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islandboy
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« Reply #150 on: February 07, 2010, 01:21:41 PM »

Plainly, the money is not in the municipal or state treasuries. Is it in the suburbs? Suburban areas do have better schools and services, and yet most of the money in the suburbs comes from the cities. It is clear that the arbitrary boundaries of municipalities leave the suburbs free to avoid the city's social problems and provide for themselves with all the insularity of the Long Island Sound town that thinks it has the "right" to limit beach privileges to residents because they live there, as if the suburb could exist for one minute without the city to support it. But suburban public services, while pleasant by city standards, are hardly excessive; they are merely adequate. They could not be stretched to cover, on the same level of quality, the millions of city residents as well.  It is widely thought that money for the poor and the cities is actually to be found in the federal government's vast expenditures for war and weapons, plus its lesser but nevertheless huge subsidy programs to industry. But even if our military-industrial spending, industrial subsidies, and other unnecessary public expenditures came to one hundred billion dollars a year, it would not be enough. Consider simply the matter of public education. Suppose we estimate that there are 35,000,000 children from deprived backgrounds who now get a substandard education, and who would require a relatively high quality of education if they are to enjoy anything approaching equality of opportunity in later life. Estimating the cost of such an improvement in their present education by private school standards ( far less than college costs), we could suggest $3,000 per year per child, or $105,000,000,000  annually.  In short, the entire one hundred billion dollars obtained by the most optimistic estimate of what could be gotten from the federal budget, would be used up in providing for the educational needs of these children. Not a cent would be left for other types of education, including colleges, adult education, the education of less deprived children. And yet other billions, hundreds of billions, would still be needed for capital expenditures for dilapidated schools, for urban housing, transportation, medicine, for the adult poor, for the aged, and so forth down the list. We repeat, the entire federal budget would not be enough.
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« Reply #151 on: February 07, 2010, 01:44:59 PM »

By now it should be perfectly clear where the money is: it is not in the "public sector" at all but in the "private sector"---the consumer economy where most of our resources are now expended. "The money" is now being spent for consumer goods. It is being spent on all of the things, large and small, that make up the affluent American way of life--automobiles, appliances, vacations, highways, food, and clothing. All of these things have reached beyond any standard of necessity to higher and higher standards of luxury. It is here that we must, if we wish, tighten our belts. So long as vast social deprivation exists, we do not "need" cars that become obsolete, vacation trips to Europe, electric dishwashers, supersonic planes, or even television entertainment. We not only do not "need" them, we cannot afford them.  It is possible to make the above statement and to mean by it no more than a moral point---that we should all think of our poor brothers, etc.. But if we treat the question of priorities as a moral issue we misunderstand the way in which priorities are established in our society. They are very definitely not established by individual moral decisions. They are decided by the exercise of power, power controlled by the most massive forces in our society. There is no individual choice involved. But where are those forces? Where is the power that says we must spend our money, not on our social needs, but on luxury and waste? This power must be highly visible, for it is one of the most important influences in our society. As we look around, we do not immediately discern it. Where is the command that says "ignore the needs of society"? Look again----it is there.
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« Reply #152 on: February 09, 2010, 12:21:05 PM »

The most powerful, the loudest, and the most persistent command in our society is the command to buy, to consume, to make material progress, to "grow."  The voice of advertising urges us to buy, buy, buy--and it never lets up. And the voice of advertising is only the most obvious of the forces that include the mass media's portrayal of a "way of life" in their programs and stories, the rhetoric of businessmen and politicians praising economic "progress" and "growth," and the overwhelming influence of American high schools and colleges in portraying a materialistic way of life as a desirable form of existence, individually and nationally. What are these voices saying? As we seem to hear them, they say "buy," "consume," "enjoy," "grow," "advance."  But this is only half their message. The other half---just as real as if it were spread in full--page newspaper ads, or spoken imperatively by firm, confident television announcers---is this:  "Don't spend money on city schools, on hospitals, on the poor."  "Ignore the pressing needs of society."  "Don't think about what's inadequate or impoverished in our communal life."  "Forget the blacks, forget the poor, forget the most elementary demands of decency and justice."  If we actually heard and saw such ads, we would be incredibly outraged; yet we "do" hear them and see them, and we heed them.  If it is true that the logic of our economy is what might be called "impoverishment by substitution," this explains what is happening to our world, but it does not explain why we are all so blind both to the process and to the consequences. Not only do we fail to see rather obvious relationships, such as that between the availability of electric toothbrushes and the shortage of good schools, but we fail to see the impoverishment of our lives by the "progress" of our economy.
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« Reply #153 on: February 09, 2010, 12:45:29 PM »

