The Sharecropper State

…in which the vast majority of serfs people never actually own anything, but rent everything.  We’ve seen this trend in innocuous stuff, of course, such as in the online music business where the foul recording industry can take (i.e. repossess) music away from purchasers simply by removing it from “The Cloud” and similarly in TV shows and movies, where the equally-foul studios can do likewise.  (Consumers owning the physical media of CDs and DVDs has always been the bane of the respective industries’ profit plans, both because they can’t control “unlicensed” third-party distribution and because once the sale is made, they can’t claw it back.)

According to Big Business, therefore, property is theft (of the products they consider their own, and not the purchasers’), a sentiment which would have made that foul mountebank Proudhon rub his hands with glee — except of course that he wanted “the people” (i.e. the State) to own everything rather than giant corporations (in his time, the Church).

So what’s brought this rant on?  The Germans — or, to be more specific, the German auto industry.  Try this little scenario on for size (courtesy of Insty):

Volkswagen recently announced that it plans on making massive amounts of money by introducing more vehicles with over-the-air updates (OTAs), many of which will be able to store and transfer personal profiles so that users can effectively just rent their vehicles for eternity. Additionally, VW has suggested future models will have ability to lock features (that have already been physically installed) behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.
“In the future, our customers will buy, lease, share or rent cars just for a weekend, and we can use software to provide them with whatever they need over the air,” VW brand’s sales chief Klaus Zellmer said during an online presentation held on Tuesday. “The ID family has been designed for further development, with OTA updates to improve the software’s performance and tailor it to our customers’ needs.”
Other German automakers have pitched (or introduced) similar concepts over the last few years and it smacks of the terror that is the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” — a plan which envisions a near future were the general populace owns nothing and giant multinational corporations (and their heirs) effectively hold all the cards. It’s the kind of thing one might call you an unhinged conspiracy theorist for believing, until you head over to the WEC’s website to read a dozen or so articles explaining exactly how it’s to be implemented or notice that most Western governments seem to be pushing some variant of the “Build Back Better” campaign. The plot is often the same and hinges upon prioritizing stringent social controls, increased government spending, collaborating with large businesses/banks, and enhanced surveillance in exchange for some vague promises about public safety and environmental reform.

Not content with adding a whole slew of “conveniences” (unnecessary geegaws like remote starting, keyless- and stop-start ignition, “memory” seat adjustment and such) to their cars, said conveniences which simply drive up the cost (and profits) of cars into the fucking stratosphere, these bastards now think they can sell the cows and charge the owners for the milk they draw, ad infinitum.

Yeah, well, maybe not.  I’ve been a lifelong fan of Volkswagen, having owned seven of their various models over the past forty years, but I have to tell you right now:  when it comes time to replace the Tiguan — and it’s going to happen soon — it’s not to a VW dealer I’ll be going.  No way am I going to give them any of my hard-earned dollars to support their evil machinations.  Ditto Mercedes (I’ve been looking at their GLA 250 mini-SUV), or any other car company which wants to initiate a similar program to Volkswagen’s.

Given my age, this will most likely be my last-ever purchase of a new car;  and I was planning on driving it for at least the next decade, or until my brain turns to rice pudding and, not needing a car anymore, I would have to be installed in some care facility which would feed me, wipe my decrepit ass and put up with my incoherent ranting and raving.

But that’s a topic for another time.

In the meantime, I’m going to shop for a new / low-mileage secondhand vehicle, just not of the VW / Mercedes persuasion.

Does anyone know which auto companies don’t plan on this thievery?

Not All Bad

In conversations with property moguls (i.e. Mr. Free Market) the general consensus seems to be that shopping malls are facing a time of commercial decline, caused firstly by online shopping and lately, by the ChiCommiepox.

Yesterday I visited such an emporium universalis, expecting to find an indoor ghost town. And indeed, there were many boarded-up stores, but at a rough guess, only a third of the total.

I should point out that this particular mall — which I actually frequent quite often — is in an area of Plano known as Willow Bend, where houses start at $750k and spiral rapidly into the stratosphere.  One would expect, therefore, that a mall supported by Nouveau Riche Pharttes (there is no Old Money in Plano) or, more specifically, by the wives and teenage kids of the aforesaid would be largely immune to the ups and downs of the economic cycle, and mostly, one would be correct.  To whit, all the department stores (Dillards, Macy’s and Neiman-Marcus) were open for business and doing brisk trade — one saleslady confided to me that the Memorial Day weekend was the busiest she’d ever seen — and considering it was a Tuesday afternoon, still busy.  As were all the jewellers, of which there are close to a dozen (!) in Willow Bend Mall.  All the high-end stores — Talbots, J. Crew, Swarovski etc. — were not only still open but seemingly prosperous, with several Women Of That Ilk peering at the clothes and geegaws.  Ditto the (overpriced) art galleries and toy stores (Crayola? FFS) which, if not filled with kiddies (school day), were at least open and selling merchandise to, one assumes, said kiddies’ mums and nanas.  Ditto the housewares stores like Z Gallerie, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.

