Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Books From The Underground
The best non-fiction books are almost never the best selling books, primarily because they never get any promotion from the mainstream media. Perhaps the biggest exception is Howard Zinn's "A People's History Of The United States" which made it onto the best seller list several times staying there for extended periods, including shortly after his death.
It's not hard to figure out why this is happening, once your familiar with alternative media or many of the good books that traditional media refuses to promote. A fraction of one percent controls well over ninety percent of the media and the same fraction of one percent decides which political candidates we get to hear from. The media is a for profit organization, whose primary objective is to make as much money as they can, which they do very well, regardless of how well they inform the public.
Many of these books that the mainstream media never covers expose a large portion of the fraud the wealthiest people commit against the vast majority of the public, which is presumably why they refuse to provide fair coverage for them. This isn't something new, the ruling elite have controlled the vast majority of information that the public uses to make their decisions for hundreds of years; however, since the development of modern technology and creation of a centralized commercial media, the methods they've used to control education have changed significantly.
When it comes to control of the media, which along with control of education systems, is among the most important methods used to rig the political and economic systems, Robert McChesney reported on the history of how corporations consolidated control in "Rich Media Poor Democracy" and "The Problem Of The Media." He researches it dating back at least to the development of radio, and how there were some efforts by educators to control the radio system to better inform the public. However, for the most part it was turned over to commercial broadcasting that gave the vast majority of radio programs over to for profit organisation, and this carried over in to television.
For a while they had what they called a "wall of separation" between advertising and news or editorial content; or at least they pretended to; however, it was never fully implemented in practice and if they did a good job pretending otherwise, those days are over. Part of the problem is the way we finance media, through advertising. It's entirely a for profit institution and when their advertisers are involved in epidemic levels of fraud as they often are the media has a financial incentive not to report on it, especially with the vast majority of the media controlled by six corporations, and the majority of remaining media outlets are all controlled by multimillionaires of billionaires.
Without that separation between advertising and media content the truth is treated like a commodity that can be sold to the highest bidder, although they study to see what most people are willing to believe so they don't push it quite too far and they can usually fool the majority of the public on most issues. One of the leading solutions Robert McChesney and John Nichols often recommend in books they co-author together is that we finance a much more diverse media through tax payer subsidies chosen by tax payers when they fill out their income taxes. This is presented as an opening bid which I went into in Copyright & "Intellectual Property" Are endangering Lives & Democracy! where I extended this idea to include paying for intellectual property so it can be put into the public domain.
If we can afford to spend billions of dollars on war because of weapons of mass destruction that don't exist, or many other lies leading us into other wars, we can afford to fund research to reduce violence and enter it into the public domain, or reform the copyright laws, possibly buying some of the most credible copyrights so that they can be shared for free! If there's a chance that it can reduce violence, which anyone familiar with the research might not doubt, then it would be far less expensive than dealing with it after the fact.
The mainstream media routinely refuses to provide much if any promotional coverage of the best research on any given subject, unless they can make a profit off it, and it doesn't expose their fraud. Copyright is one of the ways they slow down education of material they don't like, even about preventing violence. In the article, 'Copyright & "Intellectual Property" Are endangering Lives & Democracy!' I mention how Murray Straus, who wrote about how early child abuse and corporal punishment leads to escalating violence later in life he had to sue the media companies to get his own copyrights back after they failed to provide adequate promotional material for it as is usually done. Even if they did what was usual, it wouldn't have been nearly as much as the obsession promotion they provide for many media pundits or politicians like Sarah Palin, who's book became a best seller as a result of obsession coverage by the media, and deep discounts, even though I find it extremely hard to believe that she had anything worthwhile to say, while many of the best researchers on any given subject can't get nearly as much coverage.
We have research that can drastically reduce violence available; however, since there's no profit in it, it gets little or no media coverage and is only read by a small fraction of the public, passing up opportunities to save thousands of lives lost to violence every year!
Promotional coverage for books that expose epidemic levels of fraud by corporations is even worse, at least in the traditional media, including books about how advertising is being used to indoctrinate children into becoming obsessiveness shoppers for useless crap from the time they begin watching TV, if not earlier. Juliet Schor, author of "Born To Buy," Susan Linn author of "Consuming Kids," Murray Fox author of "Harvesting Minds" have all reported on the fact that corporations are indoctrinating children from an early age and they even solicit help from parents without full disclosure about the purposes of their research, with a lot of it considered proprietary, which means instead of demanding disclosure so the public knows how advertiser are manipulating children before thy develop critical thinking skill, they pass laws protecting secrecy so that it's illegal for insiders to disclose unethical behavior that might be harming children.