There is a pattern to this blindness too, and it is related to the logic we have already described. In the first place, the substitution phenomenon tends to dull our awareness, even though the substitute may fail to perform the vital functions of the original. Football on Sunday TV is not the same as physical play, but it serves as a placebo to lessen our awareness of loss.  It is not substitution alone, but the management of consciousness that necessarily accompanies substitution, that offers an explanation for our unawareness. To demonstrate this, let us borrow some thinking from Marshall McLuhan. A young boy asks his father, "What do you do, Daddy?" Here is how the father might answer: "I struggle with crowds, traffic jams, and parking problems for about one hour. I talk a great deal on the telephone to people I hardly know. I dictate to a secretary and then proofread what she types. I have all sorts of meetings with people I don't know very well, or like very much. I eat lunch in a big hurry and can't taste or remember what I've eaten. I hurry, hurry, hurry. I spend my time in very functional offices with very functional furniture, and I never look at the weather or sky or people passing by. I talk but I don't sing or dance or touch people. I spend the last hour, all alone, struggling with crowds, traffic, and parking."  Now this same father might also answer: "I am a lawyer. I help people and businesses to solve their problems. I help everybody to know the rules that we all have to live by, and to get along according to these rules."  Both answers are "true."  Why is the first truth less recognized than the second?
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« Reply #154 on: February 09, 2010, 02:32:02 PM »

McLuhan's answer is that a medium itself has no "content."  A light bulb, he says, has no content. The "content" of the father's day is being a lawyer, the purpose of his activity. The medium, however, is the father's actual activities during the day. And, as McLuhan says, the medium is the message, although we don't know it. Translated into more general or cultural terms, it might be said that we are trained to be aware of the goal of our activities, but not to be aware of what is actually happening. What are we doing? Going from New York to San Francisco. Ask again. Sitting five abreast, bored and anxious, re-reading the airline brochure, cramped, isolated, seeing and thinking nothing.  What are we doing?  Ask again.....   It is apparent that we are far less aware of some sides of our culture than of other sides. It is this differential awareness that is revealed when we all know that a jet travels from New York to San Francisco, but we are "surprised" to learn that a jet makes a great deal of noise. At the most simple level of explanation we could say that we are taught to be an instrumental people; we think of the purposes or goals of some aactivity rather than of the ctivity itself; where the plane is going, what a lawyer is trying to accomplish, what the future results of a telephone conversation will be. A businessman, to use a familiar illustration, is persuaded to think of profits, not of what it takes to make them, or what the effect of making them is. We are numb to some things, other things are repressed, and our consciousnesses are so managed that certain things are simply omitted from the culture. The ordinary man's suit eliminates his body from the culture during the day; during a conference one conferee has no awareness of another's body. On the other hand, if businessmen dressed in the Renaissance clothes that we see on the Shakespearean stage, the body would again come back into their culture. In somewhat the same way, our awareness of the hours spent on the plane is "taken out of the culture."
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« Reply #155 on: February 09, 2010, 02:48:15 PM »

The whole logic we have been describing--exploitation, substitution, numbing of awareness--may be seen at once in the phenomenon of Disneyland. Economic progress destroys nature, adventure, traditions, and the local community. A plastic substitute is constructed and admission is charged. Advertising and promotion then work to convince the people that they are really experiencing Main Street, The Wild West, the history and adventure of America. As the families flock to the clean, sunny, happy enclosure, how many of them realize that something precious has been taken from them, that they are being charged for a substitute that offers only sterile pretense in place of real experience?  how many find the chief experience at Disneyland to be a sense of loss of all that they are "seeing" ?
If substitution is the pattern by which the Corporate State has created a world, perhaps we can now look and see what that world has cost us. Perhaps we can throw off the numbness enough to take a more accurate measure of our losses. We can start with poverty and the allocation of resources, and continue through environment, work, culture, and community.
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« Reply #156 on: February 16, 2010, 12:28:57 PM »

