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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Timbits, tidbits and other placebo's anyone?

There is a lot more to corporatism, the new theology, than a focus on profits and dividends although those “ends” are used to “justify the means”. And the “means” are nefarious, deliberately dehumanizing, micro-managing and ultimately indefensible. 

There is a inscrutable and toxic take-over by what used to be called “classical conditioning” on the part of all management and governments, as if each of their “supervisees” (and voters) were able to be manipulated by anything extrinsic.

A recent story of a worker who was explaining to his supervisor that the work was becoming oppressive…too many details, in too few hours with too few workers, and yet the worker resisted stooping to the proverbial “its just management stretching everyone too thin to save money and increase profits. And the supervisor’s response: “Could I get you some TimBits?”

That is not a joke. That is not a piece of schoolyard pandering. It is an account of a single conversation in a professional mega-institution that occurred within the last week.

TimBits for a stressed-out worker!!!???….as if another “sugar-laden” placebo will “fix it.”

It is not merely the insult to the worker that is noteworthy; also tragically worthy of note is the belief both on the part of the supervisor and the worker that such a tactic is the best the supervisor can offer. Is this the new model of “leadership"?

And yet, in the last Canadian federal election, the winning party and leader offered “sunny days and sunny ways” as his pandering alternative to the more sombre and some would say “dark” analytical and reasoned offerings of the former (now retired and replaced) leader of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair. He also had the misfortune to be the successor to Jack Layton, former NDP leader, who was a rich combination of substance and hope and optimism.

And then there are the myriad “political timbits” that the current occupant of the Oval Office has served up to his ravenous hordes: “the wall”…”the tariffs” …the victimization of the U.S. by NATO, and all trading partners, the “new space force” (to dominate the heavens by America), and of course, “lock her up”….pure red meat to a gang of rabid rednecks. Included in this menu from the 2016 presidential election are all the mind-numbing epithets painted on his Republican opponents, as if the democratic process could be highjacked by a pre-pubescent narcissist…(as it truly was!)

Classical conditioning, under the guise of enlightened management leadership is a lie. It is to reduce both the perpetrators and the recipients of its “froth” to mechanical robots. The administrators follow some “protocol” promulgated by some bureaucrats in human resources, for seeking and acquiring compliance with whatever working conditions are the “flavour” of the month. The protocol encapsulates the latest “policy” and measureable method of executing the latest surge both for padding the resume of the “leaders” and for maximizing the profits and the dividends of the company and its investors.  Workers have been reduced to pavlovian dogs who simply have to learn to “ring the bell” (comply) in order to remain under the radar of the highly weaponized management (the other side of classical conditioning…the sanctions!). For workers, it has become a “risk avoidance” scheme, in order both to retain the job and to resist the kind of medication that overturns one’s lifeboat…like alcohol or non-prescption , drugs, or even more recently, pain-killing prescriptions. (Last year, 4000 people in Canada died from drug overdoses; the primary demographic was males between 30 and 39, for whom this method of death is now the highest of all causes!)
And for a culture to become so engaged in both timbits (as solutions) and hollow promises and scathing name-calling attacks, both of which are examples of silver bullets used as bait to seduce or to assassinate….we are seriously in danger of becoming our own “armed camp” within our own borders.

Of course, immigrant, refugees, “others” of all descriptions including blacks, indigenous, Latinos, Asians and Arabs (code for Muslims) readily fall into the line of fire of these bullets (by the white supremacists), all of them categorized as “enemy” to be resisted, barred, prosecuted, deported, or jailed. And the reductions in language and in the vacuity of thought that encourages and sustains the language both play into the hands of those white supremacists who seek total domination and control. The establishment, however, drinks the same modus operandi…the simplest and quickest and cheapest “trick” to gain control, compliance and the resulting profits and dividends, or for politicians, dollars and votes.

It is not merely the uber-rich who have aligned themselves with the redneck mob; so too, for the most part has the corporate elite, operating on the reductionistic premise that the removal of all “restrictions” in regulations, labour standards and environmental standards will serve their bottom line…once again the ends justify the means…..in all cases. The rare  recent push-back from the large airline companies against using their fleet to transport children ripped from the asylum-seeking parents is so surprising that it makes the case, as the proverbial exception to the rule.

The ends, as the justification for all the necessary means, is another of the many traps permitted, encourage and sustained by classical conditioning. It seeks and too often achieves complete compliance, given the power and the wealth of the corporations and the government to out-wait, and to overpower all whistle-blowers, and “insurgents” who might deign to express opposition to the prevailing corporate take-over of our institutions, culture and workers and voters. Just yesterday, for another example, the U.S. government announced that it was combining the Secretariats of Education and Labour…effectively closing both.

Public education has been, and will once again long after this cabal has deceased, be a cornerstone of democracy where children from all socio-economic and ethnic and religious backgrounds and beliefs and cultures sit in the same classroom every day, play on the same playground, eat at the same cafeteria and take the same buses as their peers. In American terms, this is the hearth of their melting pot! In Canadian terms, it is the  opportunity to forge acquaintances with kids from a variety of backgrounds that make us a better country, even though we still have serious race issues, on this Canadian Indigenous Peoples Day. Nevertheless, under the mantra of “saving money” as if these departments were a negative drain on the public purse, since they both advocate for public services for students and for workers respectively, they will be effectively razed from public consciousness. (IS the E.P.A. under Scott Pruitt, next for the guillotine?)