Fortunately they haven't been able to keep it completely secret, with Schor, Linn and Fox writing about it; however, since it takes a while to explain it to the majority of the public and the media provides obsessive distractions pushing celebrity and sports worship, few people are aware of this research, outside of the academic world and a small percentage of people involved in activist organizations to protect children. One of the things they write about is how advertising and making schools dependent on it is interfering with the education of children and even the curricular which provides favorable coverage to corporations, including coal companies as Susan Linn reports in Consuming Kids where she writes "Have you visited your child’s school lately? Perhaps she’s learning about energy production and consumption through the lens of companies like Exxon Mobil or professional associations like the American Coal Foundation ('Unlocking Coal’s Potential through Education'). Her inspiration for reading may be coming from Pizza Hut-complete with coupons to be redeemed at your local franchise. She may be attending mandatory assemblies where she can learn about job interviewing from McDonald's. If she lives in Washington, D.C., and wants to go into the hotel business, she might be attending the Marriot Hospitality Charter School. If she’s a kid in trouble, she could attend a Burger King Academy."
Additional research into how corporations are trying to take control of the education system is also reported in books that the mass media never reports, including how Charter Schools are being controlled by billionaires, and how they're also ensuring that slow income families can never get their schools funded properly, often living in a violent environment where schools are falling apart, and they have little or no resources for good teaching supplies. Jonathan Kozol wrote about how poor people, especially minorities are kept in poverty in at least half a dozen books including "Savage Inequalities," "The Shame of the Nation," and "Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America" where he exposes epidemic levels of fraud designed to keep poor people in poverty from ever getting out of it, while business owners with political connections often profit off of this, often providing incredibly bad service for the homeless in programs that are guaranteed to fail, with funds from the government. Hotels that are supposed to help get homeless out of poverty are designed to guarantee that they stay in poverty while the owners make a fortune off government subsidies.
Some of this has been exposed and ended, but there's a pattern of behavior, virtually guaranteeing that they're replaced by other programs that are doing virtually the same thing, unless they get exposed as well, and since the mainstream media often have ties to corporations involved in it and local activists don't have the resources to expose it they often get away with it for years before being exposed then only get a slap on the wrist!
Kozol also reports on how business interests often spend an enormous amount of money in legal expenses to avoid being required to provide fair education and how San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez virtually overturned Brown v. Education in Savage Inequalities and "The Shame of the Nation," goes even further literally arguing that we have an apartheid education system, which no doubt, most people would consider totally false; however, after reading his books it may be much more difficult if not impossible to disagree with his conclusions. and looking at the statistics, including murder rates or how pollution is dumped in the poorest communities in our country further confirms his conclusions, but you wouldn't know this if you relied on traditional media to draw your conclusions.
Diane Ravitch, who served as Assistant Secretary of Education under Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander from 1991 to 1993 and previously supported education policies from both political parties, including on education reform had second thoughts writing "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education" and "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" exposing how economists and "The Billionaires Boys Club" are taking over the education system and turning it into a disaster! Of course the mainstream media practically never invites her on, at least not in the highest profile shows where larger audiences would be watching and when they mention her at all they try to portray her as radical or fringe if they can get away with it but those who read her books or blog surely disagree.
One of the biggest problems is the people most likely to read good books about how unequal the education system is are more likely to be well educated, which means that the system is rigged in their favor. Many sincere educated people are outraged by this; however those most motivated by it might be least likely to understand it, or know what to do about it without a good educational background!
The same goes for any other subject including labor rights, environmental protection, health care, and even wars based on lies, where the media routinely misrepresents the truth and a shocking percentage of the public is unaware of how they're being misled, including about the current stories pushing for military action against Iran, and if this doesn't escalate, it's virtually guaranteed that we'll be pushing for war against another country based on false or distorted information, which is routinely exposed on alternative media outlets that are much more active on this subject than most others.
There have always been alternative media outlets reporting on some of the most reliable news about foreign affairs; however, the vast majority of the public is unaware of them. In the sixties many people were well aware of the deception used to get us into Vietnam, possibly because they got their news from grassroots organizations, or some of the few print media outlets that hadn't gone out of business since the postal subsidies that Robert McChesney reported on were eliminated, although some of the worst consolidation of the media didn't escalate until the eighties and hit it's peak in the nineties under Bill Clinton.
Even though the mainstream media wasn't inclined to report it, some alternative media outlets must have reported how the Vietnamese signed their own Declaration of Independence patterned partly on ours that the French version of it. The United States didn't invade them to defend freedom of fight communism; they invaded for economic control, just like the coups in Iran, Guatemala, Chile and numerous other countries. They knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and even though I wasn't familiar with some of the best alternative media outlets until later, so did I, since even the mainstream media reported on Scott Ritter and Mohamed ElBaradei years before the invasion took place and they both reported accurately that the weapons of mass destruction weren't there.
In the build up to that war they stopped covering them and fired Phil Donahue for speaking against it, enabling them to convince the majority of the public, that didn't take the time to keep up with more reliable sources, assuming they they knew it was available, that there were weapons of mass destruction and some even believed that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda, even though traditional media reported that he didn't; but many right wing media outlets were reporting that he did and high profile pundits also repeated this in the traditional media sending mixed messages.
