Tag Archives: manipulation

Aaron Sorkin Saves Failing Institutions, Part Deux

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Waaay back in the 1990s, there was a little show called ‘West Wing’ that made the world want to wrap itself in a great, big collective American flag.

The writers were very effective at making people believe that some good in the world while Georgie Jr. pissed all over the democratic institutions of the US, the UN and chopped at the rest of the tender threads that held us all together.

‘West Wing’ made us think that something good was happening while wars were being declared left, right and centre and while the US went into the most rapid and ridiculous decline; faster than any other country or organization in the history of humankind.

We were duped into believing that there was something worth believing in.

Aaron Sorkin and the rest of the crew of writers that put together ‘The West Wing’ fooled us into believing that democracy in America was alive and well.

Or was it a well-crafted effort to try to fight back against the criminality of the Bush administration?  You decide.

Need reminders?

After Bush stole the US election in 2000, the planned and now obvious plot concerning 9/11 designed to rope Americans into a tight pen of security and scrutiny; and after the sad failure of Bush vs Gore in 2004, we see the wreckage today surrounding us with words like ‘credit debt swaps’, ‘lower income taxes’, ‘tea party’, ‘austerity’, ‘bank bailouts’, ‘99% vs 1%’, ‘budget cuts’, ‘libertarian’, ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ … and so on.

Today, Aaron Sorkin and crew take us on another fantasy ride to show that the magical world of media is real, it hasn’t changed and it’s no longer honest.

But don’t let that get in the way of spinning a good tale …

Well, all of this is a load of crap designed to lull us once again into complacency.

Today’s media is owned by a small cabal of investors planning on controlling humanity for their own profit.  Today’s media is rife with corruption.  Today’s media knows nothing about truth because the dollar has bought everyone out.  Today’s media is bankrupt.

Thankfully, we still have the ability to call bullshit on these people, but that plug is about to be pulled as well when laws like ACTA, TPP, Bill C-11 and a myriad other ropes cinch a noose around our collective necks and we all find ourselves in public funded private prisons.

It’ll be interesting to see how we’re shaped into feeling good about the institutions crashing down around us.

What’s next?  A show about marriages that pretends divorce doesn’t exist?

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Understanding the Current Canadian Political Situation

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The Canadian political landscape has a number of “elements” in play right now, all designed to confuse the hell out of the average Canadian voter.

I want to try to use this piece to dissect a couple of contentious activities.  That’s your cue to grab a cup of coffee and snuggle in for a few minutes because this does not merit a quick glance.

Robo-calls, Voter Suppression, Voter Lists & Marketing

Many in the media are asking really stupid questions right now about the depth and breadth of capabilities with respect to tracking individuals, their voter preferences and so on.  Others are asking equally naive questions about the range of marketing activities that are NOT organized in Canada.

Obviously, none of them have ever worked in the loyalty marketing business.  Or direct marketing business.  Or telemarketing businesses.  Or the advertising agency world.  Or online advertising.  Or politics.

They all seem to have this ‘Gee whiz’ kind of mindset that reinforces that they are clearly locked in the ‘Madmen’ era of when advertisers and communications experts didn’t have a clue about what they were doing, but still took all the credit when they sold a car or two because of a sexy car ad or funny catch phrase with toilet paper.

Guess what.  Things have changed.  A long ago, actually.

I don’t know if it’s intentional on behalf of the media pundits and journalists to seem stupid or if they just are stupid, but they are definitely missing the point that any organization can collect pretty much anything they want on me, my buying habits, my nose-picking habits, how many times I have a bowel movement and so on.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the few exceptions to unsolicited calls – political parties – probably have the most complex databases concerning the activities of every single Canadian.

Further to this basic idea that enormous masses of data are being collected about every single one of our habits is the seeming surprise about the extent to which this is organized by American and generally non-Canadian companies.

The Airmiles program is owned by an American company.  Nearly every large agency in Canada is just a tiny cog in the enormous machinery of the top-5 global agencies and very few real decisions are actually made in Canada.

Hell, even StatsCan data now lies with Lockheed-Martin, a very not-Canadian company and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of military equipment.

That said, there continues to be a sense of surprise when we hear about American parent companies being involved with marketing decisions.  Sadly, many Canadians don’t realize that this is just routine.

The Solution?

The solution to the issue with robo-calls and resulting voter suppression is simple:  allow Canadians to add their names to the same Do Not Call Lists that the CRTC maintains when you get annoying calls about credit card offers, instant vacation awards, police balls and other crap.

