A book with information and logic that people in the American public should be aware of.
Talks about how technology has made our lives extremely convenient, ultimately at the cost of physical environmental and social wear and tear.
Would bargain hunters put down the money needed to make better schools, more literate children and adult, and better trained workers if a Madison avenue advertising firm offered them a cash rebate of $120 billion a year? In a sense, this deal is available, because it is the amount spent by American consumers on crime for the alarm systems in our homes and the “clubs” on our cars and the costs of prisons (141)?
This idea makes sense from a very wide sociological and ecological viewpoint.
But for a wee-lil individual in the system, an increasingly bigger system in the form of the public school, the police department, the city, they’re dealing with increased complexity, and uncertainty, the most we can expect them to do is to avoid that entanglement and look out for what they have.
However, this kind of ecological connection of bad schools to illiteracy to desperation or good schools to literacy to success isn’t a connection made and/or prioritized very much whether in popular media or schools.
By the curious standard of the GDP, the nation’s economic hero is a terminal cancer patient who is going through a costly divorce. The happiest event is an earthquake or a hurricane. The most desirable habitat is a multibillion-dollar Superfund site. All these add to the GDP, because they cause money to change hands. (156) Clifford Cobb, Ted Halstead, and Jonathan Rowe, “If the Economy is Up, Why is America Down?” Atlantic Monthly, October 1995.
Our departure from the natural environment makes it more acceptable for us to pollute it (84)
The reduction of ties to the places where we grew up, substituted for by new connections made over the television or to products from other places, makes our world more anonymous (87).
Because of its two extremes of lack of housing and abundant housing, America also has the dubious role of leading the world in abundance of privacy juxtaposed with unmet needs for the most basic facilities (114).
American teenagers are typically exposed to 360,000 advertisements by the time they graduate from high school (128).
Juxtapose that with our knowledge and thirst for popular culture. I once worked at a dead-end temp job (which I escaped from growing raccoon ears, flying, and finding the magic whistle, which is another story), and the girls there wouldn’t stop checking Perez Hilton and his rumors and coverage of celebrities in real life.
It’s sad how we’ve commited to memory punchlines about these various groups of people trying to sell us shit and stories about people we might never meet.
When we focus on money, we are reinforcing our goal of making more money, rather than offering new goals or possibilities. If we focused instead of laughter, then maybe we would try to make children laugh a little more often and make fewer trips to the office to earn more money. If we focuse on honesty, through measures of it that appeared in the newspaper every day and were mentioned on the radio, then we would probably watch ourselves more carefully to see whether we tell the truth. Not only would a little bit of our focus shift from money to honesty, but some professions might do business a little bit differently (154)
I’ve thought this thought before.
My critical assessment is that a commitment to these abstract values like “honesty” or “integrity” are really too new and made-up, it’s crazy to even expect that in this kind of world we’d been brought onto. “New” in the sense that it’s probably new to expect people en masse in a global community to actually tend to these abstract values. ” Made-up” in the sense that these are abstractions, values that people are likely to change given different contexts.
However, I think if we primed more people, that is worked on the American conscious and subconscious, like actually have these kind of values pervade the popular culture instead of putting out there lying and bitchiness and celebrity and flash, then we’d be on to something.