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Disaster marketing?

In the news: “U.S. Lays Out $1 Billion for Swine Flu Vaccine

Isn’t it interesting that every time some really bad news go around in the press, after we have repeatedly been told that something very, very bad, very dangerous has happened or just about to happen, the next thing we read about is governments dispensing HUGE amounts of cash to private businesses?

Let’s take a look. What were the worst and biggest news of the last few years?

1. Iraq has nuclear weapons and wants to use them against the US!
2. Trillions of dollars across several countries paid out to private, for-profit businesses in the war-happy “defense” industry.

1. There is a mortgage crisis!
2. Trillions of dollars of “salvage money” handed out to banks worldwide (a nice chunk of which ended up in those “troubled” bankers’ private accounts as “bonuses”).

1. Swine flu may become an epidemic!
2. A billion dollars handed out to pharmaceutical corporations.

Anybody noticing a pattern here?

With the exception of the first one, I  don’t mean these aren’t real problems (or at least we are led to believe so) but… did they “just happen”? If the largest corporatons in those industries have some of the finest public relations experts in the world at their disposal, how hard is it to manufacture stories or create a crisis? Or find something that is (or may be) a real problem, drum it up to add some dramatic edge to it and then ride it until there is enough scare that people in the right places agree, and “the public opinion” supports them, that we have to do something (i.e. dispense money) to solve it?

Per this website, 3.27 billion dollars were spent on lobbying in the US in 2008 alone, and it has been going up every year. Since most of this money comes from large corporations in the “defense” (war-related - $150 million), banking and finance ($460 million) and pharmaceutical ($393 million) industries, one would think that if they invest such a huge amount in lobbying, and even more on press and public relations, they surely want a return on that investment. One way of ensuring that the government does dispense the money demanded by these corporations is scaring them: “You see, we told you, if you don’t pay, you will be responsible for the deaths of millions of people. It is all over the press, you can’t say you didn’t know about it. We warned you. Are you sure you want to be responsible for the deaths of millions of people? It’s not your money you are spending anyway. Sign here.”

Do today’s most expensive problems “just happen” and governments charitably spend these huge amounts of money on fixing them, or do they get manufactured using good old public relations techniques so that these monies then have to be spent to solve them?

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There are 2 comments for this post.
  1. Comment #2
    Iran Lawrence on June 11, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I just ran into your twitter posting which took me to your website. I read 3 of your articles and have a pretty solid idea as to the frame of your thoughts which I applaud for being able to see beyond the visible and write about them. People like you are the ones who help to make the rest think in the right direction because most everybody believe the news and unable to sift through the debris and see the manipulators behind the scene. Exercising good ethics in the direction of greater good is a cliche anymore and sound so pollyannaish.

    Another so very important issue here is the punishment that comes with doing something about it, because those of us who engage in such an undertaking are in a minority and can easily be overwhelmed by the forces of evil. Artists, such as myself, are generally brave in voicing their opinion and strive towards changing the status quo in the direction of a better tomorrow; but the costs of this bravery and causative approach come in many forms of attacks and accusations that proves to be quite costly. I personalty keep on winning by moving up to the higher grounds when I see a flood coming and get to have a much wider panoramic view of the valley below.

    The question is: How can we do something about it and win? This could very well be the title of your next article.


    Iran Lawrence
  2. Comment #1
    Frapolgy on May 29, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    OMG, you are so frappin right! The media is the only ones who can scream FIRE! in a crowed theater and get away with it. Why are Americans so gullible? Seems that most people don’t have walking around sense these days.


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