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Following up on the Rogan thing with words of wisdom from Christina Newman

This is just a short followup post about the Joe Rogan-Spotify situation. I followed a lot of commenters on YouTube who didn’t see anything wrong with what Rogan was doing or who he was promoting. What’s the matter with discussions? It’s a free speech issue. Joe is only a comedian. He didn’t know Spotify was going to pull his episodes. He shouldn’t have to apologize and anyway these alternative routes might be revolutionary breakthroughs. They get no respect from the so-called experts, therefore, they must be good. Pharma just wants to use us as cash cows. (This may have a kernel of truth to it but not where Covid is concerned.)

It started ringing a bell.

There was a YouTuber named Christina Newman who is a cautionary tale of what can happen when you distrust the experts and decide to cure yourself your own way.

Christina’s journey is captured in full starting in 2011. Her family has kept the videos up I think because they offer a warning to anyone who doesn’t take the advice of medical experts for a serious illness.

I’m not going to embed her videos on this page. But you can start with “Why I rejected chemo and radiation” in May 2011. She documents all the major milestones along the way including some major surprises. But if you don’t have time for the whole journey, skip ahead to “Cancer, me and alternative treatments” where she delivers her message in graphic detail. Her words couldn’t be clearer.

If you are a supporter of Joe Rogan and can still support his attitude regarding “discussions” or think this is a free speech issue (Christina covers that too. She’s almost prophetic), I urge you to watch this video in its entirety. You can replace the word “cancer” with “covid” and the message is just as relevant.

Christina Newman passed away in October 2014. She left a family behind including a daughter who was a toddler at the time. She was a smart, brave, articulate woman whose words couldn’t be more appropriate for the time we are living in.

How Do These Three Stories Intersect?

Here are three major news stories. How do they all fit together, what is the common thread running through them? It is not a quiz, I am sure that everyone can figure it out.

1) We read that large companies are engaging in massive price-gouging, and many of them essentially admit to it.

2) Maggie Haberman of the New York Times knew as early as 2017, that Trump was tearing up documents and throwing many of them in the toilet, but is only now telling the public, to coincide with the release of her book.

3) Elon Musk says that within a year, his company will produce humanoid robots, who will “do boring, dangerous, and repetitive work.”

Well, there probably is more than one theme. But the most obvious one is greed, putting profits above any other consideration, to the great detriment of everyone else.

We know that inflation has risen about 7% from last year. There are always different factors in economics. One reason for inflation is pent-up demand from the pandemic lockdowns. Another is supply chain problems as companies did not ramp up fast enough to meet demand. But a very significant one, is simply companies raising prices, because they can get away with it, and can even hide it by simply shrugging, and saying “inflation.”

Here are some examples: Starbucks has said that they will be forced to increase their prices even more this year, because of inflation and supply chain issues. But their last quarterly earnings were the highest ever. Their profits increased by 31%, and they raised the salary of their CEO by 39%. When profits go up more than the rate of inflation, in this case far more, you know that price-gouging is going on.

Shell Oil saw record-breaking profits, due to their increase in gas prices. So did Exxon, which used the profits to buy back $10 billion of its stock, over the next two years. UPS just posted a fourth quarter profit of $3.1 billion. They said that they would be investing most of that into their stock.

Heads of companies are now discussing on their earnings calls, that they are proud of their strategy to raise prices, and accrue more profits for them. Yes, people who own the company’s stock also benefit to a lesser extent, but why should someone who plays the stock market game be better off than the consumer who often is forced to buy the product?

I know all about “supply and demand,” “if demand exceeds supply, prices go up,” from Economics 101. But the Adam Smith model has virtually no relation to this century. And as America, or at least its politicians and duped voters, took away almost all of government’s power to regulate big business, there was nothing to stop companies from raising prices as much as they could get away with. Also, no one is regulating the increasing monopolies, which of course make competition almost non-existent, or at least severely curtailed, so that people have to buy from the mega-corporations.

The Republicans never lift one finger to stop any of this, and in fact participate in it, by buying and selling stocks based on inside information, as when they dumped millions of shares when they were told about the great danger of the pandemic. So it is a game for them, and the profits roll in, and all the right-wing people who fill up CNBC, exult in it, and blame Democrats for any of the negative effects for non-wealthy citizens.

That is the game now; the profits are immense, the prices keep going up; and the rich get even richer; and they use it to get rid of Democrats in office, and put back all the Republicans who give them free rein to do whatever they want.

Am I blaming inflation solely on business, and the Republicans they send hundreds of millions of dollars to elect? No, but most of it. Again, when GDP rises about 6%, inflation is about 7%, and corporate profits in many industries are up 20-40% or even more, it should be obvious that companies are simply raising prices, because they can get away with it. There is no regulatory body to stop them, and many people have no choice but to pay the gas prices if they want to get to work, or UPS costs if they want to send packages, or meat prices if they want to feed their family.

And people don’t understand, so they blame Biden and the Democrats. Meanwhile, Republicans vote against any bill which would try to lower prices or costs, and create more jobs. They do not want the economy to get better, they want to run against inflation.

And what about the ravenous desire for profits that these companies have? Some would say that this is the essence of business and large corporations, to strive for the largest profits possible. As if it is some kind of law of nature that we must respect.

It is not, and there actually are other things which matter in the world. How about the environment? What about people having enough money to eat, and have shelter, without working two or three jobs? Is this only supposed to matter to do-gooders, liberals, empathic people, but the business machine rolls over all of it?

The business of America, is not business, as Calvin Coolidge said it was, a few years before the mad rush for monetary gain sent the country into a ten-year Depression. It should be the welfare of the citizenry. Who is the government; the people, or the corporations? (No, Mr. Romney, corporations are not people, my friend).

