Saturday, October 17, 2020

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE VACCINE AND JC PENNEY

 

Sometimes Trump accidentally gives us real, hardcore truth. I don’t mean about himself – in fact, he is remarkably transparent about his own fetid self, and he reveals more psychological skin than anyone wants to see – but about the mess we’re in.
 
Such a thing happened in the possibly only debate he will have with Joe Biden. The Yelly-Shouty Debate.
 
Trump reacted with genuine stupefied astonishment when someone suggested Americans might not trust the vaccines which Trump promises are just around the corner. With a boy’s astonishment, he asked, “You don’t trust Pfizer? You don’t trust Johnson and Johnson?”
 
With those words, I was taken back to another time and another reality. In that other time my mother bought – no, not just bought, believed in - Sunlight laundry detergent, and purchased it every week (no matter what the price) because she was absolutely sure it was better than all other soaps.
 
If you think this is odd, it should be noted that her father, my Papa, always bought a new Oldsmobile because he believed in them as a solid and respectable car. And he believed that driving an Oldsmobile said something about him.
 
In fact, back in the day, a lot of men referred to themselves as a “Ford man” or a “GM man” or “a Chrysler Man,” even though they didn’t work for those companies. All they did was repeatedly buy their cars.
 
(By the way, it makes me wonder what happened to the guys – they must have existed - who called themselves “a Packard Man” or a “Hudson man” or a “Stutz Bearcat” man. When these cars ceased to exist, did they worry that they themselves would cease to exist? Disappear in a puff of smoke? Float through limbo full of regret that they had not chosen to be a “Ford man”?)
 
My Nana bought Maxwell House coffee instead of Folgers to show she was a solid member of the middle class. People would buy Pyrex bowls to prove they were churchgoers, or RCA radios to prove they were conservative in approach. You shopped at Macy’s because they “took care of you” and “cared about you.”
 
I’m pleased to tell you that my own children think I’m making this shit up.
But while my kids are staring at me, I offer a moment of candor: I actually like the orderliness of this world. I would like the rules to be this simple. Who wouldn’t? Because it suggests we could trust the company and we could trust its products. And maybe not without reason.
 
I suspect Fords and Oldsmobiles actually were once okay cars. I do remember that there used to be an actual difference in soap quality, and I suspect some stores did make an effort to be efficient operations grateful for your business.

So what happened? Well, the last forty to fifty years has changed all that. Pretty much since the baby boomers took over running things. I’m not just talking about the rise of basic rip-off culture -- all the plastic crap I bought at Toys R Us for my kids, the fact that we’re jammed in like sardines on airplanes, the fact that we wind up doped on high fructose corn syrup just for drinking what we thought was lemonade, or that we drive cars that are – literally – plastic. I’m talking about the sheer downfall of consumer products as well as corporate engineering.
 
Or to put it another way, the people who run our corporations today not only can’t deliver the goods, they can’t even run the companies, and it’s time we stop pretending otherwise. In fact, the business class in America doesn’t even know how to do business. We just pretend they do, and they pretend they can.
 
If you don’t believe me, then how is it that the world’s most famous mail-order department store, established in 1890, allowed itself to be destroyed – literally destroyed – by a book delivery company called Amazon who beat them at - you got it - delivering stuff to your house?  Yet, as of this year, Sears is gone and Amazon rules the earth.
 
The answer, by the way, is a guy named Eddie Lampert, who went to Yale, worked at Goldman Sachs, and prior to taking over Sears and running it into the ground ran AutoZone, which sells spark plugs. So, you see the thinking of the board in putting Eddie in the top slot
 
And lest you think Sears is some anomaly in the retail world, witness the demise of another giant, JC Penney. This American institution was run into the ground just this year by a guy named Ron Johnson (Harvard Business school). This story is actually kind legendary. Basically Ron came up with the idea of getting rid of sales entirely, implementing something called “Fair and Square” deals, and – get this - putting up to 100 boutiques filled with branded merchandise inside each Penney store, with a “town square” at its core. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what I was thinking.  You’re thinking, “Hey Ron... WHAT THE FUCK??”  But don’t blame Ron. His previous experience was running Apple retail, so you see the obvious connection with a discount retail department store catering to middle and working-class Americans.
 
Maybe Ron should have just re-capitalized Penneys, which is what Toys R Us did when they got into bed with Mitt Romney’s firm Bain Capital, a company designed to basically soak struggling enterprises while ignoring coming trends that might give them a second life - trends, like say, the internet. Believe it or not, Bain billed themselves as experts at turning companies around. Mitt even ran on it.
 
