- A taxonomy of corporate bullshit: The six lies they've always told.
- Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.
- This day in history: 2003, 2013, 2018, 2022
- Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading
A taxonomy of corporate bullshit (permalink)
There are six lies that corporations have told since time immemorial, and Nick Hanauer, Joan Walsh and Donald Cohen's new book Corporate Bullsht: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America* provides an essential taxonomy of this dirty six:
In his review for The American Prospect, David Dayen summarizes how these six lies "offer a civic-minded, reasonable-sounding justification for positions that in fact are motivated entirely by self-interest":
I. Pure denial
As far back as the slave trade, corporate apologists and mouthpieces have led by asserting that true things are false, and vice-versa. In 1837, John Calhoun asserted that "Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually." George Fitzhugh called enslaved Africans in America "the freest people in the world."
This tactic never went away. Children sent to work in factories are "perfectly happy." Polluted water is "purer than the water that came from the river before we used it." Poor families "don't really exist." Pesticides don't lead to "illness or death." Climate change is "beneficial." Lead "helps guard your health."
II. Markets can solve problems, governments can't
Alan Greenspan made a career out of blithely asserting that markets self-correct. It was only after the world economy imploded in 2008 that he admitted that his doctrine had a "flaw":
No matter how serious a problem is, the market will fix it. In 1973, the US Chamber of Commerce railed against safety regulations, because "safety is good business," and could be left to the market. If unsafe products persist in the market, it's because consumers choose to trade safety off "for a lower price tag" (Chamber spox Laurence Kraus). Racism can't be corrected with anti-discrimination laws. It's only when "the market" realizes that racism is bad for business that it will finally be abolished.
III. Consumers and workers are to blame
In 1946, the National Coal Association blamed rampant deaths and maimings in the country's coal-mines on "carelessness on the part of men." In 2003, the National Restaurant Association sang the same tune, condemning nutritional labels because "there are not good or bad foods. There are good and bad diets." Reagan's interior secretary Donald Hodel counseled personal responsibility to address a thinning ozone layer: "people who don’t stand out in the sun—it doesn’t affect them."
IV. Government cures are always worse than the disease
Lee Iacocca called 1970's Clean Air Act "a threat to the entire American economy and to every person in America." Every labor and consumer protection before and since has been damned as a plague on American jobs and prosperity. The incentive to work can't survive Social Security, welfare or unemployment insurance. Minimum wages kill jobs, etc etc.
V. Helping people only hurts them
Medicare will "destroy private initiative for our aged to protect themselves with insurance" (Republican Senator Milward Simpson, 1965). Covid relief is unfair to people that are currently in the workforce" (Republican Governor Brian Kemp, 2021). Welfare produces "learned helplessness."
VI. Everyone who disagrees with me is a socialist
Grover Cleveland's 2% on top incomes is "communistic warfare against rights of property" (NY Tribune, 1895). "Socialized medicine" will leave "our children and our children’s children [asking] what it once was like in America when men were free" (Reagan, 1961).
Everything is "socialism": anti-child labor laws, Social Security, minimum wages, family and medical leave. Even fascism is socialism! In 1938, the National Association of Manufacturers called labor rights "communism, bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism."
As Dayen says, it's refreshing to see how the right hasn't had an original idea in 150 years, and simply relies on repeating the same nonsense with minor updates. Right wing ideological innovation consists of finding new ways to say, "actually, your boss is right."
The left's great curse is object permanence: the ability to remember things, like the fact that it used to be possible for a worker to support a family of five on a single income, or that the economy once experienced decades of growth with a 90%+ top rate of income tax (other things the left manages to remember: the "intelligence community" are sociopathic monsters, not Trump-slaying monsters).
When the business lobby rails against long-overdue antitrust action against Amazon and Google, object permanence puts it all in perspective. The talking points about this being job-destroying socialism are the same warmed-over nonsense used to defend rail-barons and Rockefeller. "If you don't like it, shop elsewhere," has been the corporate apologist's line since slavery times.
