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review 2016-01-31 09:14
The Rise of the Corporatocracy
No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs - Naomi Klein

As I mentioned under The Shock Doctrine, this book is about the internal problems with the American Empire as opposed to the external concerns to the rest of the world. In a sense it is the idea that our culture is being destroyed by a culture of consumerism and that idea of profits before people is the main motivator of the modern corporatocracy. We do need to put this book in context though, being written at the end of the 90s, just after the anti-globalisation protests in Seattle, an event referred to by many as the Battle of Seattle. I guess the events really brought to the forefront how the American Government was willing to go to war with its own people to protect the interests of the corporatocracy. However, remember that between 1989 and 2001 there was no real external threat to the United States, and as such there was no way of distracting the population to an external threat, so another means of distracting them was required. The concept of the brand is not new, however it is during this period that we begin to see a rise against the corporatocracy which resulted in a rejection of the militaristic foreign policy of the early 21st Century.


I am going to be honest though, there is nothing different now than there was during the rest of US history, though I will point to the writings of Howard Zinn to direct you to the discrimination and oppression that has been a mainstay of American, and in fact world, history. Things have changed though, and one of the major things was the rise of the middle class. The appearance of the middle class did bring about massive changes in modern society, and one had resulted in the French Revolution. However, industrialisation also brought about the rise of the working class. With the appearance of the working class, the middle class was allowed to develop whereas the working class were then oppressed. However, with the rise of communism, and the fear of a world wide revolution, the working class was appealed to, and universal healthcare (at least in the British Empire) as well as minimum wages and benefits, were introduced. The problem with this was that hiring labour became much more expensive.


Now I seem to have diverged a bit, though in many cases I tend to like to try to put a few things in context. Now, I do very much agree with Klein's assessment here, however I do feel that there are a few misleading ideas, such as the idea of cheap labour in poorer countries. Now, don't get me wrong, I am opposed to the mistreatment of any human being, and am opposed to unsafe and discriminatory work practices. This was something that was thrown out of the western world over 100 years ago, however it has simply moved to the developing world. Low wages are not necessarily the problem though, since if you do travel to these places you will discover that the low prices of goods there more than makes up for the low wages. For instance, it costs around $100 a night to stay in a hotel in Melbourne, while it costs $30 a night in Hong Kong, and in Bangkok I found a hotel for $14 (though my friend's comment was that it was probably a pretty shitty hotel). However, low wages are still a problem, but what makes things worse is cost cutting as a means to increase profits. If, for instance, the manufacturer cuts costs so that the worker is working long hours, has no breaks, is not allowed to go to the toilet, and the workplace is so unsafe that accidents regularly happen, then that is not good. However, the price of the shoes, or the shirt, in Australia does not change, despite the factory in Australia closing down and the one in Asia opening up. This is not a means to make the goods cheaper, but a means to increase the profits of the corporation, and in turn the shareholders. No only are the workers being exploited, but so are the consumers in Australia.


One thing she talks about is the concept of space. Basically space is being taken over by the corporatocracy. Once one would go shopping on the main street and spend some time in the town park. That is no longer the case: main street has closed down and much of the activity has moved to the shopping centre. There is a big difference between the town centre and the shopping centre and that is that the town centre is a public space while the shopping centre is not. What that means is that the owner of the shopping centre has complete control over what goes on there, thus creating an ordered and sheltered place where people can go and spend money and not be disturbed. However I have noted that at times The Body Shop have plastered their shop with anti-corporate logos, even in the middle of a Westfield Shopping Centre.


The further idea of no space is that all of our space is being taken up with advertising, and that the main thought forms of today is the brand logo. However branding once again in not new. Christianity has been using the brand logo for centuries, and in many was it has brought about the development of the brand as a means of advertising. The brand has also been used in the past to mark possession, such as slaves or cattle. However, you could say that the modern brand also marks possession. We see the swoosh on a shirt or my shoes and we know that they are Nikes. Nothing more needs to be said, but then I raise the question of whether those of us who wear the brand are in fact possessions of the company. I would say not, however to me it is a means of cheap advertising, though the cheapest form of advertising is always word of mouth. Personally, I must admit, I like Coopers Pale Ale, and as such I will wear a T-shirt with the brand on it (though I should also point out that the T-shirt was given to me as a gift). I guess, if the brand was a brand that I didn't like, then I wouldn't be wearing it (unless of course I was paid to do so, then I wouldn't have a problem, unless of course it was something that I was violently opposed to).


Some have suggested that the modern corporatocracy is launching a war against the middle class. To be honest I am going to dispute that namely because the corporatocracy needs the middle class, and even a cash flushed working class, to survive. Things have changed dramatically since this book was published, as the corporatocracy attempted to increase profits by increasing availability of credit. However, the more people got into debt, the less of an ability they have to pay it back, and when they cannot pay it back the debt must be written off. Come 2008, the entire economy reaches the brink of collapse, and the banks have not yet recovered. The economy survived, barely, and some still say it is on life support. However, many of the masters of the economy have fallen from grace, but this was not through the actions of demonstrators and protesters, but through their own greed. In the end it is much like a Shakespearian tragedy.