The main casualties seemed to be what I call the Fripperies:  candle stores, soap stores and those stores which sell house clutter.  Sadly, the superb cutlery store (razors, knives and swords) was one tragic casualty, unless I missed seeing it (I hope I did:  I buy stuff there at least twice a year).

No doubt, over time this mall will be restored to if not its former occupancy then at least something close to it, because its customer base is, as I said, more likely to be less affected by a downturn than most.

Somehow, though, I doubt it.  On of the things Mr. FM and I often talk about is how the lockdowns have affected what were once considered inviolable institutions:  in-office work, dress codes and so on.  (An aside from Mr. FM:  “There’s no way we’re ever going to be able to enforce a jacket and tie rule ever again — the kids will just tell us to get stuffed.”)

Likewise, I think the lockdowns have accelerated an already-growing trend of shopping which does not have to involve on-premises visits.  I’ll talk about that trend and its marketing implications at a later date.

Darkening Skies

Saw this over at Kenny’s place, and it resonated with me:

While marooned in Siberia a hotel room over the past four months, I watched probably more “regular” TV shows than I’ve watched in more than twenty years past.  And over time, I suddenly realized that the above meme is quite correct:  there aren’t any.

I mean, yes there are a few White people around, but you have to really look out for them.   And if not solo acts, they’re as often as not part of a mixed-race couple, or a figure of fun and ridicule.

“Oh Kim,” I hear the progressive wokists gloat, “now you know how the POC  [persons of color — I know]  felt all these years, when ad agencies never cast Black or Brown people in ads except as part of a stereotype-filler.”

And if these oh-so smart, hip creative types (mostly, it should be said, based in New York, L.A. and Chicago) want to redress a long-ago grievance, that’s fine.  But it cuts several ways.

Do you think a Chinese consumer is going to respond well to a commercial featuring Black actors?  Or an Indian consumer to an ad featuring a mixed-race couple and their coffee-colored babies?  Or, for that matter, a White consumer — oh wait;  that’s because all Whites are raaaaaayyyciss and POCs can’t be.

Uh huh.

Having been in this game myself, I also know that the reason behind casting Whites was that that particular demographic group was where the market (i.e. the money) was.  And if I can be honest:  in time, I (and many, many others of my ilk) may come to treat advertising precisely the same way that Blacks and such used to treat all-White TV commercials:  as something to be ignored.

Ignore that message at your peril, Madison Avenue.

Gummint Meddling

Just as they’ve been doing with the gun industry and other such activities they don’t approve of, banks (aided and abetted by the usual assholes e.g. John Fuckface Kerry) have turned their fevered gaze towards the eeeevil energy companies.

Climate envoy John Kerry is prodding major U.S. banks privately to announce commitments for climate-friendly finance as part of the administration’s climate change policy rollout at President Joe Biden’s Earth Day summit next month.

…and of course because banks are in business purely at the behest of government, they will no doubt hasten to do what he tells them.

This Green bullshit has to stop, and I’m glad to see that some states are fighting back.

Fifteen state treasurers told Climate Envoy John Kerry to stop pressuring banks and financial institutions to drop the states because if they do then the states will drop them.  The states include Texas, Oklahoma, and coal-heavy West Virginia.

Don’t mess with Texas, assholes.

Reversing Course

Finally, a Woke Corporation looks at the nonsense it’s been doing, and cancels it.  Here’s an example:

3. No more committees. For nearly all of our 21 year existence, we were proudly committee-free. No big working groups making big decisions, or putting forward formalized, groupthink recommendations. No bureaucracy. But recently, a few sprung up. No longer. We’re turning things back over to the person (or people) who were distinctly hired to make those decisions.

“Management by Committee” is another of those Marxist-collectivist mantras which have two sources: from old Karl himself, as taught in schools;  and from women, for whom “participative management” (i.e. by committee) has long been touted as a Good Thing when, in fact, it’s nothing of the kind.  Camels emerging from committees (from a brief to create horses) is so old a joke that it’s actually become a truism.  Of course, it makes people feel better when they’ve had input (the disgusting modern term “stakeholders” should have a stake driven right through its fucking ethos);  but then again, “feeling better” seldom has any place in a corporate workplace except when Alka-Seltzer is freely dispensed from the vending machines.

So yes, Basecamp has done well by trimming back the weeds [sic], and best of all:

Who’s responsible for these changes?  David and I are.  Who made the changes?  David and I did. These are our calls, and the outcomes and impacts land at our doorstep.

That’s called leadership.  And it’s damn time some of it came back into corporate life, at the expense of Wokism and collectivism.

Just What We Needed

This is going to end well:

A UK technology company is inserting customised product placement into films and TV shows – even those that were originally released decades ago.
London-based firm Mirriad inserts products or signage, like a branded beer bottle on a table to a clothing advert on a giant billboard, into streaming content.

I know what you’re thinking.  But:

The company used its experience to make inserted ads look as realistic as possible – so viewers would never know they weren’t present in the original shoot.

Uh huh.  I can see it now:

Not to mention:

or:

And even in our favorite classics, like The Devil In Miss Jones :

Is nothing sacred anymore?