From ‘Sick Economy’ to Wonder
‘Normal’ questions for profit that make people sick.
“By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing?.. ..Kill yourself!” ~Bill Hicks
This is a call towards conscious capitalism. I think our ‘normal’ is unhinged. When you hear the people in the audience laugh at Bill Hicks show, where here stamps down harshly on marketing and advertising, our underbellies know, he makes an important point. What do our underbellies know, that we have to move our heads around? It’s how to heal the sickness in our economy?
There’s an awful lot of companies. Almost all striving for great results, bigger profits and preferably more and more happy customers. And more and more of these companies also have an eye for quality, environment and social conditions of workers. Sadly another ‘normal’ is also trending. I call this the rise of the Sick Economy; consciously making money with unethical actions, deemed normal enough to even educate young people in it. We need some healing here.
Why isn’t this more questionable? Why isn’t it criminal? Why can you even study it?
There’s also millions of people who get a good income for doing ethically questionable things. They studied how to do those things, as if it was normal. They all do this from a conviction, that this is how the game is played: how to get richer, with less costs, less trouble, less interference, less obligations? And with that goal in mind they get to work, cutting corners, putting pressure, manipulating people and ideas, governments even. And the result of all that work is more corruption, more lies from and distrust towards many organizations, more pollution, more addictions, more victims, more damage to the eco-system, more lies in the media and from the government, more apathy and sense of loss of meaning and control. And all those who do these ‘normal’ things; they often worry too.
Yet here we are, that’s the price we all pay for people willingly doing jobs that entail answering the following questions:
- Classic Advertising and Marketing. How do we get people to buy as much from our stuff as possible? Even when they don’t have a need (yet) for it? How do we keep side effects of the product or the waste it creates out of sight?
2. Using Science to Compel Action. What can we learn from the latest discoveries from behavioral sciences, algorithms, social sciences to neurological sciences that can help us sell more, influence customers, workers, civil servants to gain more advantages and help profits grow?
3. Media Manipulation. What websites with product information can be convinced or bought to put us on top? Can we add additional writers to respond on diverse fora, as if they were real customers or brand fans? Can we stay out of the news, or into it, all to our liking, by pressuring news outlets, with reduction and or increase in advertising?
4. Cost Reduction. The basis of many schemes. How to get rid of our garbage (nasty chemicals, dangerous materials, pensioned and redundant workers) as cheap as possible? How to transfer our whole industry to a low cost country? How to not pay taxes, or not even have, the burden of, workers (like Uber)?
5. Hollowing out. A huge aspect of cost reduction. How to get consumers pay more for less quality? Can I water it down? Can I replace ingredients for cheaper ones? Is lesser nutritional quality okay for them? Can we get more taste with less natural ingredients and more artificial flavours? What claims on the packaging can we get away with? Can I make it look cooler or classier than it really is?
6. Addictiveness. How to get consumers addicted to our food, our drinks, our games, our medicine, all to sell more than direct need? Can we add ingredients that have that effect? Can we make people feel the need for this deeper? Can we seduce new audiences, even when it’s not directly made (healthy) for them?
7. Access and Allowance. How to get (contracted) access to (more) countries and get allowance to freely poison the air, pollute the water, destroy their nature, rip off their population, underpay their population, take out the natural resources (for little to no return for the average population), etc?
8. Lobbying & Bribing. How to we get lobbies to make governments reduce taxes, fines, and even give us funding to keep on doing what we do, but not bearing any of the costs of ravages, pollution, suffering we leave behind? Perhaps, like some insurances, we can make our product obligatory?
9. False competition (scheming). How to play the market? How to win this monopoly? How to arrange aspects like price fixing with the competition, get regulations in that benefit our brand, locality of industry, extra funding, more tax exemptions, etc.?
10. Spin-doctoring. How do I help my government, organization, company to lie to the audience, hide incriminating facts and accidents? How do I reframe issues our side stays guilt free? How to keep everyone convinced that endangering our company (or the way it works) is dangerous to the economy as a whole? How to convince everyone that our industrial process is ‘normal’ and safe?
