Friday, 13 July 2012

Who’s pulling our strings?

Time was when conspiracy theorists were made fun of by the bulk of the population, and to a certain extent that is still the case. However the joke is starting to backfire upon the mockers as it becomes increasingly obvious there very definitely are conspiracies and the theorists are quite often bang on the money.

I’m not talking here about moon landings, 911, Kennedy assassinations or reptilian shapeshifters, interesting though they might be; I am talking about ‘everyday conspiracies’ if you like. These are the ones organised by Governments, powerful cartels in strategic industries and businesses where competition is less robust or the major players fancy themselves as being more entitled than others.  

A great example of this is the sort of nonsense that goes on around sponsorship deals; especially those associated with a major international event.

Last year we saw an example of this with Addled Ass and the ridiculously overpriced souvenir All Black jerseys. This was a conspiracy in that Addled Ass was able to do this with the compliance of:

·         The IRB, who could have made some rules around the sales of merchandise

·         The NZRU, who could have made some rules around what their branded product would sell for

·         The New Zealand apparel retailers who went along with it and sold the items at the overinflated retail price instead of telling Addled Ass to shove them.

This year I learn Workers at the Olympic Games Village in London have been told they must not eat any chips other than McDonalds’ in their onsite canteen. That directive would be enough to make a bloke give up chips for life. Anyone who has tasted those limp, skinny, greasy bits of goop that McDeaths call chips knows they might be a lot of things, but like most of the toxic waste served under the golden arches their only claim to being food is that some silly buggers actually put them in their mouth.

The games bosses have relaxed the rules for the workers after a shit-storm of protest, but for those who can be bothered attending the games it will be nothing but McDeaths. To my way of thinking that is just making what would already be a dire experience a deadly one.

This might not seem like a conspiracy, but actually it is. After all to be a conspiracy, it only needs to be a plan agreed to by two or more parties and designed to commit a crime or a harmful act. The parties here are of course the International Olympic Committee and the Purveyors of Poison. And while it is not a crime to leave people with only a choice of McDeaths or McDeaths, (more’s the pity), it is definitely an act that is designed intentionally or otherwise to bring harm to a group of people. And you have to wonder why an event that purports to showcase fit and healthy people would want after finally encouraging people to leave their couches and attend the games to have them trough out on a load of unhealthy rubbish.

A couple of years ago we had a similarly stupid situation where Bug Wiser was the official beer sponsor for the Soccer World Cup and a bunch of people in orange T-shirts were evicted from the games and accused of ambush marketing. Of course that is exactly what they were trying to do, but the action by Cup officials to eject them was excessive. While it is true the orange was the colour of the Dutch brewery they were representing; it was also the colour of the Dutch soccer team. I’m only surprised the officials didn’t make them change their shirts before taking the field. Once again a conspiracy had been hatched between FIFA and Bud to deny the attendees any choice.

These are just three examples of corporate conspiracies, and while they are annoying, we can refuse to go along with them by boycotting events that allow the sponsors to hold such sway. It is much harder, though to counter the activities of companies with whom we have no option but to deal.

Telecommunication companies are a good example of this and they seem to be getting even more powerful.

As we all know the Telcos act pretty much as a cartel and they are forever lavishing money on lush adverts and PR to tell us how they are going to cover the whole country in Megultraincrediblyfast broadband which is crucial to all of us (so they say). In reality most of this warp speed stuff is of no particular advantage to us regular punters unlike reliable cellphone coverage or in many rural cases even a moderately fast broadband connection.

But no, we can’t have that because this fasterthanthespeedoflight shit is the bomb. Of course the reason is that this stuff is what is wanted/needed by large institutions that pay large sums of money for their set-up and Hooray Henrys who have more money than sense and like to show off they have the biggest and fastest broadband connection in their social circle. The rest of us would be thrilled to be able to use our cellphone from home or watch movies without experiencing a frozen screen at any stage.

 You know it’s a conspiracy when Vodafone made $151.2M net profit for the year ended March 2011 and recently spent $840M buying TelstraDim, while Telecom had net earnings of $878M for the 6 months ended December 2011 yet rural customers are still having to wait years for broadband and many city customers can’t get cellphone coverage. These guys certainly don’t lack the money to sort this inequity out; but they do lack the collective will.

The law and order situation in New Zealand is another example of a conspiracy. In this case the co-conspirators are the Government, the judges and to a lesser extent the police. The way it works is that the Government has been encouraging the police to work as a business according to departing Northland area commander Paul Dimery (an unfortunate name for a police officer).

Paul’s claims start to make sense when one looks at the sorts of targeted campaigns police have run lately. Most have focussed on matters that result in fines and many have already accused them of revenue gathering over their obsession with anyone who exceeds the speed limit by more than 4km/h. It has also been noticed that judges are for the most part handing out fines (along with disqualifications) for drunk driving. Surely if we want to stop drunk driving we should be handing out quite uncomfortable penalties rather than fines which are seldom paid and disqualifications which are often completely ignored by the offender? And surely if we want safer roads we might be more concerned about people who can’t keep on their own side of the road, failing to give way at roundabouts and intersections or who are driving erratically?

On the other hand if your plan is to ignore the safety aspects and simply collect revenue then I guess you would do exactly what they are doing now.

Makes you think, though, doesn’t it?

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