Each year still more is spent for private use by the fortunate portion of the country; the gross national product rises steadily; and each year there are more drastic cutbacks in expenditures for the community purposes. The decay is spreading; more and more institutions feel the strain; even symphony orchestras are trapped in the spiral of rising expenditures for new kitchen utensils and garden implements. but the sufferers are not institutions but people; the people who are already at the bottom of the ladder, and, above all, the young people whose hopes die in an overcrowded, dingy, and stultifying school.  If we leave the subject of allocation of resources and public services, and proceed to the physical environment in which we live, the problem is again one of seeing. Some aspects of the environment created by the Corporate State are not at all difficult to notice; they make a violent  assault upon the senses. Noise, whether of jets, supersonic planes, or 3-wheelers on a forest trail, attack us all. Air pollution causes people to cough and cry, and airport or automobile congestion causes acute misery and anxiety. In the same way, we are aware of the increase of crowding, of long lines, of enforced orderliness, of the disappearance of space between people. We have a large capacity to get used to such discomforts, but the technology seems to force us faster than we can adapt. thus those who have barely adapted to the interior of a hundred-passenger jet must face the prospect of a five-hundred-passenger jet, with people sitting ten abreast.  We are also aware of violent alterations in the environment which change our accustomed way of life. Freeways cut up our cities and countryside, developments encroach upon the seashore and level the hills, ugliness is strewn everywhere, neon glares obscure the night, huge buildings block the sun. We walk a favorite woods path only to encounter the desolation of bulldozers, blasted tree stumps, and destroyed vegetation. In these instances of assault, where there is little offsetting satisfaction, it can readily be understood why people are starting to realize that they are being pushed, shoved, and hassled.
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« Reply #157 on: February 21, 2010, 03:22:56 PM »

But there are other kinds of environmental change that are not so obvious. A good example is a modern, high-rise apartment house. Life inside is enclosed by small, identical rectangles that provide not a wasted cubic foot of space for the occupant, nor an irregular angle or cranny where his thoughts can find refuge. Fresh air is not welcomed; it is filtered through an air-conditioning system. The sounds of weather are muffled, but the grating sounds of other occupants penetrate through the thin, uninsulated walls, ceiling, and floors. Long hallways remind the occupant that he or she is only a number on an identical metal door. Some apartments are located near elevators, incinerator shafts, or other maintenance facilities, and so are subject to disturbance from these sources. everyone is dependent on elevators; these prevent one from going for a casual look outside. a pretentious lobby and guard make sure that no occupant can expect the knock of an unexpected friend. Safe in his apartment, the occupant has no contact with the life of the street, with wind or weather, with the seasons, or with the land. // Of all the changes that have happened to man, perhaps the deepest and least understood is his loss of land, of weather, of growing things, and of the knowledge of his body that these things give.  We deprive man of exercise or use for most of his muscles. We feed him substances that have no comprehensible relationship to any living or growing things, or to any work or effort on his part. We insist upon so much waste that man never establishes any knowledge of the properties of particular objects, whether clothes or food; everything is thrown away before it acquires any meaning. And man is wholly, utterly, irretrievably deprived of any sense of place. Most people are forced to move several times during their lives, and even if they stay in the same place, the environment is constantly being altered, so that it can no longer be recognized.
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« Reply #158 on: February 21, 2010, 03:44:32 PM »