More importantly, we need more control over our personal and private information.  If a political party wants to contact me, they need my permission first.  Email works that way.  Why can’t phone calls?

On the note about the agency world and most decisions being made outside Canada, that topic is beyond the scope of what is already a very long rant about our Canadian corporate and political environment.

Demographics, Dummygraphics and Datagraphics

I think we’ve all heard the term ‘demographics’ before.  It basically applies to groups of people, their behaviours and the impact of those behaviours.  ‘Baby Boomers’, ‘Generation X’ and ‘Digital Natives’ are all terms that relate to demographics.

Of course, marketers have stepped things up substantially and have designed and developed hundreds of categories related to individuals and their buying, political interests, love activities, drinking habits and so on and continue to collect this information so long as you use a credit card, bank card, cell phone, Gmail account, search and pretty much do anything else.

Dummygraphics is a new term that I will use here to describe a group of people that believe what the media and politicians tell them.  My first instincts with this word is that Boomers fit nicely into this category, but they don’t.  Dummygraphics apply to people that simply don’t get the idea that someone out there is lying to them so that they can gain at your expense.

People that receive phone calls on their land lines telling them repeatedly that they’re Liberals and that they want to piss you off even if you’re a card-carrying Liberal because we’re going to keep calling are locked into two issues:  they don’t know how to ignore the phone and they can’t get their name removed from voter calling lists.

Political cynics (and I won’t say Conservatives because I don’t want to fall victim to a $5 million lawsuit) leverage this stupidity to their advantage and win elections.  It sounds harsh, but it’s that simple.

If you believe that it’s all just one great big coincidence, you fit neatly into the Dummygraphic category.

Datagraphics is almost the opposite of Dummygraphics.  I don’t want to pretend that this group of people is smarter than the first, but there are hints that they too are cynics and will at least seek out alternatives when someone tells them a lie about simple things like polling stations.  They’ll double check their voter registration card.  They’ll call Elections Canada.  They’ll check with their local MP.

People in the Datagraphic category will find themselves reading alternatives to the mainstream media.  Not everything the Globe and Mail or Toronto Star says is paved with good intentions.  That’s (nearly) impossible when the party in power also pulls the strings with advertising budgets for Defense recruiting, Action Plans, CRA awareness and so on to the tune of $300-$500 million per year.

If you don’t believe, take a gander at the May 2011 election list of newspaper endorsements where nearly ALL of the mainstream media voices endorsed the very people that the majority of Canadians are working very hard to eliminate.  Not much of a challenge given that the mainstream media in Canada is really just 4-5 mega-conglomerates, including Bell, Rogers, Quebecor, Shaw, Telus, Transcontinental and Astral Communications.

The Solution?

Obviously, I have a bias to the Datagraphic category, but want to ensure that they get the right information.  We need to defeat Canada’s media conglomerates by shutting off our cell phones, signing up with Internet companies like TekSavvy and starving them of our attention.

Only when we boycott the major perpetrators of these crimes – our media conglomerates – will we see a little more balance in Canadian politics.

The other more actionable solution is to CHECK INFORMATION WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR VOTING STATION.  Don’t take everything for granted and don’t believe some jack-ass who calls you in the middle of the night to tell you have to go to another county to vote.

The Merging of Business and Politics

The current array of scandals we’re enduring in Canada are, in my opinion, what happens when you merge business and politics.  More importantly, it’s a glimpse of what will happen as public policy becomes more commercial as opposed to public.

Robo-calls, tele-marketing, consumer lists, phone lists and so on all have nothing to do with public policy.  They have everything to do with coercion and the dying days of broadcasting.

You see, broadcast is nearly extinct.  It’s breathing its last breath.  TV, print and radio were once the “three legs that help up the table of marketing success”, but they no longer reach the audiences that they used to.  There’s too much fragmentation in the marketplace.  Therefore, we see a last desperate scramble to to control these last few modes of communication before they become completely pointless in the realm of politics.  And everything else, for that matter.

We’re already seeing the cracks in the strategy.  Anyone that does robo-calls has to do them to land lines.  Cell phone lines are too risky because histories are traced more effectively, messages can be recorded and easily shared and we return to the demographic discussion.  Most elderly people have land lines and most elderly people are prone to trust or believe someone when they get called by someone out of the blue telling them that they have to go to another polling station to vote.

My prediction is that the 2011 election will be the last effective use of this shameful and disgusting tactic because a growing percentage of the population – even those in the Dummygraphic category – will be using Internet connections for their land-lines and cell phone more frequently as their primary mode of communication.

