Saturday, July 14, 2012

Television has ruined America, Pt 2 video games.

In my previous piece on the subconscious effects of televised media, I spoke about mirror neuron response. Its pervasive effects can be felt in our daily lives in some of the most profound ways. Video games also present actions that on a subconscious level are being vetted as a learned behavior. Scarier still, modern systems of fighting seem to be exploiting the very skills, and disassociated attitudes that video games generate.

One of the horrible things about war is that people die and even if you live, the imagery of being apart of so much death and violence can leave veterans haunted for life. But what if you could kill with impunity. Swoop in, invincibly slaying opponents that you never had to face and at the end of the day, return to your family. That day is today. Video games allow you to "kill" as many enemies as you wish with hurting anyone in real life, if you are taken out, you simply wait to re-spawn.

A predator drone can zip off the deck of a battle ship far out of the reach of the target's guns, fly in and destroy the lives of "enemy combatants" targets, and fly home on auto-pilot while the controller breaks for lunch. The disassociated pixels he faced on the computer screen, no more real to him than the millions of computer generated images he might have "destroyed" during training or playing video games as a child.

By taking the risk out of warfare, the military has sidestepped one of the biggest hurdles of popular opinion during wartime, casualties. But like any arms race, once technology has been developed and deployed, it is only a matter of time before it universalizes. The desire to reach out like "the hand of god" and destroy with impunity can only be ours temporally.

Much of the technology can be imitated with off the shelf goods. How long will it be before flying bombs made from radio controlled planes with off the shelf video transmission sets start to represent the greatest challenge for ground troops instead of crude IEDs. Just imagine the position of superiority China will hold as this becomes the norm for warfare with the manufacturing infrastructure they can easily re-purpose.

As always I welcome all comments, anonymous or not, and will not edit or omit them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Flaws of the free market, pt. 2.

In my last post about free market ideals, I pointed out that without the american military protecting globalized shipping interests, most large companies that exist today wouldn't be nearly as profitable. Most free market proponents don't take into account that business relies on infrastructure that is paid for with tax dollars. From streets and highways or sewer and water systems to early education for what will become its employees, no business is capable of existing in a vacuum. So why does business put so much time and effort into cutting its own throat by shirking its fair share of taxes? 

The corporate ethos of quarterly profits is a big part of the problem. If you only have to act for the benefit of short term interests, thinking long term is impossible. This is strikingly apparent in the extractive industries like mining and oil exploration. The economic interests of resource exploitation don't add up when you consider the environmental impacts often associated with them. The hard won lessons of the past; like the super fund site in Idaho's Silver Valley that still to this day contaminates an important aquifer system despite billion dollar clean up efforts, seem completely lost to modern oil and mineral exploration companies. 

We all pay for massive clean up efforts, massive scale infrastructure, foreign and domestic security, and a host of other interconnected systems. Many of these system disproportionately benefit many big business models, like social security (decreasing the dependence of labor forces on retirement benefits) and the aforementioned eleven carrier groups that protect shipping interests. So how does the corporate sector justify the efforts to reduce their tax burden? Are they blind to their place in the system? Again this falls to the "kick the can down the road" short sighted mentality of corporate ethos. 

Sustainability needs to become the new metric of success. Instead of asking if a company will turn a profit next quarter when investing money, people need to start asking how many years can the company stay in business with its current model. Longer term investment strategies need to become the norm with short term profit motivation maligned as dangerous for our society and environment. The concepts of; "disposable", "single use", "designed obsolesce", and other purely economically driven models are antithetical to patriotism. Investing in any company who still clings to such outdated modalities or the necessarily short sighted ideals of free market economics is out right un-american.