Man used to spend a thousand years in the same place, his roots went down deep; he built his life around the rhythms of the earth and his mental stability upon the constancies of nature. Can a hundred years change his physiology enough so that the need for these rhythms and certainties no longer exists?  We know almost nothing of the origins of mental illness and character disorders; we know still less about the sources of happiness, satisfaction, and stability.  One thing that is certainly lost is the ability to adapt to physical circumstances. A storm can now disable a city; this is said to be because our technology is so interdependent and therefore so vulnerable. But it must also be true that human beings have ever less ability to cope with any new circumstances, they are ever more passive, they cannot make do, or do without a meal, they cannot walk, and many streets and bridges are now built without sidewalks. In a deeper sense, the ability to cope is related to some kind of environmental stability. One learns to cope with the idiosyncrasies of an old car or an old fireplace, but one cannot learn anything useful about constantly new appliances. In its turn, this inability to cope produces anxiety.
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« Reply #159 on: February 26, 2010, 02:46:56 PM »

Once the State begins to control the environment, it is natural to act against people as for them, where policy so requires. Thus the same power that produces air-conditioning produces poison gas, defoliating agents, chemical Mace, or does research on germ warfare. For we have shown that in the  Corporate State, power is not controlled by any human values and is indifferent to such values. So it is that we produce weapons of destruction with the same efficiency that we produce jets and apartment buildings; so it is that in war we systematically assault the environment of a whole nation---the growing things, the wildlife, the communities---as policy requires. The bombed ruins, the planned sterility of an apartment house, the "accidental" destructiveness of jet noise over a residential community, are all forms of the substitution phenomenon spoken of earlier--the substitution for the natural environment, whatever the consequences for man.   A third aspect of the world of the Corporate State concerns work.  The special problem of the Corporate State concerns the artificially of much work that is now done----another aspect of the substitution phenomenon.
High school or college teaching illustrates what is happening. The basic task of a teacher is to teach students, and a related task is to pursue his own scholarly interests and keep his mind alive. But the Corporate State has forced many teachers to spend much of their time and energy on artificial administrative activities, and activities created for them to serve administrative purposes.
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« Reply #160 on: February 26, 2010, 03:11:25 PM »

College teachers have endless committee and faculty meetings devoted to such problems as new appointments, promotions, curriculum, and admissions. They attend panel discussions, symposia, give speeches, and participate in professional conventions in many parts of the country and even in foreign countries. Their advice or assistance is sought by outside organizations ranging from presidential commissions to local community groups. And above all, they are continuously engaged in "research and publication," activities that require half or a third of any college teacher's time. And this is not the self-renewal and search for enlightenment that a teacher needs, it is high pressure, forced type of "production", designed to satisfy criteria for promotion and tenure. Teaching continues, of course, but the average professor does not have time for the sort of personal concern for students that would constitute teaching in a more old-fashioned sense of the word.  It is clear that there has been a substitution of one kind of work for another.
The pattern by which real work  (work that is satisfying and personal) is transformed into something artificial and empty is visible all through those jobs which are under the influence of technology and organization. In the medical profession, there is an acute shortage of doctors to care for people; so acute that many hospitals use foreign- trained doctors for their staffs, and many localities are wholly without medical care. It is commonplace observation that personal care by doctors has drastically declined. What has happened?
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« Reply #161 on: February 28, 2010, 03:45:05 PM »

One thing is that the available doctors have been lured into the organizational vortex---research, technology, administration, professional activities---and hence have no time to practice.  This aspect of the problem is much the same as the problem of teachers. A second problem is the increasingly costly, time-consuming, specialized, and demanding education, with its diminishing satisfactions. If one is going to lead an organizational--technological life, there are better places to lead it than medicine. The great lure of medicine, its personal side, participation in the crises of life, helping people in a vital way, is lost in the process.  From work we move to culture. There is much that we could say about the shabbiness and tawdriness of American mass culture, about neon signs and hotdog stands, but it has been well said elsewhere, and is of no special concern here. Our concern is with culture and consciousness. Culture in America provides one more manifestation of the concept of impoverishment by substitution. Because of the substitution phenomenon, one of the prime characteristics of American culture is that the genuine is replaced by the simulated. When the radio gives us five minutes of news, there is staccato noise or music in the background, sounds of explosions, fighting, or catastrophes to simulate excitement; we are not allowed to find excitement in the news itself. Substitution: When something is put in its place, the ability to experience the genuine is reduced.  It deadens our curiosity and makes our ignorance more stubborn.
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« Reply #162 on: March 11, 2010, 12:35:06 PM »