Anyways, the key point here is that we – Earthlings, to be exact, but I’ll be happy if we start as Canadians – have been remiss in demanding a very simple idea:  the separation of State and Corporation.  In the Revolution Years, we demanded separation of Church and State and now we have to go the next step or we will LOSE ALL FREEDOMS in the interest of letting others making money of our personal information.

Especially political cynics and crooks.

The Solution?

Let’s be clear that I’m not anti-corporate or even anti-capitalist.

I just don’t think the merging of business and public policies are good ideas.  It’s impossible to build railroads, national digital strategies and other long-term investments when stockholders demand gains in the next quarter.

I’m not sure how it will be done, but we have to at least start sharing ideas about how to keep corporations out of our lives.

Bill C-30 and Anonymous

Rumour has it that ‘Anonymous’ is nothing but a tool of the CIA.  I doubt it’s true, but if it is, we see how Anonymous continues to fuck things up for your average Joe by dragging personal information about Vic Toews or anyone else out into the public domain.

It’s just not right.

Their actions, therefore, help reinforce the rumours and actually help to steel the resolve of ‘tough on crime’ morons by giving them all the excuses they need to remove the wonderful and powerful thing known as anonymity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the pressure continues to mount, media morons chime in with the idea that we should have better capabilities when it comes to tracking and ultimately, robo-calling may even fall into this category as justification for better scrutiny to protect Canadians from those who would steer us wrong.

Imagine that:  Anonymous responsible for Bill C-30 so that we can get to the bottom of what’s happening with robo-calls and voter suppression.

How bizarre.

All of a sudden, the robo-call situation becomes Canada’s very own version of a digital equivalent to the Reichstag Fire.

Another issue in all of this?  I believe the whole thing is a sham because if the government or law enforcers want to collect information about me, they can and without a warrant.  Child pornographers are arrested every day as a result of following the law.

What’s critical in all of this is that we are starting to see that none of our politicians with any party want Canadians to know just how much THEY know about US.  If you knew, you’d be pissed and outraged and this very idea threatens politics in Canada substantially more than phone-call hijinks.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if investigations actually found that one or many of our politicians were in breach of Canadian privacy laws.

A Final Plea

If you’re one of the many people that worked on political campaigns through the spring of 2011 and you witnessed or were privy to some questionable tactics, please contact Elections Canada.

Our democracy desperately needs a handful of people who will make things right.

You’ve probably had non-disclosure agreements and threats of lawsuits thrown at you if you open your mouth about anything that you witnessed, but WE NEED YOU.  We need your courage.  We need your strength.  We need your knowledge.

When you come forward, Canadians will protect you because you’ll be doing the right thing.

And if you don’t?  Be prepared for a big-ass warrant to come your way and get your sphincter lubed up for some fun times in the joint because you will not be treated kindly by anyone that knocks on your door looking for information.

And the Conservatives will NOT have your back.

Media Messaging – Using the ‘Right’ Terms

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While this is not the first time I’ve heard about ‘structuring language the ‘right’ way,it is a nice summary of the ways in which members of different conservative camps manipulate language.

Think about the use of these terms the next time you see something on Fox, Sun or the CTV.

Replacement words for conservatives:

Capitalism Free Market Economy

Tax Reform Tax Simplification

Drilling for oil Exploring for energy

School choice (ie. privatization of education) Equal opportunity in education

So … what would be an appropriate language for progressives or lefties?  Don’t forget that people like the NDP have even tried euphemisms like ‘social democrats’ to replace ‘socialists’, with partial success and don’t forget that the word ‘socialism’ strikes fear into most people that are even moderately conservative as they pull up images of Bob Rae plunging the Ontario into massive and unprecedented deficits.

Or do we even dare use language that is only used with the intent to mislead or manipulate or do we try to encourage people to use honest and frank language that spells out our issues and concerns with ‘government’ (or should I say ‘the people’s chosen ones’) today?

Why Greece?

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I want an answer to this questions:  why is Greece bearing the brunt of financial attacks in the past few months?

Why are the people of Greece having ‘austerity’ measures shoved down their throats more than any other country in the world?

We hear endlessly from the mainstream media about how Greece is in financial crisis because it’s not answering to the calls for tighter austerity measures or how the economy is going to collapse as a result of their debt burdens.

But I really want to know:  why Greece?

But Why Greece?

