Sucking up to Big Business doesn’t make you morally superior, OR smart.

Due in no small part to ethecofem’s very own (albeit currently MIA, although I’m working on that) kissiegrrrl, I’ve been made aware of the fabulous resource that is The Story of Stuff, and their YouTube educational series about what we consume, where it comes from, where it goes, and what it all means in the context of humanity and our continued existence. Another YouTube user, who so arrogantly names himself HowTheWorldWorks, put up a series of critiques of the HowStuffWorks content. Being the lover of critical thinking that I am, and appreciating intelligently-articulated views that may oppose my own, I enthusiastically watched the video in it’s entirety, twice. Unfortunately, I learned nothing, other than the ways in which HowTheWorldWorks is just… wrong.

1. Why shouldn’t 9-year-olds think that Legos (made from plastic, which is made from oil) are destroying the earth? Legos (which are plastic, and made from oil, an unsustainable natural resource), as well as other unrecycled plastic products, ARE destroying the earth. And where’s your citation?

2. It’s pretty awesome that microchips are getting smaller and smaller. It’s pretty great that we can store more and more information on smaller and smaller devices. This, however, doesn’t matter at all, considering the fact that the planet, and the people on it, aren’t, you know, microchips.

3. The earth is compacted with tons of resources that we don’t know how to use yet? Oh? Sure, this may be very true, and I am willing to believe your statement. But this still doesn’t actually matter. Because the earth does not have endless resources. So we can run out of oil, some scientists can figure out how to use other resources to sustain our lifestyles, and then we panic about what will happen when THOSE resources near their end. What happens when we are out of THOSE resources? Or are you just crossing your fingers and hoping we end up like the folks in Firefly, and find a bunch of other “earths” to terraform? Good luck. Better get on that.

4. The economic theories on which you are basing your arguments about scarcity of resources, demand for the resources, and hoped-for resolution of buying less of those products coming from the scarce resources leading to the, again, hoped-for innovation in the hoped-for usage of new resources to continue to sustain our current Western lifestyle is STILL unsustainable. Still. Go back to your Econ 101 class and keep praying.

5. Ignoring the fact that you are practically worshipping James Madison as though he were a god amongst men (I just barfed a little in my mouth when I used “men” as a substitute for “people,” but I thought that would be a language you could read) and treating the Constitution in the same way that fundamentalist Christians treat the Bible, let’s talk about this whole “promoting general welfare” thing. I know the word “welfare” probably scares you and makes you think of black people scamming crackers or something, but in what way do you believe that ensuring that corporate powers and big business interests don’t harm our health and general well-being for their own monetary profit is somehow NOT promoting the general welfare of the people of the United States? Or were you under the impression that corporate interests and their monetary profits are more worthy of protection than the health and general well-being than individual citizens of the planet? I certainly don’t trust corporations to care about my welfare. I mean, I know corporations are considered people under US law, but I really didn’t know people took that literally. Congratulations, you’ve made me more cynical than I was before. That’s an accomplishment.

5.2. And for fuck’s sake, my dad’s name is Russell, not James. Stop referring to him as my father, or the father of the Constitution. Did his sperm really join an egg (and if so, whose egg? I never hear about the Constitution’s mom– or was this a reverse-immaculate-conception thing?) that contributed to the actual birth of a large piece of paper with some ink on it?

6. Did you really say that corporations are providing the things we need to survive? I mean, sure, some corporations are doing that, for their own monetary profit, but I’m also pretty sure that, for thousands of years, we got by without corporations taking control of our “necessities.” But really? I need Apple products to SURVIVE? I can’t live without my Converse sneakers? I will die without my Sony television? The checking accounts I own at a national bank are absolutely necessary to my survival? Is your dad Rupert Murdoch? Oh, sorry, I forgot; you pledge your allegiance to James Madison. My bad.

7. Try as I might, I can’t seem to find the part where you explain how wind and solar energy are “nonsense.” Care to elaborate on your claim that they are nonsense? Because I just can’t for the life of me figure out how in the world these innovations– undeniably sustainable innovations– could be the slightest bit problematic. I must have just missed it, though. I mean, you so ardently criticize the narrator here for her apparent omission of truth and unsubstantiated claims and statistics, that I just can’t imagine that you would fail to back up your own claims properly. Please, oh wise one, tell me just exactly how solar and windpower are nonsense.

8. I get the impression that you’re critical of her claim that we’re trashing the planet. Did you think that landfills are not comprised of trash? Which dictionary do you use? I guess I have the wrong one. Maybe that floating garbage island in the Pacific is really… art? Unclaimed landmass, waiting for new inhabitants? What?

