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"I Don't Talk To Republicans!" and a little about PR, media, propaganda and the digital Skinner Box

Politics / US Politics Jun 28, 2010 - 05:33 AM GMT

By: Michael_T_Bucci


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleA long time resident here confided, "I don't talk to Republicans!" In this all-white Northern New England town, this excludes many people and the obvious question becomes 'why not'? "I once owned an advertising business in Manhattan," she explained slowly, "they call it a boutique if your gross is under $100M, and I exchanged this business, my co-op, my Smith Barney account, Lexus and American Express card for a cat, a collection of hand-me-down furniture and a free trip to the supermarket once a week, if my monthly food stamp allowance isn't drained." What happened? I asked.

Seventeen years ago, pseudonym Linda Morris was on a 'shoot' in New England for a client. On the second day, after waking in the hotel room, she felt she couldn't move half her body; she was paralyzed. "I sent the crew out without me," she lamented. A city neurologist later blamed her episode on a post-viral infection. Two years later, MRI scans proved she had multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease that forced her to gradually fire all fifteen employees, be shunned by other members in her professional associations, and eventually lost two-thirds of her long-standing accounts. Two years following her first exacerbation in the hotel room she filed Chapter 7 and applied for SSDI (Social Security Disability Income). "My SS disability income for one month was less than what I made in half a day in the ad business," she joked. "All my life I associated anyone who took Government money with welfare mothers who cheat to take my tax money. My good Christian mother thought it a sin to take anything that's not yours, especially from the government."

Her friends too were fond of faulting Big Government and blaming "welfare queens" for robbing their tax monies, despite how most had now shaved 90% off their taxes through deductibles accrued through decades of pro-business incentives and tax relief legislature that commenced with Ronald Reagan. But in less than three years, Linda had descended from the much vaunted top 2% income level to below the poverty line. "My friends still believe it can't happen to them. No one is shielded by their present portfolio and assets. They are not shielded by their religion, intelligence or talent either. Given the perfect set of bad circumstances, it can happen to anyone!"

"I eventually left the city because I had no other choice," she believes. "When someone can't run the race they are disqualified to enter the game. My game was a high-profile, burn-out one. I burned-out! So, they burned me out!"

Prior to leaving Manhattan, and based on a periodical interim review by Social Security to renew her disability claim, while still exhausting her liquid assets to compliment a $909 SSDI check, Linda was terminated by Social Security on grounds she was "no longer disabled", a controversial judgment in light of the medical fact that MS is a chronic, progressive, incurable disease. The next year, with no tangible means of support, a loss of SSDI income and becoming increasingly limited by a progressing MS, she lost her husband to cancer. The next year she lost her cooperative to the bank and their shared possessions to the auctioneer. The next year, Linda became officially homeless. This took place in another State, far away from her Manhattan traumas but one that offered new ones.

Eventually, Linda reapplied and won back her SSDI award and the previous SS verdict was overturned. It happened during the bust and after commercial bankers won entry into the investment markets through the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which intended to prevent another market crash caused by maniacal market speculation. 

Now in a subsidized apartment in a State that has an MS rate 40% above the national average and a scarcity of neurologists, depending entirely on her monthly government SSDI check to support food and rent, Linda qualified for Section 8 housing subsidies and Food Stamps, along with full Medicaid. Her contacts with old friends vanished. She was no longer in the game; no longer wished to discuss the strategies lurking in Apple's new ad platform; no longer wished to hear members of the old tribe boast of winning major accounts, or about her best friend's daughter's million dollar Christmas bonus from Bear Sterns, or another brag of his son's acceptance to a 45K a year college, or hear "have to run now Linda...I need to be on TV in an hour". Today, after total loss of all material and financial assets, her husband and entire family already dead, she is a ward of the State. "And the State is about to throw me overboard," she fears, "because of this present climate of fear, taxes, deficits, and debt. This ship (America) is clearly sinking, and it's literally 'man the lifeboats'."

Where is your lifeboat? I asked.

She recounted: "I bodily survived these last years with MS and poverty while in stowage on the RMS Titanic before the iceberg: the poor were poor but fed and sheltered. The disabled were given what care was available. Food Stamps put half a meal in our stomachs. Social Security wouldn't pay $1200 a month for my MS meds so I went without. Canard had saved money by providing the passengers few lifeboats. But its ego proclaimed the ship was invincible. The iceberg hit, the dancers in the ballroom were told to keep dancing and ignore the swinging chandeliers. Then the crew of the Titanic announced the end. They prepared the limited number of lifeboats and, as was the measure of civilization in 1912, shouted, 'women and children go first!'."

And today? What is the measure of civilization in 2010?

"Today in 2010, and for the foreseeable future, the dynasty of financial and business managers engineering our sinking ship from Wall Street and other financial alliances command the news media and political parties to shout: 'Defeat the debt, shrink the deficit, bolster the bond markets, protect the country's credit rating, shrink government spending, lower taxes!

"From now forward, say they, 'The rich and powerful go first into the lifeboats. The women and children thrown overboard!'"

What people don't foresee is how politics can directly affect life and death, I answered in sympathy. "Yes, today, extremists control one party and the other party placates and rubber-stamps them for fear of being demonized by TV demagogues and hate-mongers." Her view of the present Right-wing agenda predicts a future plight that many Americans must face. "These are people who surreptitiously work for the very wealthy whose sole interest is the eradication of government and society as we know it." Linda believes that a Republican controlled Congress will seek the complete privatization of Government assets and functions, and the virtual elimination of public spending on social needs and programs.