Nevertheless, this merger bromide, for public consumption, is just another in the growing and deepening pattern (we hope it will never become a tradition) of leading by tidbit, timbit, tweet, simple, spontaneous and vacuous announcements similar to the kind of “keep them in the dark” mentality that pervades most corporate entities. Public audiences, whether they are on the payroll of the corporate behemoths, or in the screening rooms of homes across North America, are subjected, literally and metaphorically, to the dictum that seems to govern the mentality of top-down hierarchies: “what have YOU done for me lately?

And this one-way street is loosely paved with such miniscule bribes/easers as timbits, or some anodyne of superficial persuasion, as if we (workers and voters) were so gullible and so vacuous and so bendable and malleable as to be easily taken for granted.

What kind of leadership education, or perhaps the word “training” (as in classical conditioning) would be more appropriate, are our leaders being offered? Certainly the business schools graduating the MBA’s are doling out large dollops of classical conditioning, under the guise of a corporate “branding” to brandish the image of the corporate sponsors who fund their students’ tuitions, scholarships and research grants.

Political leaders, too, for the most part, are steeped in the culture of manipulation of both the prospective donor to their campaigns, and eventually the people who cast their votes. Crass manipulation, blatant and overt and condescending spreading of propaganda fertilizer (analogous to the liquid manure poured of farm fields to enhance corn growth for their milk cows.

And also, what kind of critical thinking is being taught in our elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools, that we have a culture willing to accept the pablum “crumbs” (intellectually empty, socially self-serving for the leaders, and bankrupting the long-term interests of both the corporations (public and private) and the governments elected to serve.

LinkedIn trumpets “It is not What you know but Who you know” that counts in career advancement. Another “sell line” that hooks to the “old-boys” (and more recently “girl-power”) networks from which many hires are selected. So, on yet another level, partly as a sheer survival mode, everyone is out to “make a good impression on someone, especially those “someone’s” who can and just might put in a good word for us, sometime, somewhere down the line. And the whole system is “cooked” in the pressure cooker with the brand name “Classical Conditioning”.

We have all become enmeshed, both the referee or the reference, in a game of social engineering, “led” and “dominated” by those writing the script(s).

Of course, the rebels, the artists, the musicians, the dancers and the occasional “misfits” (think Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren) are “interesting magnets with a message too radical for the mainstream. And most are relegated to the philanthropic grant application process, or the reputation-brandishing process of playing concerts and gigs around the world, in order to generate a “following”….When and if we were really serious about changing how we think and how we do “stuff” we would push back against the corporate model of bigness and richness as our definition of quality…against our penchant to listen only to those the establishment has “branded” as acceptable, honourable and worthy of our time and consideration.

We are like those yahoo’s Swift wrote about, scurrying around looking for eyes that will glance our way, and ears that will bend in our direction, desperate for a twitter “following” and a Facebook repertoire of “likes” as our measure of our own value. And obviously we are so desperate that we will grovel for even a bite of sugar, or a morsel of a tweet, or a hollow epithet of a bullying name-calling, or a blatant ruse that disguises the real motive of our panjandrums in positions of leadership, responsibility and mentorship.

Just how desperate have we become to have permitted these blatant, self-serving sales seductions and placebo’s, including the tweets, the tidbits, the timbits and the “policy” sugar cubes (not to mention the calorie-ridden fast-food behemoths whose advertising, marketing and menus are over-flowing our cardiac units, our Intensive Care Units and our suicide numbers.

We are all living at the bottom end of the “food chain” in so many respects that the pattern has become entrenched and we have become “mind-blind, ear blind and heart blind to our own predicament. We no longer either expect or deliver our best: we no longer expect or deliver our strongest, collaborative performance, at least in the public arena…including both governments and corporations. And we all know that we are barely surviving, intellectually, morally, ethically, spiritually, socially and politically.
And it is not only our mortality rates that are suffering; so are our senses of our own worth self-esteem and confidence in our capacity to make a difference.

Occasionally, every few months or so, some little-reported story breaks through the veil of mediocrity. Such a story broke last night on Rachel Maddow. Given the outbreak of yet another horror story originating in the Oval Office, several hundreds of children have been yanked, as in a C-section, from their mothers and fathers, on the highly questionable legal premise that their parents have to be prosecuted for crossing into the U.S. ILLEGALLY!

It seems that a couple in California, seeing into the heart of the problem, knowing that if those parents could provide bail, they would be released until their immigration hearing date, and then re-united with the children. Thinking small, they targeted a goal of some $1500 to provide bail for one family in a social media fund-sourcing initiative. Truth be told, they raised some $15,000,000 (not a typo!) and now will seek to find all of those separated children and their parents and provide bail and reconnection of children with their parents for all families impacted by the inhumane, ridiculous and indefensible program.

That couple is inspiration for all of us, in the midst of this hailstorm of timbits..

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