9. Mining has been going on since the Roman empire. That makes it sustainable and not the slightest bit problematic. Persecution of homosexuals has also been going on since the Roman empire. I guess I should rethink the whole gay rights thing, too. That must be okay, since it’s been going on for a long time. Same with the whole persecution of Christians and burning of witches. Got it.

10. Factory farming of animals for the US’s ever-increasing meat consumption is contributing to greenhouse gasses. Oh, right, the air we breathe and our climate will stop being toxified once we… stop… buying… toxification? Because of the whole economic theory you cite. Right. When will that happen, again? I see a lot of big, important, self-described “conservative” white guys hollering about why we shouldn’t stop, because it might decrease the numbers in the poor little CEOs bank accounts, the practice of which seems like it may possibly be hurting the people’s continuous efforts to start using other, more sustainable methods of living (as you suggest we’ll somehow seamlessly and automatically succeed at accomplishing), but maybe that’s a part of your precious little theory that you thought you didn’t need to share with us. How does corporate greed factor in? I’m sure you have the answer; maybe you just forgot to put it in your enlightening little video response?

11. Please take a geology class.

12. Our current generation’s life expectancy has nothing to do with the planets inability to sustain human life and exponential population growth as it is in our current reality. The increase in life expectancy for western civilizations (so long as you’re wealthy, white, and have access to healthy food and affordable health care), relative to what it was a hundred or more years ago, is due to advances in medical science, which is due, in large part, to antibiotics and other medications, the rampant usage of which has been directly linked to decreasing the quality of our water supply via endocrine disruptors and neurological and respiratory toxins, which cause innumerable health problems such as obesity and hormonal imbalances, which contribute to infertility in both males and females, and painful, debilitating conditions such as endometriosis, among scores of other things. All of which are predicted to ensure that our children will have a lower life expectancy than that which we currently enjoy.

12. Your critique of her ability to read her own data still doesn’t mean that your analysis of her data means anything worth saying out loud, because it’s all bullshit which relies on maintaining and defending the support of corporate greed and control.

13. “…[T]hat would be the equivalent of saying that every time we harvest corn, that farmland is gone forever.” Oh. So since soil loses fertility over time, which takes a thousand years to regenerate organically, were you trying to tell us to wait a thousand years to keep feeding humanity, or were you advocating shortening our lifespans by continuing to introduce foreign, cancer-causing, endocrine-disrupting chemicals into our food and water supplies? A minute ago you used the whole longer-life-expectancy thing to prove some other nonsense point…

14. The fact that some water was undrinkable 200 years ago still fails to take into account the fact that less water is drinkable than what was drinkable 200 years ago. And that the reason that less water is drinkable today than it was 200 years ago is directly due to endocrine disruptors and other pollutants caused by the manufacturing of the mass consumption of, that’s right, STUFF.

15. Using a horn sound effect and a bold, red font for the word “Marxism” doesn’t disprove any particular point she has, nor does it help your argument any. Indoctrination, much? Socializzzmomgzz is scarrrrrryyyy!!! Take a gorram history class.

16. You attempted to counter the fact that the US uses more resources than anyone on the planet by commenting on how the US uses those resources. Fail. Respond to the statement in question, or shut the hell up. Welcome to the world of hypocrisy and political spin. I nominate you for mayor of said world.

17. You keep failing to explain how your critique of the exponential growth function fails to account for the fact that, regardless of the resources available on the planet, they’re still finite, and therefore unsustainable. No matter how many uses for new resources we can find– if we’re able to combat the rampant corporate greed that is currently stifling all efforts to create sustainable energy sources and ways of living, as you keep saying will “just happen,” even though you simultaneously claim that we don’t have to do anything about it– the earth’s resources are still finite, and therefore unsustainable!

18. Why do you keep acting as though resources becoming scarce is no big deal? What part of “finite” do you not understand?

19. I think you heard the word “strawman” somewhere, and, as a result of not having a valid counterpoint, you just thought you’d throw it out there for Glenn Beck & Co’s approval. Because the labor that they “trade” us for their resources is… um, mean. Are you really arguing that paying pennies a day to people working in inhumane, unhealthy, and arguably immoral conditions is in some way desirable? Maybe we aren’t talking about the same earth. Perhaps you live on a different planet, one that doesn’t value human life, so long as the humans in question aren’t in your immediate circle of wealthy, American white dudes. How would you like to earn a few dollars a month for all that labor that allows others to apparently guiltlessly consume iPods, clothing, and other consumer goods that you manufacture, but can’t even realistically expect to afford to purchase in your lifetime? Good thing for you that you happened to be born and raised in the United States, or another Western or “first world” nation. Or were you under the impression that people in third world countries like their conditions, and if they didn’t, there’s a free plane ride to a new life in the ever-welcoming US? Hahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Aww. You’re cute.