As mentioned, the corporatocracy need the people to survive, to create and grow their profits, but they have effectively reached critical mass. All of the jobs that filled the pockets of American workers have gone overseas, and as such these workers have been left without anything. Further, their savings accounts have also been drained and their credit has been maxed out, therefore they no longer have any money left to partake in the consumer society. Sure, the staples such as Walmart and McDonalds can survive because everybody needs food, but the others can't. Instead, with no money left to suck out of the working class, they need to look elsewhere for support, and unfortunately that does not exist in the developing world. The workers there are still underpaid and cannot afford the luxuries of the west. Therefore, in the end, the corporatocracy is its own worst enemy, and its endless pursuit of power and profits is going to be its own undoing.


Though I still love the free market capitalist who hated short sellers. I know this has nothing to do with this book, but I have to mention it. It is typical of the hippocracy of the extreme capitalist. They love the free market right up to the point that the market spins around and smacks them in the face, then they will jump in with regulations in an attempt to protect their profits. All I can say is if you want a free market, then you have to accept all of the free market, both good and bad. Personally, I see nothing wrong with short sellers, and in fact I actually quite like them because they piss off the capitalist to no end.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/323594123
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review 2015-06-26 11:47
A promising first book
Measure of Danger - Jay Klages

“Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or the government.” – Chris Hedges


Jay Klages knows his stuff when it comes to the military, espionage, rouge military technology and the new and terrifying dangers our world faces today. I wanted to get that out there first, because I think Mr. Klages has a bright writing future. As far as this first book goes, I found a lot to like about it. But I just couldn’t quite ‘lock onto’ the story. It has a lot of the things I like about this sort of thriller. Action at warp speed, a quirky main character. But there were things I believe a good content editor could have really helped with. There were plot angles that simply didn’t work for me – they were too “coincidental”, too unbelievable, for a work with so much promise. I kept getting jerked out of the story with “Huh?” moments. The bland ‘cud munching’ attitude of the security around AgriteX bothered me, as did the oddball FBI reactions to Kade’s experiences and information he passed out to them. It just didn’t feel right.


I look forward to following Mr. Klages work. As a first book, the promise shines through, and I believe that with experience and a bit better management by Thomas & Mercer, his next work can receive a much better review.


This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2015-06-09 17:42
Bringing a whole new meaning to the term 'connected'
Feed - M.T. Anderson

Think A Clockwork Orange meets I, Robot and you're on the right track to grasping the concept of Feed. If you've ever read or watched A Clockwork Orange, you'll remember the made up language/slang called Nadsat which was so complicated that a glossary was included at the back off the book. Feed isn't quite that difficult but it does take a meg long time to get used to (that was a little example there). As veteran readers of the blog will know, I am fascinated (or you could say horrified) by the theory that technology will one day destroy humanity as we know it now. One could even argue that it's already well under way. What M.T. Anderson has done is look at how corporations and the media have shaped our culture and what might happen if we surrender fully to it. This is a worst case scenario (at least I hope it is) of what happens when we cease asking questions and nourishing our natural curiosity. What if we were all tapped into the media and each other in such a way that we soon became mere vessels for corporations to exploit? Would life find a way? Find out by reading Feed and letting your imagination run wild.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2014-01-28 16:12
Wear metaphorical ear plugs, many !!!! ahead
The Silent Scandal: Stop the Toxic Attack on Our Bodies - Brittney Kara

*Book source ~ Many thanks to Motivational Press for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


This book is about how big corporations are corrupt and ruining people with their greed. We are surrounded by toxic substances in our food, water, air and products. From the tone of this book, it’s a miracle anyone is alive today. I get that the author is passionate about getting facts out to people about toxins in our environment and I don’t dispute that toxins are out there in abundance. However, while there were some things I didn’t know about when I dived into this book, many of the things mentioned are already widely known.


Also, I was hoping for more ways and means to live a healthier lifestyle that don’t include the extremely expensive products this author is hawking for the company she works for. The majority of the population has no extra funds to buy expensive products, us included. If I had known this book would be more about selling her product than providing solid practical advice I would have skipped it.


Yes, there is a lot of good information in here, but it is wrapped up in an alarmist attitude filled with repetition interspersed with plugging the author’s employer and their products. And I’d like to add, regarding the section about how to remove the toxins in your home, why aren’t plants mentioned? Even if a person does nothing else, adding plants to a home will greatly enhance the air quality. The more plants the better. Yet, no mention is made of this simple solution.


All-in-all I did learn a few things I didn’t know, but I’m sure I could have found out elsewhere without all the exclamation marks and product pushing.

