July 4th: Sorry, America, You Lost Me

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I happened to be in a Big Box Emporium, buying two bags of whole wheat flour, when a strange revelation struck me: almost nothing in this giant emporium was made in the USA.Apologists will quickly point out that the two bags of whole wheat flour were “made in the USA,” and note the US-made items in the food, liquor and beverage aisles; but wander out of these aisles and tell me how many of the hundreds of items are made in the USA (not assembled of foreign components, but made entirely in the USA). The answer is very few.

I suppose this fact is unremarkable to the majority of Americans, but my reaction was, sorry, America, you lost me: how is this not insane to depend on sweatshops thousands of miles away to make virtually everything on the shelves and warehouses of the U.S.?

It’s as if a war was declared on manufacturing in America and we lost–or simply surrendered.

If you want to buy a bulldozer or electric vehicle, you can Buy American, and if you buy an iPhone, the firmware is conjured in Cupertino (the phone is assembled in China of components sourced globally). But below a certain price point and outside the snacks, magazines and beer aisles, U.S.-made good are “special order” if they’re available at all.

Is this because the foreign made stuff is so high quality? No, it’s virtually all garbage quality. A war was declared on quality, and America lost. Virtually nothing on the shelves of America’s Big Box Emporiums and fulfillment warehouses is durable; it’s either designed to fail (planned obsolescence) or it’s so poorly made that it breaks, fades, rips, tears, delaminates or fails, and is dutifully hauled to the landfill as part of the entire Landfill Economy. (Forget trying to repair it; it’s been designed to be impossible to repair, and all the components are junk, too.)

If stuff breaks or fails in short order, it isn’t cheap, no matter what the price says.It’s expensive because it must be constantly replaced. A war was declared on value, and America lost. Sorry, America, you lost me. How is the transition from quality and value to junk not a complete disaster for the nation?

So what is the business of America? Marketing. Everything boils down to marketing in America. Everything is a channel to collect consumer data that can be monetized (no, you can’t monetize your own data; that’s not how it works) or a channel to upsell anyone ensnared in the value chain.

You may naively think an iPhone is a device for phone calls and texts. Silly you! It’s nothing but a channel to upsell you Apple services. The “settings” on my old SE still have a nag notice because “setting up” your iPhone means signing up for Apple TV, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple Skim and Apple Scam.

My Mom-in-law is in her 90s and like many in her age group, she enjoys watching TV. She lives with us and so we handle the cable TV subscription for her. She asked us to get the commercial-free English-language network from Japan, NHK, and of course this is only available in a package of rubbish channels.

Since I have a basketball hoop for my fitness amusement and have long been a roundball fan, I clicked to the NBA channel listed. It was nothing but a series of moronic adverts. I tried again later, nothing but moronic adverts. I gave up on the third try, because it dawned on me that apparently this channel doesn’t actually televise any actual basketball, it only promises to do so at some later date; and in the meantime, here is an endless stream of moronic adverts.

Sorry, America, you lost me. Marketing and upselling is not prosperity or success, it’s ruination.

The list of channels that are nothing but data mining, marketing and upselling is endless in America. Every subscription service is nothing more than a channel to upsell you on “Premium services.”

Social media: nothing but data mining, marketing and upselling.

Internet Search: nothing but data mining, marketing and upselling.

Media, telecommunications, banking, etc.: nothing but data mining, marketing and upselling. Look at the most profitable and highest valuation corporations in America, and their sole business model and reason to exist is data mining, marketing and upselling.

The Healthcare Borg is also nothing but data mining, marketing and upselling. If you want to get a look indicating profound suspicion of your motives and beliefs, tell your healthcare provider, “I’m over 65 and don’t take any meds.” Within the Borg, such a statement can only mean 1) you haven’t yet signed up for Medicare/Medicaid, and we need to get you in the gravy-train pronto; 2) you’re some kind of nutcase who refuses medications, or 3) you’re a dangerous subversive who should be reported to Facebook as a potential extremist.

The Healthcare Borg’s marketing has reached extremes of absurdity. Practitioners are under extreme pressure from Corporate HQ to bill you for something on a regular basis, and so I received increasingly frantic phone calls and emails demanding I set up a telemarketing, oops, I mean telemedicine confab with my PCP (primary care physician–the Borg loves acronyms as much as the Pentagon).

I halfway expected to be accosted on the street by thugs informing me to make a telemedicine appointment or “we’re gonna have to break something.” Sorry, America, you lost me.When healthcare stopped being about nurturing health, especially via basic preventative measures, and became a profit center and marketing channel, the well-being of the nation spiraled into the sewer.

While I foolishly waited for a basketball game to appear on the NBA channel–how naive of me!–I clicked through a few movie channels. The offerings were the most recent batch of the super-hero genre. As a huge fan of action films, I had hopes these might reverse my disinterest in the genre. Nope. The movies were not bad, they were simply… uninteresting and derivative.

Sorry, America, you lost me. Everything that’s a derivative of something that was creative and fresh decades ago is uninteresting, and virtually everything is a derivative. America is subjected to a remake of a remake of a remake, with a switch of media being the supposed creative magic.

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America’s cultural obsession with super-heroes made me wonder, in a dangerously subversive fashion, what this means beneath the superficiality of reaping reliable profits.Does it now require super-human powers to survive the onslaught of exploitation, profiteering, overwork and exposure to fanatical marketing, data mining and upselling that is life in the USA?

Or does this cultural obsession reflect our fear that we’re so far gone down the road of worshiping billionaires blowing billions on space tourism that only super-heroes can save us?

Sorry, America, you lost me. Many readers will write all this off as the sour rantings of some out-of-it geezer. But ask yourself: what if everything said here is correct, but nobody dares talk about it because that might make it real?

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