12 January 2011

For Hire

In this world where work is meaningless and where we try to infuse our being with such by posting things on blogs and the twit-face the Me-tube in order to (for this seeking soul, at least) connect and in that connection "make" meaning "between us" I continue to encounter situations that confuse my understanding.

Greenwald today offers an example of the "for-hire" corporate spokesman. (You can click through at the end for details). Upon reading that phrase I had to find out exactly what that meant. I knew what it meant, but I wanted to get some knowledge of this specific case. (As the current Admin's Press Secretary leaves we must note that he too is, perhaps more obviously, "for hire".) This example via GG is James Richardson of Hynes Communication. I went to Hynes and while reading his bio thought no good thoughts about this man. However, directly above his bio was one for Ethan Kendrick and upon reading his bio and his work focus I thought good thoughts about this man.

It became clear, of course, that Hynes Communication will be all things to all customers. And then I had that most hackneyed of thoughts about prostitution in all guises. But, it seems infinitely MORE HONEST to me to be one who services another's bodily pleasures than one who services conflicting modes of agency.

This is a bit hard to parse and I will encourage any help on this to clarify, but I find myself intimately tied to my thoughts and those thoughts and presentation thereof I want to be what I consider ME. I may not show ALL of me to the public, but what I show, I intend that to be representative. I may need to adjust on the run whenever new information or understanding alters a perception...but the end product will remain somewhat consistent (if not always coherent!).

So does Red-State blogger and corporate/power man MEAN what he says (and if so does that make a difference--I think it does)--and does his opposite man "speaking for" alternative energy and adoption and so on MEAN what he says? Or are they both simply taking sides for pay? And again, does it matter? So, James and Erik don't say a damn thing, Hynes does? Right?

I've asked this over the years when I have made specific reference to the American Chemistry Council. This is a lobby group that only spouts a business/corporate line. No shades of gray--unless they can see a future benefit. Dow and Pfizer etc. don't speak for themselves (look I've made them person-like), the ACC does.

So, one can posit that perhaps there is no ethical speech in the public realm. There are only momentary power positions and those are as likely to change as the weather.

I often praise Emerson (or at least often quote him) but he is loosey-goosey with the concept of "whim" in presentation. He was a good man. But one can see how much of his philosophy is easy to use to negative effect.




  1. Flaks for hire do the spin dance for money. Everyone's ethics are different, organization or spox both. Work for an ethical group, you'll likely find more ethical talking heads.

  2. How do "ethical" groups subsist in a profit model?

  3. I couldn't get past the first words of this post, "In this world where work is meaningless..."

    That phrase was so wrapped in cynicism that I had to tie a rope around me and secure it a la Poltergeist to make sure I had a safe way out as I read further. I was glad that there were no other gloomy ghouls awaiting me.

    To address your own comment to the post, yes, ethical groups can subsist in a profit model theoretically when the outcome of a transaction (selling a product or a service) is viewed equitably by both parties. For example, an airline transports me safely and quickly from point A to point B (a short-haul route) at a cost less than it would take me if I drove and paid for gas/wear-n-tear/car maintenance, etc. If the airline makes a profit for this service, I can not begrudge it. Seems fair all around. Pretty much Southwest's model.

  4. Ah, Easy, I apologize for this. Maybe I mean "labor"...or better, I think that the work we do gives us no meaningful sense of the self outside of the "ends" of the paycheck. A way we connect with each other is working together towards a common goal that has meaning to us as a group. Perhaps an ideal is the Amish barn-raising?

    Anyway, to your specific point which can make sense with the above comment: as a cynic, so-called, I don't believe there's much in the way of "disinterest" to be had anywhere, but that shouldn't shock anyone as it's how we are, right? I do not think we are all conscously selfish...but I do think our inherent biology likely works in mysterious ways to try to replicate the species' genes and that there is enough confusion in the science of such to be able to say that altruism matters as strategy for replication. I believe we have come far enough in this dance to acknowledge this "fate" and yet still believe that we can be "good" outside of genetic interest. And besides, there's enough out there about quantum mechanics to blow the top off one's head in terms of applying this physics to biology.

    But practically, at the level of dailiness and psychology we are habituated to the profit motive.

    I do like your example as I still can imagine (and this goes for what Jennifer said to) that a group can want to act for the common good (commonweal; common wealth; well-fare; welfare) of its members and that by extension this might apply to others outside of that group.

    And I do believe there are companies and presidents of companies and boards of companies that want to set and follow an ethical standard in how they operate in the world.

    I believe the concept of the shareholder (blind and greedy in terms of the type of "owner" they are) is a mistake in our conception of economics. Psychologically we want to make money from nothing in that sense and that creates a very real and substantial tension in the operations of companies and it's why we have the corporate greed we have.

    Babbling...sorry. You are both right and I am being cynical re: our culture of profit. It is a point in anyone's favor to at least set an ethical standard (for the good) and attempt to have all aspects of business life adhere to this. It is immensely difficult to do this.