"The Republican agenda is an agenda of financial gain. It is not only public education or libraries or government funding of 'anything' that Tea and Tax parties and Republicans seek to eradicate. They wish to eradicate all institutions, agencies, social programs and publicly-owned property that do not make a profit. Profit is good and is their sole objective. Public and common ownership is not profitable and therefore bad, if not unAmerican. All human activity is to be subject to the profit and loss statement. The investor class will be the political class of tomorrow, undisguised."

Why don't you speak to Republicans?

"The elderly Tea Party, anti-Government, anti-tax Republicans where I live subsist by collecting HUD housing subsidies (Section 8, Rural Development), Medicaid payments for their health needs, some collect food stamps, and several have spouses in local nursing homes paid entirely by Medicare costing over $100K a year," she explained. "All the while they vote the Republican small-government and anti-Government agendas. None here pays taxes. One man who receives HUD housing subsidies refused to fill out the national census last March stating his opposition to Government. Another doesn't think 'everyone needs to get an education' (she favors closing down public education), and yet another - and this explains much - wished she had been raised Catholic because 'Catholics are told exactly what to think and do'."

What does this indicate? I asked.

"Well, it shows a blatant hypocrisy at best. But it substantiates the persuasiveness of the profession where I once worked, for most of the examples I've mentioned are programmed responses from inculcated media messages. In other words, the anti-Government viewpoint would not rank high in polling had it not been strongly and cogently disseminated throughout all forms of media repeatedly over a long period and in different venues hosting different actors. President Obama won on the basis of a "believing is seeing" platform. In his campaign he left it to your imagine to interpret what 'Change You Can Believe In' meant. Prime Minister David Cameron was pressed to defend BP publicly on the basis of pressure from the British news media that simultaneously orchestrated headlines of "outrage" for British people to adopt. Cameron could then say he reflected the will of the people. In advertising, public relations and news organizations, a plethora of psychological techniques is selected to reach the intended 'impression'. I had always called this 'fun' for selling toothpaste but dangerous in the hands of social manipulators. If you widen the reach of media to where information and programming is ubiquitous, it becomes an invisible seamless web of transmitted 'impressions' extending from TV to Radio to Internet to iPods to DVDs to Video Games to Cell Phones to GPSs to iPhones, etc. The vehicles only multiply. In 1955, there was a radio, a TV, a newspaper and a telephone.

"This is the digital world that has replaced the analog one of paper, print, books, billboards, writing letters and face-to-face communication. It is capable of providing precision measurements of responses from motivational messages with infinite tracking. Within the digital world, no privacy exists. Today, people know it as mass surveillance of keystrokes and emails, tomorrow they will know it as surveillance of web cam footage, touch screen sensors, profiling of private data uploaded into the cloud. But they ignore the matter and push it forward. The digital rat in the Skinner Box is under constant programming but believes there is no other world beyond the Box, in fact learns to accept the Box as her universe. It is not long for a rat to forget he is imprisoned in a totalitarian Box under constant surveillance and being fed stimulus-response impulses; he begins to view this as normal. Other rats are introduced and become like-minded. Together, they form a group. Larger groups of like-minded rats form a society. As a society, because each rat in every group receives equal conditioning, they reach consensus. Majority consensus is viewed as Democracy. Democracy is viewed as an expression of the will of the people. Meanwhile, other Boxes develop societies that receive different programming: for example, groups who watch CNN news from groups who watch FOXNews. At critical points, the conditioning is tested and this is publicly called "polling". When you hear that "a recent poll has shown...", you are reading the results of how well or poor was the conditioning. If poor, conditioning is refined and tested again by this feedback loop. A 'readers' poll' cannot reflect other than what a reader reads. A 'news poll' cannot reflect other than what news was reported. Market analysts only know what markets report. These basics are at the heart of propaganda, disinformation, civilian and military intelligence. The reader and viewer are inside the Box of media conductors who select the news items, the story, the headline, the emphasis, the order, the tone, the importance, the suggested emotional response and so on. Those inside the Box don't know news that isn't reported. They can only respond to what was selected for them to know. Polling measures the efficacy of the programming and the conditioning."

Thank you. I think your heart is still in advertising. Returning to my first question, why don't you talk to Republicans?

"My response is an extremely personal one. If a person threatens your life, would you speak to them again? This is the first election year that will directly bear upon my living or dying. And it is entirely up to the American people to decide that question. I do not kill. I do not show anger. But I will not invite into my life someone who will vote me into homelessness again! There will be many Americans who will travel the road I already took, some falling from the plateau I once occupied. There will be many elderly who will die from lack of medical care and medications. There will be many angry enough to shoot others. I do not advocate violence or war, but neither is there the commandment that I must speak to those who are beyond discussion, who, through their endorsements and voting, will cause me greater suffering and, more tragically, cause a widespread social pain in this country that is now foreseen by many. It is unnecessary barbarism. However, I accept the decision of my country, which also will be a measure for the world to view and judge."

"Who did you for vote in 2008?

"Knowing my personal needs for entitlements, knowing I can never earn my keep again with physical and mental disabilities that only progress (paralysis, cognitive dysfunction), knowing I have no family to rescue me, knowing the Republican agenda is to further dismantle the social safety nets that house and feed me, but also knowing the Democrats are no defense against powerful lobbyists, financial and corporate interests, and certainly no match for Republican tactics, knowing that both parties are two sides of the same coin...I voted for myself."

Did you win? I asked facetiously.

"If I'm not for me who is?"

By Michael T Bucci

Michael T Bucci is a retired public relations executive from New Jersey presently residing in New England. His essays have appeared at Market Oracle and Global Research. He is the author of nine books on practical spirituality including White Book: Cerithous .

    © 2010 Copyright Michael T Bucci - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

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