As Dayen says, Corporate Bullshit is a "reference book for conservative debating points, in an attempt to rob them of their rhetorical power." It will be out on Halloween:
Hey look at this (permalink)
- Celebrating the Internet Freedom Movement at the EFF Awards https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2023/09/celebrating-internet-freedom-movement-eff-awards
Running the “Reflections on Trusting Trust” Compiler https://research.swtch.com/nih (h/t Nelson Minar)
A 1940s Halloween from Centuries of Sound https://centuriesofsound.com/2023/10/25/a-1940s-halloween-from-centuries-of-sound/
This day in history (permalink)
#20yrsago Whitehouse site blocks indexing of files about Iraq https://home.bway.net/keith/whrobots/index.html
#20yrsago WorldCon-running game https://web.archive.org/web/20031118200638/http://costik.com/weblog/2003_10_01_blogchive.html#106726489238821683
#10yrsago Spooks throw Obama under the bus: He knew about Merkel spying since 2010 https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/cover-story-how-nsa-spied-on-merkel-cell-phone-from-berlin-embassy-a-930205.html
#10yrsago Coach seating is getting even worse https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304384104579141941949066648
#10yrsago UK spies were terrified that the willing cooperation of telcos would get out; understood they were breaking the law https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/25/leaked-memos-gchq-mass-surveillance-secret-snowden
#5yrsago A detailed technical rebuttal of Bloomberg’s “backdoored servers” article https://www.servethehome.com/investigating-implausible-bloomberg-supermicro-stories/
#5yrsago Old dentists’ office walls are full of thousands of “buried teeth” https://www.valdostadailytimes.com/news/local_news/hundreds-of-teeth-found-in-downtown-valdosta-wall/article_2c6a0635-f973-58c2-8e18-949e63e4d9c7.html
#5yrsago Legal threats force retraction of peer-reviewed article about the problems with private-equity-backed dermatologists https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/health/private-equity-dermatology.html
#5yrsago Felons, Nazis: Michigan is occupied by an army of 3,000 armed, unregulated “police reservists” https://www.freep.com/story/news/investigations/2018/10/24/mcoles-michigan-reserve-cops/1353397002/
#1yrago Substituting economics for politics is a failure https://pluralistic.net/2022/10/27/economism/#what-would-i-do-if-i-were-a-horse
Today's top sources:
- A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING
Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS JAN 2025
The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS FEB 2024
Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM
Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION
Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM
Latest podcast: Microincentives and Enshittification https://craphound.com/news/2023/10/23/microincentives-and-enshittification/
- The Internet Con at the Internet Archive (virtual), Oct 31
Hackaday Supercon, Nov 4 (Pasadena)
CBC IDEAS, Nov 16 (Stratford, ON)
Inspiring the Next Generation, Nov 16 (Stratford, ON)
Generation of Lost Causes (Toronto, Nov 22)
Who Is Watching Big Tech? (Toronto, Nov 27)
The Lost Cause at The Strand (NYC), Nov 29
The Lost Cause at Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill), Dec 7
- A Drink with Cory Doctorow (The Idler)
Equity Mates Investing podcast
Economics and Other Science Fictions (Everyday Anarchism)
- "The Internet Con": A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech (Verso) September 2023 (http://seizethemeansofcomputation.org). Signed copies at Book Soup (https://www.booksoup.com/book/9781804291245).
"Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books http://redteamblues.com. Signed copies at Dark Delicacies (US): and Forbidden Planet (UK): https://forbiddenplanet.com/385004-red-team-blues-signed-edition-hardcover/.
"Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com
"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59?sk=f6cd10e54e20a07d4c6d0f3ac011af6b) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
"Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.
- The Lost Cause: a post-Green New Deal eco-topian novel about truth and reconciliation with white nationalist militias, Tor Books, November 2023
The Bezzle: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about prison-tech and other grifts, Tor Books, February 2024
Picks and Shovels: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about the heroic era of the PC, Tor Books, February 2025
Unauthorized Bread: a graphic novel adapted from my novella about refugees, toasters and DRM, FirstSecond, 2025
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