Friday, February 20, 2009

The Army Experience Center – "the future of recruiting"

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. -- Edward Bernays

The Army is getting smart these days. Today, the marketing tactics going into recruiting are becoming more and more sophisticated and enticing to our children. Instead of using moldy recruiting stations with dissatisfied, and increasingly suicidal recruiters, who are forced to con young people into signing up for the war of terror, the Army is coming into the modern age by using persuasively savvy marketing strategies straight from the advertising agencies of Madison Avenue.

Today, the marketing sages of Ignited Corporation have created the Army Experience Center -- a 14,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art, $12 million dollar "technology and education center" in a Philadelphia, PA Mall, and, according to the Army "is a model for changing the face of recruiting nationwide."

Ignited explains its mission:

"In a time of unpopular wars, negative press, and falling recruitment rates, the U.S. Army needed a results-oriented way to engage a new generation in a conversation. Now the AEC is where that conversation takes place. With the success of the pilot program look for more AEC in the country in the near future." -- Army Experience Center (AEC) Case Study

Looking at Ignited Corporation's case study video our children will get lured into the mall with the promise of unlimited free video games supplied by the Army and AEC's sponsor Halo, and the promise of a "hyper-realistic, sensory-filled experience on a life-like scale" ride in a Humvee or Blackwalk helicopter while battling the bad guys in "visual mission simulators."

And, while the potential recruits are coming off their adrenaline high of shooting up an Iraqi village, a friendly, shiny-faced soldier in khaki and a polo shirt can guide them over to the interactive, state-of-the-art Career Navigator kiosks so that they can learn all about the 170 fantastic Army career opportunities.

Even though the AEC has soldiers working in the center and career kiosks, strangely enough the Army and the marketing firm can't seem to get their stories straight as to whether or not the AEC is a recruiting station.

In a Army News article by Carrie McLeroy titled "Army Experience Center opens in Philadelphia" Ignited Corporation's Ryan Hansen calls the center "an attraction tool. There is no recruiting mission here. Here it is more about changing perceptions."

He says, "The Soldiers at the AEC don't have quotas. They don't wear traditional Army uniforms, but rather black Army polo shirts and khaki pants. They are from diverse backgrounds and have unique stories to tell. At first glance they seem more like tour guides than Army recruiters, and in a sense, they are. They guide center visitors through their tour of the facility." (And the visitors in Jurassic Park thought it was all going to be fun ride too.)

So, the creators of the AEC claim it is not a recruitment center, however, in their own video case study we hear, "Why do you picture one of their [Army] recruiting offices as an old oak desk with metal filing cabinets? That's exactly the question Ignited asked and answered as we set out to create the Army experience," and this video called Inside the Army Experience Center (youtube video) a soldier says the center is "the future of recruiting."

Why the deception guys? Just tell 'em like it is: the Army Experience Center is an "attraction tool" that is about "changing perceptions" in an "non-threatening" and "transparent" environment by "incorporating technology and those outreach tools" the will "dispel many of the myths that exist about the Army" by allowing visitors to hear soldiers tell their "great Army stories" and have a "better idea of the training and career opportunities afforded our soldiers, and the high-tech nature of our institution."

A recruitment center.

One thing the Army and Ignited forgot is that under the Federal Trade Commission Act advertising "must be truthful and non-deceptive." According to the Federal Trade Commission Act and the FTC's Unfairness Policy Statement, an ad or business practice is unfair if: "it causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury which a consumer could not reasonably avoid; and it is not outweighed by the benefit to consumers." The Army needs to reevaluate their advertising and business practices as they are obviously not in compliance. Perhaps if they displayed in these state-of-the-art kiosks pictures of men and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan without legs or faces, suffering from the effects of depleted uranium, or the high incidences of rape against female soldiers, there would be some truth in advertising. Until they do I think the Federal Trade Commission has a case to close them down.

* * *

Also read:
"Kids Learn that Killing is fun," by Penny Coleman (Penny quotes from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman who "cites hundreds of studies that reveal a direct correlation between exposure to media violence -- especially interactive video games -- and increased childhood aggression.")

"Wake Up Call: Activists Visit 'The Army Experience,'"
by Elaine Brower

Inside the Army Experience Center (youtube video)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How many "stimulus" bills does it take...