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2014/01/two-for-tuesday-non-fiction-from.html
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review 2013-12-12 23:52
More of a rant than a critical examinaton of the financial crisis
The 86 Biggest Lies on Wall Street - John R. Talbott

As I was making my way through the commentaries that I have already published on Goodreads, fixing up the typos and tightening up some of the grammar, I came upon this commentary that I had written sometime ago and discovered, to my surprise, that it was quite short. The reason that I am somewhat surprised is that I would normally write quite a lot more on the casino culture of Wall Street and its unregulated greed, particularly since it is something that generally boils my blood. Okay, one of the reasons for that is because I am one of the 99% who, while not being the hardest of workers, feels that I have been relegated to some corner of the corporate world on little more than a subsistence salary while other, less deserving people, are racking in their millions at the expense of basically the rest of the world.

Now, the problem with this book is twofold: first of all, while he does claim to get to the crux of the problem that led to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, I felt that this book was written a little too soon after the events and tended to be much more of a rant that generally does not get to the core of the actual problem. In many cases he seems to gloss over a lot of things and was also critical on the use of language that was not at the heart of the problem (such as the difference between a liquidity crisis and a solvency crisis). I feel that there are much better books on the whole issue out there than this book, and I feel that it has simply been written by somebody who has a chip on his shoulder (probably because he lost all of his money, and found himself out of a job, when the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan).

My biggest issue with the Global Financial Crisis is what has been termed as the greatest bank robbery in the history of humanity. Now, when I make comment about it being a bank robbery, I am not talking about something like this:




rather I am talking about somebody like this:




giving somebody like this:




a bucket load of money because his financial institution (the Bank of America) was on the verge of bankruptcy and if it were to go under then there would be untold pain and suffering erupting across the entire world, which basically means that this guy:




no longer gets to live in a house that looks like this:




or is able to use one of these:




to get to work every day.

The main cause of the Global Financial Crisis actually has a number of concerns: one of the major ones was that the previous bubble, known as the Tech Wreck, in which a bucket load of internet companies collapsed because, well, they weren't actually making any money, was solved through record low interest rates, and this guy:






sitting in that exact pose, basically told everybody that the should go out and spend, spend, spend. So, being the good American citizens that they were, they did, and they spent their money on anything and everything. When they didn't have any money left that didn't stop them because then they pulled out their credit cards, and took out loans on their houses, and continued to spend, spend, spend.

The banks, who were foresightful enough to see that there was a problem (namely that if all of these people were borrowing money but were not going to be able to pay it back), and knowing that if all of these woefully indebted people were to all go bankrupt then they would also be in a lot of trouble (because banks have debts as well), decided that they would solve the problem by packaging all of their loans up together, and parcel them out as securities, and their mates in the ratings agencies were kind enough to endorse these securities as being rock solid investments.

However, the people that had lent the banks money were also concerned that maybe they wouldn't get their money back, so they went to the insurance companies and asked them if they could take out insurance against the debts that the banks owed them. When the insurance companies looked at the list of blue chip banks that were indebted to these people, they said 'no problem' and sold them insurance polices against the unlikely event that these banks would not be able to pay back their debt.

Oh, and after selling off all of their debts, and getting their money back, the banks, who actually do not know what to do with money, other than lend it to people, realised that they had a stack of cash with nothing to do with it, so they did what they did best: lent it out again. All the while the banks were packaging up the loans and onselling them to stupid (did I say that? These investments were AAA according to Moody's and Standard and Poors) investors.

However, something unexpected happened (actually it wasn't all that unexpected, but the results of this event were) and that was that the economy was starting to overheat, so the Federal Reserve, in an attempt to cool an overheating economy, began to raise the interest rates. This started causing problems because all of those good people who were able to pay back their debts suddenly discovered that they were having difficulties meeting the interest payments. Now, banks always expect to have some bad debts on their books, and also expect to have a certain number of defaults, however as the interest rates continued to rise, the bad debts continued to grow - exponentially.

This started causing problems because the banks were not actually getting their interest payments (let alone their principles) and they themselves were starting to have problems making ends meet. While the big banks were struggling, the smaller, fringe institutions began to discover that they were up a certain creek without a certain propelling device. Thus the outliying fringe institutions (known to us as sub-prime lenders) began collapsing like a house of cards. Now, these sub-prime lenders would be underwritten by larger banks and the knock on effect meant that some of these larger institutions (first of all Bear Sterns) began to collapse, culminating with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

When Lehman Brothers collapses; well, everybody thought that this was the end, but remember those insurance polices that were written to be paid out in the event that one of these blue chip institutions suddenly went bust – well, they had to be honoured, and all of the sudden the biggest insurance company in the world (AIG) suddenly found that it didn't have enough cash reserves to actually meet the payments, and while they would normally go running to their reinsurers to bail them out, because these were supposed to be safe as houses investments, the reinsurers didn't play ball – thus the world was on the brink of financial armegeddon.

So, we all know what happen – America started printing money like it was nobody's business, and the government dumped well over three trillion dollars into the banks coffers (creating one of the largest government deficits known to humanity) and the senior executives all went off and had a nice holiday in California, while this guy:





took all the blame.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/187440710
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