Unknown’s Letter (the Mask is Off)

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To whom it may concern,

I take umbrage at the NSA and their so-called PRISM surveillance program (code name US-984XN. Spooky name, no?). A little spying is to be expected from the most corrupt, technology-based government on the planet, but this simply goes too far.

The government ridiculously claims that the data they have collected in the PRISM project cannot “be intentionally used to target anyone living in the United States.” What the hell does that mean? In other words, they are saying: “Uh, yeah sure we’re spying on you, but we won’t use it against you in any way, we promise.” They don’t even need those guys in the movies in the “Jim’s Flowers” van anymore, they can just kick back, relax, and read all your emails from the comfort of their own home!

Even prior to the startling admission that major companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook were freely giving information to the government when “pressured”, I may have been somewhat paranoid when it comes to online information. I try to stay low profile, not sending anything on Facebook or in an email that contains personal data (let alone credit card numbers like some other crazy people out there!) I also avoid social media except when it is absolutely necessary, preferring instead to use the little-remembered concept known in the 19th century as “speech” as my main form of communication.

Nonetheless, I must admit that I have Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a Tumblr page. In a few days I plan to remove myself from all of these services, but in the meantime I am trying to explain to both my friends and business associates why I am doing so . . . and sadly, the only way to share my message of change far and wide without having to tell the same story over and over is to use those same websites that I plan to remove myself from!

So Mr.Capitalism, this brings me to my question: in the world that we have created, is it possible to remove yourself from social media and the blogosphere entirely? Can one really achieve and sustain a productive social and work life without the usage of these new technologies?

Sadly, I fear that the answer might be no. What we have done is created a world where not only are these media services ‘tools’ to be molded and shifted according to ones beliefs, but rather as necessities, without which you are to be seen as a social pariah, out of touch with reality and the modern world. In that kind of world, everyone must recognize that they are susceptible to this kind of monitoring.

I think your answer can shed a lot of light on this issue since you straddle both sides of the debate: you both fund and supply the surveillance companies with the technological equipment they require AND you fight in the courts for the government to stay out of everyone’s business affairs and personal lives. Thank you for your time, I hope you choose to stand alongside internet activists around the world in choosing to call for greater transparency in governmental programs such as PRISM.

(No name was signed to this letter)

Dear “Anonymous” (like that really exists),

I would like to thank you for your letter, and further would like to let you know that your IP address, social security number and current location have been registered and sent to the proper authorities for analysis.

Just kidding! (Or am I . . .) Dun dun dun.

MISTER CAPITALISM

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Amrit’s Letter

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

I need to get this off my chest. I voted for Rob Ford for the Mayor of Toronto in 2010. I liked his policies and I liked him as a person. He seemed like a straight-shooter who was going to stop wasting public money on things that just didn’t make sense for the city to pay for. If you are homeless, I say get a job. If you are hungry, I stop stop wasting money on cell phone payments and beer. When Rob talked about the “gravy train” I was totally on board, and we were definitely going in the same direction.

I would imagine you know where I’m going with this.

Just over a month ago this whole scandal hit accusing Mr.Ford of smoking crack and the concurrent claim emerged that a video had been taken of him doing said illegal act. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially since the original publications making these claims were Gawker and the Toronto Star which I place right along MSNBC and Pravda for bullshit left-wing news. (Rob would call them pinkos, God bless him.) However, I had to admit some trepidation about my views when the mayor refused to come out immediately to emphatically deny all claims. The Rob Ford I know would have sued the pants off anyone who accused him of anything, let alone a crime as heinous as crack-usage.

And then the dominoes really started to fall . . . one of the people in the photographs (and presumably the video) with Rob turned up dead. Then and only then did Ford come out to say the video did not exist. Strange timing to be sure. Finally, just a few days back, the remaining men in the photo were arrested in Western Canada and some nutso computer hackers now claim to be close to acquiring the video in question. I must admit that even I would like to see the alleged video, especially since the online campaign to buy the footage from the drug dealers long ago surpassed the $200,000 goal.

So my question for you Mr.C is this: Rob is going to be coming up for election again in the near future, and I still support both his ideologies and his policies. However, I am no longer so sure about the man himself, and whether or not he is fit to lead a city of more than four million people. What should I do?

Amrit Singh

Dear Amrit,

Hello to all my readers North of the border! How are the igloos and the maple syrup? Just kidding, I know it doesn’t snow every day in Canada, that’s just a myth.

I have to say that not much news from way up there trickles down here, but when Jon Stewart AND Jay Leno feel compelled to comment, it must be serious news!