Q: How many "stimulus" bills does it take for a light bulb to go up over people heads to understand that they're being screwed?

Like the proverbial "lightbulb" jokes, the people that brought us market deregulation and globalization are now in the process of screwing us again with another economic stimulus bill.

Already Americans have seemed to have forgotten that Congress already passed two major stimulus bills last year. One $170 billion dollar Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 in February, which Bush called a "booster shot" for the American economy, and one just three months ago another called the Assets Relief Program (TARP), which was sold to Americans under threats of Armageddon (and martial law) to the tune of $800 billion. Americans were led to believe that both these bills were supposed to prop up our economy and get people to work. Instead they were used to pay off the the bad debts of irresponsible investors and the institutional banks who played fast and loose with money.

So, why do so many of my liberal friends feel that Obama's new "stimulus" plan is going to be any different? I remind them that Obama's financial advisors are the very people who were the principle cheerleaders for the same deregulation and privatization schemes espoused by the Chicago boys, and, like Henry Paulson, will be the beneficiaries of the public largesse should this new "stimulus" packages get passed.

Here Naomi Klein on Democracy Now explains Obama's economic team's market philosophy:

"... Larry Summers was the last Treasury Secretary under Clinton. And he, along with Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, were really the key architects of the policies of deregulation that created the crisis that we are living now. And those key policies, as you know, are the killing of Glass-Steagall that allowed a series of very large bank mergers that created these institutions that are too big and too intermingled to fail, we’re told again and again; the deliberate decision to keep the derivatives out of the reach of financial regulators—that was also a Summers decision; and also allowing the banks to carry these extraordinary levels of debt, thirty-three-to-one in the case of Bear Stearns.

Now, you know, in my book, I—in The Shock Doctrine, I start a chapter with a quote from Larry Summers. The context in which he said this, it was 1992, and it was when he was making World Bank economic policy as it related to Russia in the midst of a financial crisis. What he said, and this is why I quoted him, because it really shows the extent to which he is truly an ideologue, truly a follower of the very ideology—not just a follower, but a propagator of the very ideology that Obama ran his campaign against." (See Naomi Klein, Robert Kuttner and Michael Hudson Dissect Obama’s New Economic Team & Stimulus Plan.)

So, with Obama less than a month in office and his free market/privatization ideologues advising him, the U.S. taxpayer is once again being hit up for another massive "stimulus" package that is being sold, once again with blatant threats: Obama has warned us of a "national catastrophe" if congress doesn't pass this bill.

But, is there really a "national catastrophe" headed our way? if you listen to Dr. Michael Hudson, President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, this is all hype:

"...panic the people. Make them think there is an emergency. There is no emergency at all... It's just in the last five years that the richest 1 percent of the American population have increased their weatlth from 37 percent to 57 percent. They don't want it to go back to normal. They like to keep on increasing it... This is a once in a century rip-off." You can only do this kind of this kind of thing under emergency conditions, usually with the kind of bloodshed that you saw when Pinochet introduced free markets at gunpoint in Chile." (See this video below)

So, according to Hudson, there is no real emergency in the financial sector to justify these bailouts, but there are "emergency conditions" in this country that are being used to precipitate the pillaging -- ones that can lead to martial law.

If you think Hudson is prone to hyperbole, it would wise to take stock of all the drills that are happening around this country to prepare for such civil unrest. Just recently it was reported that four San Francisco Bay Area Coast Guard helicopters will be carrying M240 machine guns. (See Coast Guard adds machine guns to helicopters, SF Examiner, 2/3/09), and, late last year, Operation Urban Shield, was touted as "largest Homeland Security drill in the country." (See Urban Shield 2008: Plan, prepare, and train).

It was also announced last year that the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade "Combat" Team will have a new mandate: homeland patrols to help with "civil unrest" and "crowd control." (See U.S. Troops In Homeland “Crowd Control” Patrols From October 1st).

Maybe the elite know exactly what is going to happen after they loot the country and jump ship to fill those vacate Dubai apartments. Their house of cards is tumbling and if they can get "theirs" and get out of the country before martial law is declared, who cares? Leave it to the military guys to sort out the disaster in their wake.