Adventure, challenge, danger, imagination, awe, and the spiritual are banished by this culture, which tries to make everything safe, bland, and equally delightful.  Perhaps the greatest and least visable form of impoverishment caused by the Corporate State is the destruction of community. Man's greatest need, after food and water, is for a circle of affection; man is a communal animal and he craves his kind. But even though we are starved for community in our world, we may not realize it.  Today our experience of genuine human community is so limited that we are hardly aware of our loss, and the substitutes provided keep us so busy that emptiness is drowned in busyness. Actually, the erosion of community is one of the major effects of the industrial revolution, and such consequences as the destruction of villages and the effects of harsh competition have been discussed. Our concern is with the continuation of that process by the world of the Corporate State, and the operation of the substitution phenomenon: the substitution of false communities for real ones. For example, the Corporate State continues the destruction of neighborhoods, replacing them with offices or apartments, and the neighborhood people are compelled to look to new forms for a sense of belonging.
It is ironic that the form of community most praised and cherished by American society, the family, has probably suffered the greatest destruction at the hands of the Corporate State, Technology has deprived the family of almost all of its functions. The State wants the family to be a unit for consumption, to exist for the purpose of watching television, using leisure products and services, and living the life of false culture. The State wants its consuming units as small as possible; were it not for certain biological necessities for which substitutes have not yet come into use, the solitary individual would be the best possible unit for the State's purposes.
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« Reply #163 on: March 11, 2010, 12:58:36 PM »

As it is, the State's domination is shown by the fact that old people are separated from the rest of the family, condemned to uselessness and isolation, perhaps to a "leisure community", aunts and cousins have suffered the same fate, and the "family" has been reduced to the "nuclear" grouping of parents and young children. Technology has created a youth culture, consisting of education for positions in the system, plus a special consumer status, and the result is that children cease to be a part of the family by the time they reach high school. This leaves the parents themselves---although they are also separated to a significant extent by the husbands's job and the wife's increasingly special functions. A nuclear family is, quite evidently, not a large enough unit to supply the warmth, security, and familiarity of a communal circle of affection. Two is better than one, but it is not enough. But when the couple searches for something more, they cannot find it. Friday and Saturday dinner parties, with their hours of sterile conversation, provide no warmth for any of the participants; if warmth, fondness, affection, and companionship were food, a person could go to dinner and cocktail parties nightly and soon starve. What has the State provided to take the place of the circle of affection?  First and foremost, "love", "sex", and "romance" to be pursued in frenzied fashion beginning with puberty, and with the aid of countless commodities, but strangely depersonalized and unsatisfying.   Finally, a theory that the process of living consists of using things, instead of being with people.
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« Reply #164 on: April 06, 2010, 07:28:19 PM »

Over the years we have gradually got used to an ever-more frantic pace of living, a constant acceleration of experience, where men eat, talk, and think faster and faster, until a memorandum read on a plane while eating a precooked lunch becomes the normal way of life. One of the great new activities is security. A profession of security men has grown up, numbering hundreds of thousands of persons, who protect us from ourselves. But the greatest new activity is, of course, technological war and preparation for war. the manufacture of arms is one of the largest businesses, the study of strategy one of the prime mental efforts. The energies, resources, and the minds of Americans are lavished upon this as upon nothing else. A world that is artificial  is also one that is lifeless, and a society that sets out to manufacture an artificial world ends as a manufacturer of death.
It is all epitomized by Astro Turf, the new artificial football field developed by Monsanto, with nylon tufts that are "better than grass," a shock-absorbing pad beneath that "can't turn to mud even if it rains buckets," no dirt so that "uniforms stay clean and bright the whole game long," a grass-green color that the coming of winter cannot fade, and better footing than earth can provide. This is how we are using our resources while the poor get poorer; this is how we are losing our knowledge of land and living things.
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