If we had diverse media controlled by people of different points of view, not only would it be virtually impossible to start wars based on lies, due to overwhelming opposition from the public if they were better informed, but there would be far less corporate fraud and less traditional blue collar crime and violence, since there's plenty of research showing what the leading causes of crime and violence are, and some of this is the poverty and economic inequality created by an incredibly corrupt economic system that suppresses wages for the working class while providing massive pay-offs for advertisers, lobbyists, public relations people, lawyers, politicians etc. who're involved in epidemic levels of fraud or creating propaganda to make it seem like our current economic system is in the best interest of the majority despite the evidence.
Good research from psychologists like James Garbarino, Jonathan Kozol shows that far more effective ways to reduce crime and violence can actually bye much cheaper than our mass incarceration system like the home visitor program cited by Professor Garbarino in one of his books. This is far less expensive than mass incarceration, which involves outreach to at risk parents from low income families. The Boston Globe wrote an article about this program in the mid-nineties saying that it had started in Hawaii and that studies there showed how it dramatically reduced the chance of children being involved in crime raised in families that have help. These visits to advise them and help them don't cost much but saved an enormous amount in court costs, which was confirmed in additional studies after it spread to several other states cited by Professor Garbarino. Jonathan Kozol reported on how providing fair help and training to homeless people is far more effective than politically connected hotels oppressing them, also reducing crime.
Murray Straus provides plenty of statistics showing how much damage corporal punishment does to children and how it contributes to long term violence; I did some of my own fact checking as reported in Research On Preventing Violence Absent From National Media and found that the states that still allow corporal Punishment in schools, and presumably use it more in homes, for the past ten years have murder rates that are 22% to 31% higher than those banning it. Additional research as shown in Insurance Executives Profit By Inciting Murder Occasionally Paying Killers that insurance provides an incentive for murder for hundreds of people every year if Murderpedia is statistically representative, and if it's not unless it's more than four times the real rate it's still over a hundred people every year.
The list of successful programs goes on much longer, however mainstream media refuses to report on them, so only those checking academic sources, good books or alternative media outlets are aware of them, and best research to reduce violence isn't used to make policy decisions.
This also applies to many other subjects, including how the economy is rigged, how votes are suppressed, how people are being used for medical research without full consent, and how the government subsidizes this research enabling pharmaceutical companies to keep patents even though tax money pays for development. There's even research showing how some local communities do more to stand up to corrupt corporations and how it helps solve social problems, including reduction of crime!
At least a dozen or so of the best non-fiction books have managed to get onto best seller lists; however, to the best of my knowledge they haven't had nearly as many promotions from the traditional media as most other books that make it onto the best sellers list. The reason for this is presumably quite simple, many of the people accustomed to reading good non-fiction books learned not to rely on promotions from mainstream media and they were often promoted through alternative media outlets, or the grassroots. After looking through the best sellers for the last few years I only recognized a couple authors that I thought were reasonably good, Lawrence Wright and Doris Kearns Goodwin, although they're not nearly as good as many other authors, and a few other books that looked like they might be reasonably good, although I didn't read them and can't be sure and dozens of high profile celebrities that clearly made it onto the list because of their fame, not because they're good writers, many of them are propagandists, often from the extreme right wing, which gets much more media coverage than progressive authors exposing corporate fraud or good research on how to prevent violence.
The following are some related articles or list of good books:
Wikipedia: The New York Times Best Seller list: Criticisms include how publishing companies misrepresent sales to get on the list, or how many books with a longer shelf life that sell more through word of mouth instead of "fast sales" which is presumably a result of heavy promotions, get preferential treatment.
Robert W. McChesney: "Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century" 2014 first Chapter "Capitalism as We Know It Has Got to Go" 12/30/2014
"Breaking Down the Wall" By Ira Basen 12/19/2012 How the alleged wall between advertising and news or editorial content broke down, or perhaps never worked very well in the first place.
Robert McChesney on Third World Traveler
Third World Traveler excerpts from dozens if not hundreds of books
Book Excerpts And Other Pages (Within a few weeks this list might grow close to a hundred)
Tracking the elite ruling class showing how a fraction of the wealtheist people control the media and political establishment.
Alternative Media is an Absolute Necessity!! Includes extensive list of alternative media outlets
Mainstream Media Inciting Fake News With Their Incompetence Includes list of about two hundred news outlets Washington Post reported on from a site that they implied was run by "experts" listing outlets they claim might be Russian propaganda. When the Washington Post article came out there was an enormous amount of backlash, because although some of the media outlets had credibility problems others were very good, and Washington Post distanced themselves from "Is It Propaganda Or Not?," which created this list. the clear conclusion was the people creating the list were as bad, if not worse propaganda than those they tried to discredit.
The Online Books Page Listing over 3 million free books on the Web - Updated regularly mostly classics now in the public domain.