So, after reading in the headlines that Amazon will make humans even more redundant than they are already by using drones to deliver packages, I felt compelled to play catch-up and watched the replay of Charlie Rose
Suffice it to say that Rose gushing, in his intro, that he'd been "granted unprecedented access" to the inner workings of Amazon gives us our first clue that this is not going to be the hard-hitting anti-capitalist exposé that 60 Minutes used to be so famous for. They've been blurring the line between shilling for the military-industrial complex and journalism for quite some time now. And this segment did not disappoint. Enter the drones publicity stunt, just in time for Cyber Monday. From the transcript:
But during our visit to Amazon’s campus in Seattle, Bezos kept telling us that he did have a big surprise, something he wanted to unveil for the first time…
Jeff Bezos: Let me show you something.
Charlie Rose: Oh, man…Oh, my God!
Jeff Bezos: This…
Charlie Rose: This is?
Jeff Bezos:…is…these are octocopters.
Charlie Rose: Yeah?
Jeff Bezos: These are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles. Take a look up here so I can show you how it works.
Charlie Rose: All right. We’re talking about delivery here?
Jeff Bezos: We’re talking about delivery. There’s an item going into the vehicle. I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not.
Charlie Rose: Wow!
To give Charlie credit, he does elicit the fact that besides plans to fill the skies with delivery drones in the not so distant future, Bezos is right this minute building a "private cloud" for the CIA -- because for some reason it doesn't want to be on the public cloud. But Rose doesn't even say "Wow!" or ask a follow-up question. Wow.
Needless to say, the delivery drones are getting an outsized share of media attention and are fodder for comedians. I had already been feeling faintly nauseous from the other news of the week: the horrific train derailment, the obsession with the Obamacare website and the media's head-rolling guessing game, the bankruptcy of Detroit seemingly giving new impetus to the nation-wide gutting of public pensions and the safety net. So, when Maureen Dowd posted a very witty column on "Mommy, the Drone's Here," I kinda snapped. My response:
How can you tell that fascism has finally come to America?
When the ruling elites refer to us as consumers instead of citizens. When health insurance reform is couched in terms not of wellness but of neoliberal aggression.
We get War Room briefings on the status of the ACA tech surge. They're "ruthlessly prioritizing at private sector speed and velocity and efficiency."
They're talking about our health as if we are mindless drones ourselves, seeking out the best deals for the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that have become products to be bought instead of basic human rights.
And don't get me started on "60 Minutes." One week they spread the lie that people on disability are cheats, another week they showcase "philanthropic" billionaires who want to privatize our schools, cut our safety net, and repatriate their own offshore stashes of cash at no cost to themselves. And just in time for CyberMonday, free advertising for another billionaire retail/media hybrid. We pay for the privilege of hearing the rent-seekers yammer, while our own voices are drowned out.
People were killed and maimed because the government couldn't be bothered to install a safety device on their train. Next month, more than a million people will be kicked off federal unemployment insurance. Detroit went bankrupt, and Illinois cut public pensions on the same day.
And the news regales us with Amazon drones, and a website, and Black Friday sales riots. It's more Orwellian than Orwell.