Greece is nowhere near the top when it comes to some of the typical economic comparisons:

Debt: CNBC ran a series looking at the total debt of the 20 largest debtor nations, at least when comparing external debt to GDP.  Greece was number 15 out of 20, owing $182 (182%) for every dollar in GDP.  This was more than the US (120%) and Australia (139%), but substantially better than countries like Germany (185%), France (250%), Belgium (336%) and, of course, Ireland (a whopping 1,382%).

To save you the boredom of going through each slide, the list of countries with respective debt per capita is as follows:

External Debt (as % of GDP) Gross External Debt (Billions) 2009 GDP (Est, Billions)
1 Ireland 1382.0% $ 2,380 $ 172
2 England 413.3% $ 8,981 $ 2,173
3 Switzerland 401.9% $ 1,304 $ 325
4 Netherlands 376.3% $ 2,550 $ 677
5 Belgium 335.9% $ 1,324 $ 394
6 Denmark 310.4% $ 626 $ 202
7 Sweden 282.2% $ 1,001 $ 355
8 Finland 271.5% $ 505 $ 186
9 Austria 261.0% $ 867 $ 332
10 Norway 251.0% $ 641 $ 255
11 Hong Kong 250.0% $ 816 $ 326
12 France 250.0% $ 5,370 $ 2,150
13 Portugal 223.6% $ 552 $ 247
14 Germany 185.1% $ 5,440 $ 2,940
15 Greece 182.2% $ 580 $ 318
16 Spain 179.4% $ 2,460 $ 1,370
17 Italy 146.6% $ 2,602 $ 1,770
18 Australia 138.9% $ 1,230 $ 882
19 Hungary 120.1% $ 225 $ 188
20 US 101.1% $ 14,825 $ 14,660
AVERAGE 303% $ 2,714 $ 1,496
SUM $ 54,278 $ 29,922

Debt per Capita: when looking at total debt per capita (using the same numbers in the CNBC report), Greece ranked as the 6th best country when it came to the total amount owing per person in this country:

Debt Per Capita Rank Index to Average
Hungary $ 22,739 1 20%
Italy $ 44,760 2 39%
US $ 48,258 3 42%
Germany $ 51,572 4 44%
Portugal $ 51,572 5 44%
Greece $ 53,984 6 47%
Australia $ 57,641 7 50%
Spain $ 60,614 8 52%
France $ 83,781 9 72%
Finland $ 96,197 10 83%
Austria $ 105,616 11 91%
Sweden $ 110,479 12 95%
Denmark $ 113,826 13 98%
Hong Kong $ 115,612 14 100%
Belgium $ 127,197 15 110%
Norway $ 137,476 16 119%
England $ 146,953 17 127%
Netherlands $ 152,380 18 131%
Switzerland $ 171,528 19 148%
Ireland $ 566,756 20 489%
AVERAGE $ 115,947 100%

Again, Ireland looks just disgusting with $566, 756 per capita owing (probably less if Bono would pay his taxes) and Greeks owe about $0.30 per every dollar that the British owe to global lenders.

There are a number of other ways to twist these basic numbers, but they keep telling me the same story:  Greece should not be facing the problems it’s facing and I smell a witch hunt.

Despite these very clear facts, many economists and other soap-boxers pretend to refer to a non-existent myth that there’s a difference in ‘ability to repay’, like the Swiss and Germans shit gold ducats while the Greece are completely incapable of taking care of the fiscal responsibilities.

This is, of course, a myth, and if I were Greek, I’d be pretty damn insulted with the regular insinuations that the British or Australians or others around the world are more capable of taking care of their own books than the creators of democracy.

So Why Greece?

We’ve seen that the facts tell a different story:  Greece is in substantially better economic condition than most EU countries, at least when you look at GDP per capita and total external debt to GDP.

It seems the ‘Greece bashing’ needs an explanation.

I have one:  Greeks elected socialists and the world bankers don’t like that.

Here’s a reprint of the table from above with political ‘leaning’ of each government.  Notice how Greece is one of the few that lean towards believing socialism is a viable political alternative to market politics.

