More is Less

March 2, 2013

boys with gunsI was recently reminded of a nasty piece of twisted self-serving logic that rivals anything concocted by Republicans at the height of the voter suppression movement during last election: i.e. a report issued by the Phillip Morris in 2001. It was a glimpse into the shadows of corporation-think.

The Phillip Morris report was intended to counter efforts to raise tobacco taxes in the Czech Republic and “…touted the ‘positive effects’ that early mortality due to smoking had on the country’s economy.”  Even though its action was later exposed, and Phillip Morris issued a public apology out of one side of its mouth, out of the other it was saying similar things to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia (

In the best of circumstances a human thinks with his or her heart and brain and filters thoughts through a conscience, but don’t forget that corporations have no hearts or brains. They’re not like natural people. Corporations think with their Accounting Department and operate without conscience —unless you want to call their Legal and Public Relations Departments their conscience. The logic of corporations is of a more primitive sort and has no shame component.

The argument Phillip Morris made was that smokers, by dying early, saved the Czech government 30 million dollars due to reduced health-care costs in 1999 —savings not just in actual medical costs but also in reductions in pensions and housing costs for the elderly. The report called this “… an indirect positive effect of smoking”.

Phillip Morris’ logic was that reducing the average life span by 5.23 years helped offset higher health-care costs related to nicotine addiction. The corporation used statistical info in the report to influence Czech politicians and officials —but this should sound familiar since US oil and arms corporations, among others, stupefy politicians with whacked stats while beating them into submission using clubs fashioned of thousand dollar bills.

But why did Phillip Morris stop there? Following its reasoning all governments could reap billions in health care benefit costs by mandating that everyone but a selected few be subject to nicotine addiction with a shot in the butt of nicotine concentrate as we slip from the womb.  This would have the added boon to tobacco corporations of not requiring huge expenditures for ads to snag greenhorns barely out of Huggies. Earlier addiction would mean that at five we’d be weaned from pure nicotine to Malboros and spend our early years hacking, coughing and contributing to the retirement of tobacco execs. At twenty it’s off to an oncologist to be dead as doornails by 45 thereby reducing the nation’s health care costs by billions and billions as carl Sagan liked to say.

Or how about eliminating hypocrisy entirely?  Cut to the chase.  Just make infanticide legal; an integral part of state health programs. Think of the reduced health care costs then.

What is it with these people —have they no self-respect? But this is how corporations corrupt.

The most recent example of corporate-think in the news today is that of the arms industry, which will lobby to its last breath (if corporate persons had lungs) to put guns in the hands of as many people as possible. They will fight tooth and nail using front organizations like the NRA to hold the line against background checks and the banning of automatic weapons and high capacity magazines. They will spend millions to pay-off representatives (who also seem devoid of brains, hearts, and consciences) to stave off such things as public health research into studies of the widespread effects of gun violence on our society. Arms corporations fear that widespread knowledge may  lead to …uh,  bad action.

Case in point:  “In 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Why would they do this?

Of course there may be more reasons than the intent to keep us stupid, but I don’t think so. Coincidentally, although pro-gun members failed to actually defund the center they were clever.  Subsequently “…the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year.” (Silencing the Science on Gun Research, by Arthur Kellerman, MD, MPH and Frederick Rivera, MD, MPH, 2012)

In the way the tobacco industry’s European solution to high health care costs is more sickness leading to more early deaths, the NRA/Arms Industry’s solution to gun violence is: more ignorance and more guns regardless of more deaths.

This is the nut of corporate-think.

Arm everybody! they say, putting forth solutions to the Newtown massacre such as arming teachers, arming janitors, having armed security guards at school and finally, as suggested by SC State Senator Lee Bright: arm kids.

“I believe the more guns we have the safer we are,” said Bright.

Yes, Bright wants to arm children too. And, just as the tobacco industry includes in its business model the enticement of children to become addicted to nicotine, the arms industry is more aggressively marketing its product to the youngest among us: “… the (arms) industry’s efforts (through the NRA) have taken shape and gathered momentum in schools across the country, with rifle teams and hunter’s education classes enticing record numbers of younguns to take up the sport”. (Jessica Pupovac, Alternet)

While more gun knowledge may lead to more responsible use of a single weapon, more weapons are not the way to fewer gun deaths. Let’s remember that the Newtown shooter’s mother’s arsenal was the source of the gun that killed Newtown’s children. One less gun in that household and there probably would be 20 fewer dead children in the USA.

Add to the increased number of  automatic massacres the obscene number of “ordinary” gun deaths across the USA (31,572 in 2010) and you have daily Armageddon —by the way the 2010 gun deaths equal a fully loaded 747 crashing once a week for a year. You have to wonder how long the Airline Industry could remain un-scrutinized and un-regulated with that statistic)

In the case of tobacco more is less (life, that is) In the case of guns, less is more.

Jim Culleny