Category Archives: Corpocracy

Marshall McLuhan: Still prescient, 49 years later

Back when esnl was a budding journalist, no name was better known in media theory than Marshall McLuhan of the University of Toronto School of Communication Theory.

McLuhan’s theories about the role of mass media in shaping the consciousness of the 20th Century sparked endless hours of coffee house conversation.

But McLuhan has largely dropped out of sight, enduring mainly on DVD’s of Annie Hall, in one of most memorable movie cameos ever:

But McLuhan’s theories prove remarkably resilient, most notably his prescient understanding of the computer-enabled panopticon and the power of television to shape and mobilize emotions on behalf of corporate agendas.

He also grasped that the dramatic first-person journalistic reports and prime network coverage by the free-roving reporters of the Vietnam War would lead to draconian restrictions liked the “embedded reporters” who covered the two Bush Wars in the Middle East and North Africa.

Indeed, he even foreshadowed the rise of the presidential candidacy of a creature such as Donald Trump.

And that brings us to today’s video, a remarkably documentary aired on NBC 19 March 1967:


And now for the video. . .

Aired 49 years ago, yet remarkably timely, it comes from from Marshall McLuhan Speaks:

This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage

Program note:

Featuring Marshall McLuhan, and narrated by Edward Binns.

Billions in health costs from plastic bottles, cans


For several years we’ve been posting about the grave health dangers posed by the flood of chemicals we’ve poured into our world, particularly compounds capable of mimicking natural chemicals critical to our welfare and manufactured by the body’s endocrine system.

These s-called endocrine disruptors have been linked to a whole host of afflictions, ranging from cancer and obesity to ADHD and fetal abnormalities and social isolation.

And now, for the first time, comes a report detailed the huge financial costs these chemicals are imposing on our already staggered healthcare system.

From New York Universit’s Langone Medical Center:

Annual healthcare costs and lost earnings in the United States from low-level but daily exposure to hazardous chemicals commonly found in plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides, exceeds $340 billion, according to a detailed economic analysis by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The investigators who performed the calculations say the massive toll from everyday contact with endocrine-disrupting chemicals amounts to more than 2.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Included in the team’s analysis, described online [$31.50 to read] October 17 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, are estimated costs from more than 15 medical conditions linked by previous research to toxic levels of these chemicals. Scientists say chemical exposure occurs through gradual ingestion and buildup of these toxins as consumer products are used and break down.

According to researchers, endocrine-disrupting chemicals have for decades been known to pose a danger to human health because the compounds can interfere with natural hormone function. Such chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), commonly used to line tin food cans; phthalates, used in the manufacture of plastic food containers and many cosmetics; polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-like polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, found in flame retardants in furniture and packaging; and pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos and organophosphates.

However, the researchers say their new analysis, which took three years to complete, is the first U.S. assessment of the costs associated with routine endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure and resulting increases not only in rates of neurological and behavioral disorders, but also in rates of male infertility, birth defects, endometriosis, obesity, diabetes, and some cancers, as well as diminished IQ scores.

More, including a video report, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Neoliberalism in a nutshell

From Dr. Gus Bagakis, a retired philosophy instructor at San Francisco State University, writing for Truthout:

The Reagan administration mobilized and promoted a heartless formulation of capitalism: neoliberalism. This was a model based on replacing the state with the market as a way to coordinate the economy. It stood for a world in which human relationships are forced to conform to an ideal of economic competition. The individual is transformed from a citizen into an independent economic actor. Under the regimes of President Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK, neoliberalism led to massive tax cuts for the rich, the destruction of trade unions, a growing inequality of wealth, deregulation, privatization, unemployment and the decline of public services — with the exception of prisons and the military-industrial complex.

The main principles of neoliberalism are:

  • The rule of the free market around the world from restrictions imposed by government (also known as globalization).
  • The cutback of money spent for social services (also known as austerity).
  • The reduction of government regulations for everything that could hamper profits.
  • The privatization of government ventures leaving wealth in a few private hands.
  • The focus on individual responsibility over that of the public good.
  • Tax reductions for corporations and the wealthy.

Charts of the day II: Monsanto’s lobbying outlay

From Monsanto Lobbying: an attack on us, our planet and democracy, an important new report from Corporate Europe Observatory, two revealing charts, first of Big Agra/GMO giant’s lobbying and election spending in the U.S. [including, in small print, the $8.1 million spent to fight a GMO labeling referendum in California]:


And the corporation’s outlays in the European Union, including company-sponsored front groups:


As CEO reports:

Corporations like Monsanto have limitless resources to buy political power through lobbying. Not only are they represented by numerous lobbying associations at every level from local to global, they also have an army of hired-gun lobbyists, fund scientists to act as their mouthpiece, and participate in ‘greenwashing’ projects.

