Merchandizing: the Pinnacle, Apogee and Zenith of Cynicism

The objective behind government regulations is preventing the breaches of trust that can annihilate entire economies. In addition to the financial devastation they cause, such breaches breed cynicism at large and discourage people from participating in society and the marketplace because “what’s the point” comes to describe the prevailing attitudes. Equally nourishing to cynicism are smaller breaches–more like insults–like the sale of Wagner Group merchandising, described in the article linked below, and the application of cryptocurrency and Youtube to funding hate groups and misinformation. Though they will not make entire economies collapse, these breaches undermine optimism, trust and good will arguably in a much more harmful way.

We should not have to “take the bad with the good”. Progress means that we have figured out to how to maximize the good and to minimize the bad. The hijacking of new commodities and old marketing methods for the purpose of aiding and abetting the malfeasance of ignoble people undermines the perception and the reality of progress. And, if we don’t feel as if we have progress, then, indeed, what is the point?

Online prices for merchandise bearing the insignia of Russia’s Wagner group – a human skull against a black and red backdrop – have shot up since its abortive armed mutiny, with buyers posting five-star reviews and support for the mercenaries.

Source: Wagner merch soars in price after abortive mutiny

The Destinations for Russian Petroleum Exports

The data in the Energy Information Agency report linked below is somewhat dated, but it is hard to imagine that the values have changed very significantly over the past 5 years, unless US dependence on Russian oil was deliberately expanded between 2016 and 2021. Based on the graph below, the United States derived a scant 50,000 barrels per day of its oil supply from Russia. It is clear that China, Netherlands and Germany are most dependent on Russian oil, with China receiving nearly 1 million barrels per day from Russia. The exploitation of this oil dependence by Russia for the purpose of destroying Ukraine is nauseating, and it is additionally dispiriting to learn that banning Russia’s oil supply from America is unlikely to affect Russia’s revenues in any truly meaningful way. It is positively feasible, however, for the US to wipe out Russian oil from its supply, but it remains an open question whether, in addition to the crushing sanctions, this act will act as the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

The destinations for Russian oil as of 2016, according to US Energy Information Agency

The data are unequivocal. The US can reject Russian oil.

Source: Russia exports most of its crude oil production, mainly to Europe – Today in Energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Applying a Band-Aid to a Mortal Wound

Source: WhatsApp imposes even stricter limits on message forwarding

The speed with which social media have been hijacked by malicious forces to achieve ghastly ends is disconcerting. WhatsApp alone has been used to instigate lynchings in India and possibly a genocide in Burma. It is a sign of Facebook’s profound cowardice that it is acting only when a pandemic that affects the entire world–especially Facebook’s country of incorporation, the United States–is in full effect. Even so, the measures they are taking are much too paltry compared to the challenge to be of any use or effect. The quote below from WhatsApp constitutes the epitome of cynicism, the apogee of hypocrisy: after destroying truth, aiding the incitement of genocide and empowering propaganda machines, FaceBook is making a trivial gesture that effects little change beyond the actor making the statement below.

Caveat emptor! If you are getting your news from WhatsApp or Facebook, you are likely an ignoramus.

“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” the company added.