To answer your question directly, I have always thought that people’s personal lives should be kept separate from their political careers (except for that Eliot Spitzer, he deserved everything he got, the scumbag). God knows that if people were privy to everything I did I might not be as popular worldwide as I am today.

However, and I’m going to take a deep breathe before I write this . . . even Mr.Capitalism has his limits. I would not vote for someone who (even allegedly) smokes crack while in office. This isn’t a little weed after a tough day at City Hall, or getting drunk on July 4th (er, or whatever holidays you crazy Canucks celebrate . . . Moose Day?) This is crack. CRACK!?! If you can’t deny this better than Mr.Ford has, and if this many people within his cabinet have resigned over these claims, well, we all know the story of smoke and fire.

Just find another politician in Toronto who doesn’t like wasting cash on homeless people or women’s shelters or bike lanes or what have you. Believe me, there’s lots of non-crack smoking right-wingers up there who feel exactly the same way that Mr.Ford does. Maybe it’s the whole city who is smoking; how did you elect this guy in the first place? Jeez.

MISTER CAPITALISM

Rodney’s Post

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

This is Rodney here and I would like to make a complaint. A complaint about America and a complaint about honor and a complaint about decency and a complaint about patriotism. Mostly what I want to complain about is that damn Obama, his military budget cuts and how it affects me: I live in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and they’ve got rid of my Armed Forces Day festivities. This is absolutely a top 50 yearly outdoor-drunken opportunity that I’m missing out on here!!!

Sometimes you hear about stuff on the news like this military sequestration, but when it really hits home you can see how that Communist and his cabal can hurt regular Americans across this land. The third Saturday of May is sacred for me so I can show much I love this country by going to the local base, saluting the flag, setting up a bunch of lawn chairs and a blanket, cook meat on a grill out of the back of my SUV, and get absolutely trashed. What better way to show the rest of the world that they can’t mess with this great nations of ours?

The core of the US of A is its military, and without it we are nothing. I support our troops, but obviously our joke of a president doesn’t share the same sentiment. Too bad our generals are too patriotic to do what they really should: take the White House back by force and restore the nation to people who care about the regular Joes who fight all over the world. Do something Mr.Capitalism!

Rod.

Dear Rod,

You are a true patriot and I am proud to call myself American when there are people like you around. By spending all your disposable income on beer and guns, you’re keeping the economy humming like never before—if every American (especially children) took the same initiative, then China wouldn’t stand a chance.

You know, I heard Obama speak on the sequestration the other day

and he keeps focusing on how we spend eleven dollars on the armed forces for every one dollar we spend on education. This might seem unfair to our kids, but the truth of the matter is that bombs are just more expensive than pencils and paper—you have to have priorities. In 2011 we spent $711 billion on the military, which was more than the next 13 countries combined, and every penny of it was well spent.

I’ve also heard complaints from people who clearly aren’t the patriots that Rodney here is, that the reason for the roll back in spending is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are winding down. The problem with this logic is that, once we are faced with another threat like those looming in North Korea or Syria or Libya or Grenada, (you gotta watch out for this island, you never know when we’ll have to re-invade) we won’t have the man-power or weaponry to fight back effectively. Maybe the president doesn’t know it, but we are still at war with terrorism and the only way to solve the problem is to out-spend everyone by a mile. It’s the American way!

Don’t worry, Rodney, I’m on top of it: I guarantee we’ll have someone in power next time that will know that cutting the military budget is no solution. For now, stage your own rogue-Armed Forces Day celebration this Saturday by raising the biggest flag you can find and burning all the pictures of that Muslim who (temporarily) has control of this great nation. I still have lots of people in good places, trust me.

MISTER CAPITALISM

Wallace’s Second Letter

Dear Mr. Capitalism –

JACK POT BABY! JACK POT! Who said God doesn’t love lawyers and agents? He has sure planted a great big kiss on the head of yours truly, Wallace J. Stone. My head is spinning after the most important news since the coming of Jackie Robinson – we have our gay athlete in the NBA and his name is Jason Collins.

I can’t go into all the details of my involvement but look closely and you’ll see my fingerprints all over this pot of gold. He is black and he is gay. The black part we all knew, the gay part we wondered. Wonder no more. AND HE IS A FREE AGENT, able to sign with any team smart enough, rich enough, brave enough to want him bad enough.

As I so cooly predicted when I last wrote you, teams are now be faced with the most important question of the age: Why didn’t _______________(insert team name) sign him? Are they afraid of gays? Are they in league with the homophobes in bars and dressing rooms?

So far I have lined up dozens of supporters – none of them bidders for his signature on the dotted line you will notice. But what is the limit to what we can ask for when you think about the crowds filling every single arena for every single basketball game in which he plays? Is half a million a game too outrageous?