EU institutions and the US government often actively solicit corporations to lobby them, giving corporations privileged access to decision-making. This perverse symbiosis allows corporations to capture decision-making, but leads to hollowed out democracy, environmental disaster, and grave social injustice.

There are roughly three fields of industry lobbying: directly targeting decision-makers; PR and propaganda; and undermining science. Broadly three types of actors exist: those giving the orders, those following them, and those who are accomplices to these attempts.

It’s a red letter day for American pop culture icons

Dy;lsn wins the Big One

Three stories from BBC News, starting with the big one:

US singer Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first songwriter to win the prestigious award.

The 75-year-old rock legend received the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

The balladeer, artist and actor is the first American to win since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.

His songs include Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They are A-Changin’.

Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Dylan had been chosen because he was “a great poet in the English speaking tradition”.

And what’s a Dylan piece without a song?:

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin’ 1964

Wonder Woman lassos a United Nations honor

Yep, this time the nod goes to a comic book character and comes with corporate sponsorship.

From BBC News:

The United Nations (UN) is to name comic book character Wonder Woman as its new Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Woman and Girls.

The UN said the character will be formally sworn in at a ceremony on 21 October at its New York headquarters. DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson will accept the role for her company’s comic book, TV and film character.

The event will also launch the UN’s campaign for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

It is being sponsored by Warner Bros and DC Entertainment who are supporting the UN and Unicef’s year-long campaign.

The United nations honor comes just two weeks after the fictional character came out of her equally fictional closet.

From BBC News again:

DC Comic writer Greg Rucka says Wonder Woman “must be queer” and has had relationships with other women.

In an interview with Comicosity he defined queer as “involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender”.

In the comic books, Wonder Woman is known as Diana, a warrior princess of the Amazons.

Quote of the day: Hillary’s promised payoff

From Jon Schwarz, writing for the Intercept, on one of the secret deals promised by Hillary Clinton in her avid pursuit of corporateer big bucks:

American multinational corporations are currently stashing a staggering $2.4 trillion in profits — about 14 percent of the size of the entire U.S. economy — overseas. Multinationals are required by U.S. law to pay the statutory 35 percent tax on profits they earn anywhere on earth, but the tax is not assessed until the profits are brought back to the U.S.

This has allowed Corporate America to essentially hold U.S. tax revenue hostage, refusing to pay its taxes until Americans become so desperate that they will cut a deal giving multinationals a special new tax rate.

This strategy has already paid off once, in 2004, when multinationals got Congress to let them bring back $312 billion in profits at a one-time rate of about 5 percent. The legislation required that the cash be used to hire Americans or conduct research and development. Corporations ignored these provisions and instead used the money to enrich their executives and stockholders, while cutting U.S. jobs.

Both Hillary and Bill Clinton clearly envision cutting a similar deal during a Hillary Clinton presidency, although presumably they intend for the corporations to keep their part of the bargain this time.

Brazilian regime seeks permanent austerity

It’s the worst possible scenario for millions of the poor in South America’s largest country and a neoliberal’s wet dream, and it seems inevitable.

From teleSUR English:

Unelected Brazilian President Michel Temer is a step closer to cementing his long-term austerity plan for the cash-strapped country as the lower house of Congress approved Monday a constitutional reform that would freeze public spending for the next two decades.

Critics argue that the aggressively neoliberal plan — known as PEC 241, the Portuguese acronym for Proposed Constitutional Amendment — dramatically undermines rights enshrined in the 1988 constitution, written in the early years of Brazil’s transition to democracy following the fall of the military dictatorship in 1985.

Progressive economists often warn that austerity deepens an economic downturn rather than reverses it, by depleting consumers of buying power. Public disinvestment, is, in effect, anti-Keynesian, and is akin to turning off the engine of a plane already in free-fall.

With a population of more than 200 million, Brazil’s income and wealth disparities are among the widest in the world, and the country is currently in the midst of its worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.  The PEC 241’s 20-year freeze on public spending will almost certainly produce an anemic economy because it will starve a demand economy of the very oxygen it needs — consumer demand — to thrive.

The controversial amendment passed with ease in the lower house by a 366 to 111 vote in favor, with two abstentions, after a marathon nine-hour session. The measure still needs a second vote in the lower house, where it is expected to pass the supermajority threshold in a vote scheduled for Oct. 24; if approved, it will be forwarded to the Senate for final approval.