20. “What is an ‘original forest’? Are we starting in Pangaea?” Okay. That was funny. But only when taken entirely out of context.

21. You said that the reason why trees in the Amazon aren’t being replanted isn’t surprising is because no one owns the Amazon. So– god, I’m almost spitting up my beer, this is too funny– if no one owns it, how is it that anyone gets the rights to use the Amazon’s resources? You seem to believe that, if no one owns nature, we (who, exactly?) can destroy it at will, but that we need someone to “own” it in order to keep it alive and sustain it. As if this lack of private ownership of nature is a problem. Is this a real belief, the one where you think that private ownership of pieces of our planet is actually beneficial to humanity’s existence? Hahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Hahahahaha.

22. What in the bloody hell do you consider “significantly improved”? Relative to what? Jesus H. Hell on a bloody popsicle stick, what do you mean?!

Apparently, the turdburgler has several more “parts” to his “critique.” I may tackle those later, when I have the time and patience to watch them. Stay tuned.

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6 Responses to Sucking up to Big Business doesn’t make you morally superior, OR smart.

  1. kissiegrrrl says:

    oh my goodness did i love the SHIT out of that! i don’t have the interwebs to see what yr countering, but it doesnt matter this second. u nailed so many points i took notes…POISON IS BAD! THIS SHOULD BE A SIMPLE, AGREEABLE ISSUE! STOP POISONING US AND OUR KIDS NOW!!!!

    • April says:

      I just finished watching parts 2, 3, and 4. I’ve filled up two pages in a notebook of notes debunking his BS, and I’ve only made it through 5 minutes of part 2 in the note-taking. This should be fun.

      Glad you liked it. Now get thee back to teh interwebz and resume blogging! 🙂

  2. DrMcCoy says:

    While HowTheWorldWorks is an ignoramus (he’s pretty well-known as a dunce, if you follow the atheists vs. theists debates on YouTube), there is valid criticism of The Story of Stuff:

    The part about computers is quite naive
    1) PCs are generally pretty modular, you can change everything, from the mainboard, to the CPU, to the graphics card and so on
    2) Not just the “small part” (I guess she means the CPU) changes. Nowadays, at least in gamer cycles, the graphics card is actually the most replaced component
    3) You can change the CPU. Sure, there’s limitations, like different sockets, which are partly due to competition (Intel vs. AMD) and partly due to new technology requirying different approaches.
    4) If all you need is a work computer for emails and word processesing, there’s no need to constantly upgrade your computer. If you want to play the newest games however, you will need to invest in new components (and not a complete new computer), since the games industry is currently sadly more interested in dazzling new graphics instead of engaging stories.

    Generally, I for one find The Story of Stuff far too simplistic. I like the underlying message, but it’s all unfortunately not as easy and clear-cut as she paints it.

    Just my 2¢

    • April says:

      Agreed about how it is too simplistic. I understand it’s produced for elementary school-age kids, but there are a lot of missing pieces. It’s what made me interested in watching the critique in the first place; it seemed too vague in some areas not to question.

      I’m not familiar with Dude’s other YouTube stuff, but I can see why he’s got that reputation now.

  3. Jim says:

    “So– god, I’m almost spitting up my beer, this is too funny– if no one owns it, how is it that anyone gets the rights to use the Amazon’s resources?”

    April, the right to destroy nature doesn’tome into it. That’s the point. The world doesn’t operate on the basis of rights. Rights are a social construct. That’s one reason I am so ready to use violence to maintain them, because they are fragile and don’t survive a well in the wild.

    “You seem to believe that, if no one owns nature, we (who, exactly?) can destroy it at will, but that we need someone to “own” it in order to keep it alive and sustain it. As if this lack of private ownership of nature is a problem. ”

    It’s called the “Tragedy of the Commons. Re-forestation only got started in northern China, despite decades of the government trying, when people started owning small plots of land and growing trees on them. They give saplings as baby gifts and so on. It’s not making much headway, but that’s for a whole series of other reasons – corrupt local officials helping venal businessman “destroy nature” being chief among them.

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