Summer reading part II
Last week, I mentioned a book with some disturbing but honest imagery. This week I’d like to highlight a more substantial summer read containing some disturbing but honest text. The book is titled Corporateering: How Corporate Power steals your personal freedom and what you can do about it, by Jamie Court ($24.95 Tarcher/Putnam), and it examines the harrowing ways that global corporations are redefining the basic rules of society, law and ethical custom to the detriment of traditional rights and freedom of the individual. And it’s downright scary, folks.

The executive director of the nonprofit Foundation of Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Court is a pioneer of the HMO patients'-rights movement who has led efforts to reform energy companies, property casualty insurers, the financial-services industry and other big-wig corporate beasts. Lauded by the likes of Ralph Nader and Michael Moore on the book’s jacket, Court has experience within “the system” that has given him an insider’s perspective on the current corporate religion the U.S is foisting upon the rest of the world—and the moral and ethical questions it raises.

When a person’s private medical and financial information is bought and sold by corporations without permission, are the corporation’s commercial priorities changing ethical custom? When a company makes a mistake, why is the burden on the individual to spend his or her time fixing it without being reimbursed for value of lost time? When corporate consolidation has left only a handful of corporations in each industry, do consumers really have meaningful choices? Has the individual’s increased reliance on the stock market for retirement caused a requisite cultural investment in corporate privilege? These are the kinds of questions addressed here.

When you consider that the average person experiences 16,000 corporate advertisements daily (including logos, labels and announcements), we need more people like Court putting things in clearer perspective. The first step is recognizing that seemingly innocuous inconveniences by corporations are more significant—or to quote an old phrase, “give them an inch and they take a mile” (for example, grocery store “club cards” collecting personal data). As Court writes, “Corporations test attitudes. … If individuals accept the attitude, then it becomes practice.” This book is about exposing the specific assumptions, strategies and logic behind the big corporations—and finding ways you can defend yourself from the invisible, steely corporate hand headed up your ass.

“They can’t take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That’s when we come in and talk to them.”

—Sgt. Mark Hadsell (Psy Ops) on the use of Metallica and Sesame Street music to break Iraqi prisoners (BBC news)

Weekly props
1. Congrats to the Kings for a fun season

2. Come back soon, Gill and David

3. Strawberry Music Festival

4. June Carter Cash R.I.P.