The ability of the government and well funded, powerful corporations to manipulate your thinking goes far beyond what most
people imagine. They have honed and perfected the skills and techniques and have the tools and means to play us all like puppets to achieve precisely the goals they desire. The fact that you are not outraged and they are still doing it is an indicator of how successful they have been. Let’s look at a few of the most spectacular successes in taking your money or lives without even a whimper of protest.
For nearly 50 years, the cigarette companies were successful in hiding the deadly health facts about their product behind a curtain of misinformation, deceit and
outright lies. The results of that campaign were and still are so successful that despite the proven risks, well over two billion people in the world today smoke, on average, a pack a day. And this is considerably less than in the height of their sales. The ads, claims, endorsements and faked scientific data were highly effective, even as millions of people were dying from complications from smoking.
We are experiencing several similar campaigns of propaganda and lies about products and events happening right now. The oil and gas industry steadfastly claims that fracking does not harm the water supply despite numerous reports to the contrary. As was done by the tobacco companies, the gas companies are trotting out fake science and false claims about their safe operations while also threatening lawsuits and refusing to disclose the chemicals they use. Their money has bought nearly total compliance and cooperation from our Congress to pass legislation exempting them from nearly all the environmental and safety laws that would interfere with their profits. As with the tobacco disaster, we will have to kill a lot of people, destroy millions of acres of land and contaminate otherwise fresh, clean underground water systems before we realize we have, yet again, been duped and manipulated by false claims, lies and faked science.
A related product is being sold to us under the pretense that it is good for us. It is costing us about $1.22/gal; on average, but the company that is selling it to us buys it for .004 cents per gallon or less. I’m talking about bottled water. We bought 9.7 billion gallons of bottled water in 2012 (about 30 gallons for every person in the US). On average, nationwide, bottled water sells from 300 times what tap water sells for, but more than 78 percent of bottled water IS tap water. Profits on some brands go as high as 10,000 times costs. Certainly the convenience is worth something, but if we used refillable water bottles with replaceable filters we would save 50 million barrels of crude oil per year. The water bottling companies grossed over $11.8 billion in 2012 and that buys a lot of influence in Washington. These companies are not required to meet the same safety standards as your tap water does despite studies that show that 22 percent of the products sold would fail such tests. These companies have sold us on the idea that their product is better and safer than tap water and their efforts have been highly successful.
Despite the successes of the tobacco, gas and bottled water companies, they can’t hold a candle to the real champions of propaganda, lies and misinformation — our government. Remember “the weapons of mass destruction” that Iraq supposedly had? They never existed. It was all faked to justify a war. We invaded two sovereign nations, we destroyed the entire infrastructure of both countries and killed hundreds of thousands of their people in the longest war in our nation’s history — all based on lies from our government. What is a stunning puzzle to me is that despite knowing all that, we actually re-elected the same people again. And then to show us that they still controlled us like puppets, these same people destroyed our economy and that of the entire world by telling us that ending government regulation of the banking industry is good for us. When they said, “It will be good for us,” what we did not know was the “us” they were referring to was not the American people but rather the 1 percent that did, in fact, become enormously richer as a result of that deregulation. Despite knowing that they were selling trillions of dollars in worthless investments and destroying the savings and home ownership of millions of people, all over the globe, not one person has been charged with even the smallest crime. The propaganda machine and government lobbyists have been running in high gear ever since to make sure you never see it that way. And it’s working.
There are dozens of other major frauds, lies, and propaganda campaigns that are underway right now but there is one that is on a scale that boggles the mind. It is a campaign that is being orchestrated by the richest billionaires, corporations and industries in the U.S. and it targets the absolute destruction of anything that will impact their global profits by making them clean up the global contamination that they are creating. They are using the same tactics that the tobacco companies used successfully to cast doubt on any scientific proof that might identify the degree of damage they are doing. They have literally bought the complete support of Congress to pass legislation that favors them and allows them to maintain the ongoing damage they are doing. The manipulation and misdirection of the American people is so successful that despite vivid, irrefutable, visible evidence of massive negative impacts on a global scale, we are being told that this is inevitable and out of anyone’s control. Unlike those other frauds, this one is really going to kill a lot of people — tens of millions — but it will take decades before that happens, so, for now, these powerful interests will continue to profit at our expense and without any of us realizing the truth. I call that a powerfully successful propaganda campaign. They even renamed it so it didn’t sound so bad. It started out being called global warming but now they want you to think of it as climate change.
Tom Watkins lives in Montpelier. He can be reached at KeepitReal@21vt.us.MORE IN Commentary
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