Think on it – for the first time in the history of the world people will wish they were and black and gay. I am all atingle.

Yours truly,

WJS

Dear Wallace my boy,

Good work, good work! I suspected you all along, you ol’ devil you! And such a clean cut boy too, someone who every mother across America would gladly bring home to meet their son! And he went to Stanford, is already rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams (not mine) and he’s well-spoken to boot!

The only mistake you made is that he seems a bit old for this gig, don’t you think? On top of that, something that no one wants to say right now but we all agree upon—Jason Collins really sucks at basketball. At best he’s a third-string center who was just hanging on for dear life to stay in the NBA. Nonetheless, the first openly gay player might as well be someone who wasn’t very good since he’ll get tons of media attention in any case . . . and then Wallace, you can hit them hard the next time: a superstar! Someone who people have actually heard of before the annoucement! Someone who people previously purchased the jersey of and know what they look like. It will just keep building and building!

In any case, he’s not a no one anymore! Not only a smart marketing move for the two of you, but he’s going to make big cash on his upcoming salaries alone! And if one of those teams say they don’t want him, you can always sue for discrimination! Bonus!

Cross-promotions, as we discussed last time, will be key. Since he’s going to be with a new team in any case (although he’s played for practically every franchise already!) we need to include some sort of uniform change to go along with the signing. Perhaps rainbow-jerseys or an in-arena pride parade before every game.

Jason Collins, you are a truly courageous man: you had the fortitude to stand up, realize your playing career was almost over, and you came up with a way to make more cash in your waning playing-days than you ever did for your actual basketball skill. Now that’s capitalism!

MISTER C.

Jose’s Letter

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

My name is Jose, and I would like to ask a question about Wal-Mart.

I live in a pretty medium sized town in Illinois called Galesburg, most people haven’t heard of it. It’s a nice place to live. Rumor has it that the Marx brothers got their original names while passing through our theatre back in 1914. We also have a big railroad festival every year and Knox College is right in the town, so we have lots of students around too. All in all, I would have to say its a typical American town in every way. I grew up here and would like to stay, although the changes I’ve seen these recent years might mean I have to move to a bigger city even though I don’t want to.

Also typical of our town is that we have a massive Wal-Mart Supercenter right in the heart of downtown. It’s massive and does pretty much everything a Supercenter does: it’s a tire place and mechanics, a pharmacy, an eye glasses place, a massive junk food grocery store, a plant and garden center, they sell cell phones and other technological doodads, they do passport photos, and they have a full portrait studio. There’s even a gall-darn sandwich restaurant in there just in case you get hungry while you’re shopping in the place for hours and hours trying to find what you need.

Now, my father was a carpenter and so was my grandfather. I apprenticed with them when I was a teenager, but soon realized that there’s no money in that field anymore. Why? Because people ’round here don’t have enough money to work on their homes anymore and if they do, they choose to do it themselves to save some cash. I’m not an economist like you are, but I have the feeling that some of this might be because so many people have become unemployed these last five year since the Wal-Mart moved in and closed down so many of our local businesses. When I was growing up, the people who owned the drugstore or the photo place were pretty well off, but since they don’t have jobs now, they no longer have any money to put into the community. (I would also like to add that our city has a huge percentage of its citizens who have recently gone on welfare to cover the gap in having one or two members of the household unemployed.)

So, my question is this: how is Wal-Mart good for the US economy or for the American people? If they come in, kill all of our businesses, kill all of our jobs and then we have no money to spend on anything, isn’t this bad for capitalism overall? Shouldn’t they be stopped from having this horrible affect on our communities? What can I do to get them out of my town?

Dear Jose,

[editor’s note: Mister Capitalism couldn’t be with us today, so instead we bring you his devoted disciple Tim Worstall of Forbes.com]

I think all of the answers to your questions can be found here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/03/31/of-course-walmart-destroys-retail-jobs-thats-the-darn-point-of-it-all/

Please read this in its entirety, and then come back here for a few more comments from yours truly . . .

So, there you have it, Costco and Wal-Mart: good, you, your families and your communities: stupid. It’s just the way capitalism goes, and I say: suck it up. In the article I even give you some suggestions, the most pressing being curing cancer! Now that you have all this free time because you’re out of a job and are not trained in anything that is applicable to the modern world (like carpentry—what’s the point of that, just shop at the Home Depot!), spend your waking hours curing an incurable disease. Problem Solved.

You ask, what can be done to stop Wal-Mart once they are already in your town? Nothing. Mr.Capitalism has done an excellent job of convincing politicians all across America and Britain that having a Supercenter in their town is a good idea . . . and if he has to throw some cash their way every once in a while, well, that’s not corruption, that’s just old-fashioned greasin’ the wheels.