On the subject of finance, how about Wells Fargo? 1,500,000 banking and credit card accounts were opened for clients who had no idea such accounts existed. Then the clients were charged fees. Believe it or not, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the unbelievable crap the venerable WF is guilty of. Banker of the NRA, they’ve also been hit with all sorts of sexual discrimination charges, had to settle a racketeering charge for 50 million in 2016, and they’re big into investing in for-profit prisons, surely one of the more evil moral choices of our age.
 
How about Boeing and the 737 Max? Do I even need to get into that?
 
Or the absurdity of the 2007-2008 economic collapse and the mortgage crisis? There are just too many angles from which to go after that thing, including the fact that apparently no one in the government, at the Fed, or in private industry saw it coming. Certainly not regulators, who are supposed to be looking out for the icebergs dead ahead. I'm serious. These people are supposed to be hella-smart, so why did Hank Paulson, Treasury Secretary, have to walk into President Bush’s office to tell him that if he didn’t do something, the entire world economy was going to collapse that afternoon?
 
Well, now all this stuff is coming home to roost.  Big time.  And what we should have admitted years ago because it was inconvenient is something we MUST admit now because this is about our very lives.
 
The thing to admit is that the folks running our stuff don’t know what they’re doing.
 
I don’t know what they’re pumping out of Harvard Business School, but it’s not anyone who knows how to run an honest, profitable gas station, let alone any kind of corporate structure that requires the public’s trust. Our education systems, our political systems, and our corporate systems have utterly failed us. We're being asked to trust them simply because they exist and we know their names, and not because they have shown anything in the way of honesty or competence. 
 
The immediate problem, of course, is not that we’re about to be asked to put up with a badly run department store or a crappy airline, or cheap cars and crooked banking. No, COVID means now we’re playing for keeps now.  Very soon we’re going to be told to inject whatever shit these jokers dream up in order to ward off a virus every epidemiologist admits we don’t understand yet.
 
So... “You don’t trust Pfizer? You don’t trust Johnson and Johnson?”
 
No, Mr. President. We don't. And why do you?
 
Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder (yes, that baby powder) has been discovered to be toxic. More than 19,000 lawsuits have been slapped against J and J, alleging they knew their product caused ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and fallopian tube cancer. Johnson and Johnson is fighting this tooth and nail, but no one’s doing much for the women with the ovarian cancer.
 
As for Pfizer, just look up the anti-depressant Zoloft or Effexor and then type in the phrase “birth defects.” You’ll choke on what comes up.
 
So I, for one, am not so keen on how this going to play out. But I do have a solution.
 
Until our corporate and government leaders can prove that they know how to run themselves honorably and with the greater good in mind, they need to be pulled off their pedestals. They need to be called out for the rip-off hustlers and hucksters they are, and made to mend their ways incredibly quickly. A few of them certainly need to go to jail (Boeing). But the last thing we should do is put our lives in their hands simply because they have a recognizable name and a big name on the Dow. We’ve already done that, over and over again, and the result is that if you’re not on the bottom of the ocean floor in a Boeing 737 X, you’re one of the 220,000 dead from COVID or part of the estimated 200,000 due to die this fall and winter.
 
The problem, of course, is what are we going to do?  We are still in the midst of a nightmare pandemic and we do need a solution and we do need to have public trust in order to survive. Certainly a vaccine, once it’s developed, needs to be distributed. So how are we going to do it in lightning speed, after decades of chicanery and sheer incompetence on the part of the establishment, who I have just said we shouldn't trust.
 
The answer is really, actually, pretty simple:
 
There are 535 members of Congress. They should be the first to take the vaccine. Then add in the heads of the CDC and the National Institute of Health. Toss in the Cabinet. Plus the heads of the pharmaceutical companies. They all take it. Preferably on live TV, so they can’t cheat. 
You certainly can’t take these folks at their word. Then the rest of us will consider it. 
 
You don’t trust Pfizer? You don’t trust Johnson and Johnson?”
 
Of course we don’t, Mr. President. And you shouldn’t either. And don’t insult us by suggesting that we should.
 





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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE VACCINE AND JC PENNEY

  Sometimes Trump accidentally gives us real, hardcore truth. I don’t mean about himself – in fact, he is remarkably transparent about his o...