It is remarkable how many Americans now only want to focus on how much they hate “liberal culture,” so that the commonfolk’s centuries-old battle against rampaging corporate greed has mostly disappeared, has been diverted by the corporate media machine. Look at Republican media messaging just from that perspective, and the puzzle pieces will all fit together.

Then we have the corporate media, which is run by the same kind of people who gouge the consumers. Their goal is to elect more corporate Republicans, so that they will make more profits for themselves, due to legislators and executives and the Supreme Court they bought, always putting the corporations ahead of the working people.

We know that, and now we are seeing how these media companies either lie and attempt to brainwash and incite (FOX), or spin every story in favor of corporations and Republicans (CNN, CNBC), or are now increasingly, in the case of major newspapers, hiding crucial news stories, either because they do not want it to hurt the corporate owners, or because their journalists can make much more money by keeping it to sell in a book, profits which they, the parent company, share in.

How many times has this gone on in the past few years? With Woodward and Costa’s book? Haberman’s book, which will relate that Trump destroyed White House documents, in violation of the law? John Bolton is not a journalist, but he was a government employee, and he refused to say anything about unconstitutional actions regarding Ukraine until he could get his book published.

What kind of person will not inform the populace, and the law enforcement agencies, that very important laws are being broken, just so they can sell the information after the fact, for profit? Is this not aiding and abetting crimes? Is Haberman’s editor, Dean Bacquet, not also part of this? And the entire entity of the New York Times?

If Trump had stayed in office, and he certainly tried every illegal means to do so, would this have been largely due to Haberman protecting him? The New York Times, which ran dozens of above-the-fold headlines about “Hillary’s emails” in 2015 and 2016, not only did not write anything even close to the front page on Trump’s actual hiding and destroying of classified documents, it was known to their hand-picked White House writer for years, and kept from public knowledge.

Why? Greed, lust for power, no sense of morality. Haberman was hyping the entirely discredited book “Clinton Cash” in 2016, but hiding what she knew and saw about Trump. Haberman makes a lot of money; her advance on her book is large; the New York Times basks in the publicity and profits; and the public is duped, cheated, and treated as manipulated suckers. Unfettered greed. And contempt for others, and complete dereliction of moral responsibility.

Then there is Elon Musk, who is worth something like $200 billion. Well, that is immense wealth, which testifies to business ability, nothing more. It is the only true measure of success to many people, however. Musk is trying to accumulate even more money. $400 billion, $800 billion, the first trillionaire! “Ringle, ringle, coins when they jingle make such a happy sound.” as Ebenezer Scrooge sang in the cartoon musical. “Money, money, money, money, money” as in another song. More, more, more, the quest is never-ending for him.

As important as this is to Musk, it is tied up with his massive ego, which craves being seen as special, and smarter than everyone else. He has developed automated cars which can, and have, crashed into other vehicles. He says he wants to live on Mars. He now says that his company is working on creating humanoid robots, within the next year, and that they will mostly take on the role of doing boring, dangerous, and repetitive work.

Musk, among his many utterances, has said that he fears the rise of Artificial Intelligence, but that he thinks it is too late to stop it. He is certainly not using any of his $200 billion to stop it. Among other things, these robots will take the jobs of millions of human beings, and what will we do with them, Mr. Musk? Not your concern?

I do not like robots, I do not like the entire concept. The brilliant science fiction writer Philip K. Dick was said by a reviewer of his work, to hate robots, and and his books certainly seem to bear that out. He wrote the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” which was made into the movie “Blade Runner,” but though that film evinced a sympathy for the replicants, there was none of that in the novel. Dick was said to like the film, however.

Stephen Hawking said that artificial intelligence is the greatest threat to humanity. It is easy to see why. All organisms seek to survive. And if humans create machines which can calculate and analyze much faster than humans, then of course they will ultimately use that ability to control or destroy humans. A television movie, “Colossus: The Forbin Project’ from over half a century ago, made that point very effectively and frighteningly. The movie “War Games” made it in a different way. Machines cannot be kept as tools, they will escape that, no matter how cute they might initially look, or how friendly they are programmed to seem.

How did this happen, how and why did humans try make machines which are more intelligent, at least in a cold, analytic sense, then they are? I don’t know much about this history, but I assume it was a combination of massive human ego; a deity complex; the foolishness of people wanting to solve some kind of mathematical or scientific problem, and not having the foresight or emotional maturity to foresee the consequences. Or maybe some of them are misanthropes. Or they think that they will own the machines, and use them to gain revenge on their past human tormentors.

Probably a large part of it is greed, in some context. Greed is wanting to have more of something for oneself, less for others; and desperately lusting for the ego-enhancement it gives that person. Would that we had many more people who cared more about the enhancement of the human race in general. But of course some of them think that taking away some drudge work is worth all of the potentially horrendous consequences.

We see avarice all around us. This capitalist system was built on it. This is not to say that I unquestionably prefer another economic system, though classic socialism seems better than social darwinist capitalism. But all systems have their inherent flaws, and all are vulnerable to the flaws of the people who run them. The key is probably not to let anyone or any small group have great power. The absolutely brilliant novel “Riddley Walker,” by Russell Hoban, written in its own unique language, has as Riddley’s ultimate message,”The Onlyes power is no power.”

Power corrupts, greed corrupts. Societies do not do enough to nullify it. There is no perfect solution, none that I have thought of; but the way we are doing it, is not the right way at all. The more people who realize it, the better chance we might have of doing something helpful to ameliorate the world that is being created out of those destructive single-minded compulsions to attain even more money and power.