Debt Per Capita Rank Index to Average Current Government
Hungary $ 22,739 1 20% Market / Capitalist
Italy $ 44,760 2 39% Market / Capitalist
US $ 48,258 3 42% Market / Capitalist
Germany $ 51,572 4 44% Market / Capitalist
Portugal $ 51,572 5 44% Socialist / Soc Dem
Greece $ 53,984 6 47% Socialist / Soc Dem
Australia $ 57,641 7 50% Market / Capitalist
Spain $ 60,614 8 52% Socialist / Soc Dem
France $ 83,781 9 72% Market / Capitalist
Finland $ 96,197 10 83% Market / Capitalist
Austria $ 105,616 11 91% Socialist / Soc Dem
Sweden $ 110,479 12 95% Market / Capitalist
Denmark $ 113,826 13 98% Socialist / Soc Dem
Hong Kong $ 115,612 14 100% Market / Capitalist
Belgium $ 127,197 15 110% Market / Capitalist
Norway $ 137,476 16 119% Socialist / Soc Dem
England $ 146,953 17 127% Market / Capitalist
Netherlands $ 152,380 18 131% Market / Capitalist
Switzerland $ 171,528 19 148% Market / Capitalist
Ireland $ 566,756 20 489% Market / Capitalist
AVERAGE $ 115,947 100%

NOTE:  I admit that I took a bit of a leap with some characterizations of each country, but finding this information was actually quite a challenge.  If corrections are needed, please post them in the comments and I’ll adjust the table.

Greece, Portugal and Spain all stand out as current social democratic or socialist countries.

In other words, there’s a very good possibility that because of the political bias of each of these countries, the banks have been shut out of the halls of parliament in Greece.  Admittedly, Norway and Denmark (and other countries that swing back and forth with conservative and SocDem governments) throw a kink into my description, but their external debt is admittedly much lower than other countries.

Anyways, the overt attack on Greece and the people of Greece is exactly how the bankers get their revenge.

What’s that?  They’re taking a write-down on their existing debt to the Greek government?  Well, if Greeks have their say, there won’t be anything to pay back.  They’ll declare bankruptcy and forfeit on EVERYTHING they owe, leaving the money junkies with nothing but a bunch of empty sacks.

As a result of this situation, the money junkies of Europe and elsewhere have risked the life of one of their debt addicts and they need to revive it before the addict dies.

Or … before something worse happens …

Enter the ‘Iceland Solution’

In 2008, Iceland faced a similar ruinous economic future. They were being threatened by external forces that were going to rip their economy apart, piece by piece.  The IMF forced the existing government to impose a whopping minimum 18% interest on any debts outstanding.

Early in 2009, the people of Iceland said no.  They handled things a different way.

A new left-wing government was formed early February, 2009 in response to the crisis and citizens demanding better.

The new government devalued the Icelandic Krona even further than it already had been, crushing the value of any outstanding debt.  By April 2009, the government had launched an investigation into some of the banks and other institutions that tried to ruin the economyOther business leaders have come under investigation for manipulating the economic situation to their benefit.

Greece – and any other country on the planet – can follow the same path.  Despite what the Euro-Zone junkies are trying to scare us with.  In fact, CNBC has already stated that Greece is the most powerful country in the world right now because the lenders are desperate to remedy the situation and avoid economic revolution.

A referendum is exactly what the Greeks should be entitled to instead of more austerity measures.  If they don’t get it, it will turn the country into chaos.  German and French hypocrites will have to step aside.

This is a path to our future that the bank-owned countries are desperately trying to avoid, as it would set and reinforce a dangerous alternative to dropping your pants and continuing on with issuing debt and driving your country to economic ruin over and over again.

It would force the Greeks to take ownership of their problems and possibly never borrow again.

And this has bankers terrified.

External Debt (as % of GDP) Gross External Debt (Billions) 2009 GDP (Est, Billions)
1 Ireland 1382.0% $ 2,380 $ 172
3 Switzerland 401.9% $ 1,304 $ 325
4 Netherlands 376.3% $ 2,550 $ 677
2 England 413.3% $ 8,981 $ 2,173
10 Norway 251.0% $ 641 $ 255
5 Belgium 335.9% $ 1,324 $ 394
11 Hong Kong 250.0% $ 816 $ 326
6 Denmark 310.4% $ 626 $ 202
7 Sweden 282.2% $ 1,001 $ 355
9 Austria 261.0% $ 867 $ 332
8 Finland 271.5% $ 505 $ 186
12 France 250.0% $ 5,370 $ 2,150
16 Spain 179.4% $ 2,460 $ 1,370
18 Australia 138.9% $ 1,230 $ 882
15 Greece 182.2% $ 580 $ 318
13 Portugal 223.6% $ 552 $ 247
14 Germany 185.1% $ 5,440 $ 2,940
20 US 101.1% $ 14,825 $ 14,660
17 Italy 146.6% $ 2,602 $ 1,770
19 Hungary 120.1% $ 225 $ 188
AVERAGE 303% $ 2,714 $ 1,496
SUM $ 54,278 $ 29,922