11. Shady, eh Smart Accounting. How do I hide, whitewash, transfer big sums of money, let alone pay as little tax as possible, without authorities being the wiser, or able to get at it; preferably in a legal acceptable way?
12. Worker suppression. How to we stop the creation of labour unions? How can we make the people think they’re evil or dangerous? How can we pay average workers as little as possible? How to offshore to countries where the laws are way more lenient to our treatment and (under)payment of workers?
13. Consumer suppression. How to deal with complaints, how to have a little trouble with troubled consumers as possible? How can we legally make sure that we don’t have to pay for damages, sickness or unexpected side effects, even when clients insured those very things with us?
14. Conscious disturbance. How to invoke those troubles, that our industry has the answers to? How to get even armies protect your interests, with violence if need be? How to lay the ‘bad wrap’ visibly in the hands of others? How to make the people think that our contribution to stopping those disturbances is us actually fighting the problem?
15. Bankruptcy fraud. And when all other plans go wrong: How to not lose, or even make money, when the business goes down?
And I must have overlooked a few. Let me know in the comments. :)
Profit and growth as sacred cows
Basically all these questions lead back to these few: How to reduce costs? How to increase sales? How to avoid regulations? How to control or influence outcomes and politics around our activities? How to keep a positive public appearance? All from the logic that profits must go up and the business must grow.
For each of these questions a simple google search should lead to articles about these issues, lead to examples, lead to protests about poignant cases and national or even global scandals… or lead to a study at a university that helps you find a job solving any one of the ‘problems’ above for a big company.
Each of the questions above have thousands of people working on it, in many organizations all around the world. People who are being a ‘good boy’ to their company or organization. People who may fear unemployment, loss of reputation, arrest or worse when speaking out. And probably mostly people telling themselves this is normal and okay. Makes sense… to them. It helps their employer and their own career. Because of this last question in which they all are involved:
16. Self justification and ignoring side effects. How to not see our (my) own responsibility in this? How to ignore, disclaim, disconnect from the suffering that happens because of our actions?
So what is missing from the picture?
We cannot have real solutions, when millions of people determine media narratives based on corporate interests, framing, biases (often pushed by people with interests) and conscious misrepresentation or distraction.
The casualties of the, corporate induced, opioid addiction in the USA are still rising. And rather than seek to solve the problem, the culprits still make too much good money on it, to even consider self restraint. They rather buy politicians. The same goes for our climate and whole eco-system. Thousands of scientists shout, “We live on a time bomb.” but no, many companies see no reason to stop, because the law doesn’t require them yet (enough). How could it? Laws are made by the same governments, they pressure into keeping laws and regulations as soft as possible for them.
The yearly amount of people dying from pollution is rising with disturbing numbers. The dangers to our eco-systems cross regularly new red light thresholds. Many people working in any of the job questions above are worried too. They may even help with gifts, support protests (in other area’s than their work) or voluntary work. A (too) tiny few actually question their own contribution, and go whistleblower.
And our human being is so deeply involved in this on all kinds of animalistic and primal cultural levels, that need to be addressed as well, if we want to make a change. Read Homo Ludicrous to find our more about that.
We are all part of a big machine and we all help it keep running, because we are part of it. We need miracles to shift the ‘machine’ away from disaster. To get such a wonder, start wondering.
What you can do: It all begins with Wonder.
If you work on any of the questions above, you should wonder. If you work in government, and speak more with convincing lobbies than with worrying citizens, you should wonder. If you are worried, and think you are not part of the problem, you should wonder. If you work in the media, and these questions or issues are not in the news, you should wonder.
You are not alone. Billions of others wonder too.
So. Wonder. Question. Speak out. Gather. Protest. Seek or Create Alternatives.
There’s enough you can do.
There’s places you can start today.
And you know it.
If you’re still wondering why to start, or how to act, then this blog, the Gentle Revolution, has enough on why, how, what to start further reading.
NOTE: I started writing this post when I found this page on the internet. A collection of tricks game companies use, even collect to get you hooked and addicted. Consciously.