The other option for you is to move: there are plenty of low-wage labor jobs in the third world, and they’re always looking for carpenters to build their huts on the outskirts of major cities—it doesn’t pay much, but at least you’ll have something to do with your idle hands. Now me, I am trained in economics, so I have never built anything in my entire life. If I need some carpentry or some yard work done at one of my mansions, well, that’s why there are people called “Mexicans” and “North Africans” in the world. They love to work for nothing!

Thanks for you letter, and get out there and do something and stop being so lazy!

Tim Worstall, proud owner of Wal-Mart stock.

Hugo’s Letter

Dear Mister Capitalism,

My name is Hugo and I live in Venezuela. I also have a wordpress blog and somehow found you online. I have enjoyed what you have written so far, although sometimes I think you are too mean to the people who write to you. Maybe some more compassion would help you out, I am not sure.

I was wondering if you could talk some about how you feel about the recent election in my country. With Mr. Chavez passing away recently, there were many opinions for what would happen next with most people thinking that Mr. Maduro [editor’s note: the successor chosen by Hugo Chavez before his death] would easily beat Mr. Capriles [editor’s note: the right-wing, pro-American opposition]. However, in the end the vote was very close [editor’s note: about 500,000 in an election where over 14,000,000 votes were cast] and Mr. Maduro escaped with a narrow victory. Now, all of the sudden my country has been thrown into electoral-chaos because the voting is being challenged by the other party.

I figured you would have a unique position on the election results both because you have such an interest in the future of the Venezuelan economy, and also because your home country has dealt with this electoral chaos in the past. What do you think? Do you have any suggestion for what the people of my country should do in this difficult time?

Dear Hugo,

Your first sentence truly gave me the shivers. It was like the bogeyman had come back from the dead to haunt me! It’s like when I find myself on a business trip down in Southern Brazil, Uruguay or Argentina and everywhere I go I hear people saying “Che,” “Che,” “Che.” Every time I hear it, my heart freezes and I think, where? Where is that bastard? Has he come back again? It’s not possible! I killed him by putting him on t-shirts and mugs and belt buckles. I was relieved to hear that your name just happens to be the same as that devil who ran your country so ruthlessly these past many years. Congratulations on freeing yourself from a dictator worse than Stalin, Hitler or Jimmy Carter. Someone who was so devious that he would seek to steal the hard-earned money from American oil companies and place it into the hands of foolish locals who had no idea of high finance or how the world works. I believe that countries’ developments can be compared to that of the growth of the human being. While Latin Americans are certainly not the drooling infants that we find in Africa, they are certainly petulant teenagers always whining and protesting about every little human right violation. Now that Chavez is gone, the father of the world will hopefully be able to take control of the household once again.

As far as the election results, I am not concerned. I already have many people down there making sure to get things overturned come hell or high water. (probably high water) If not, I already have my associates in the office of Mr. Maduro to ensure that he makes things a whole lot more friendly in that country than they have been the last 14 years. This whole ‘Latin American solidarity’ stuff has to be stopped. Once Castro’s cartel dies off in the next few months, we can also restore that countries proud heritage as the playground for the American rich. Casinos, ritzy hotels, high priced prostitutes. The rich need to blow of steam too, you know, it’s not easy running the world.

But back to your country. Chavistas and their supports worldwide (aka crackpots) have been confused about the nature of that oppressive regime for some time. People have pretended that Chavez cared about the people because he aided in setting up powerful local governments, distributing food and land as never before and raising the so-called “standard of living” etc. But what they didn’t understand is that by opposing free trade, he was undercutting the concept of economic determinism everywhere. If companies are not sure that they will win a given contract by offering the lowest possible total cost, then what is the world coming to? Opening the borders of the third world to foreign companies was the major economic driving force in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and we have all seen how that has worked out: fucking great! There are more billionaires than ever before, more giant corporations merging together and at a faster rate than previously, and governments power has clearly become secondary to the businesses that actually run their respective countries. All you negative-Nancys have probably come up with some reasons why this is bad, but I refuse to listen, my hands are over my ears (LA LA LA LA LA LA!) Forward, ho!

Once we make sure this illegal Chavista government gets thrown out over a technicality of some sort (we’re working on it, I just don’t have the details yet) we can add Venezuela back into the fold. And you, Hugo, and all the other Hugos out there, can bask in the fruits of my labor. Hey, perhaps even one day I’ll see you, hopefully in some beautiful resort alongside your gorgeous beaches—you can serve me a drink in your newly created job! I’ll have a Cuba libre, heavy on the rum.

MISTER CAPITALISM.

P.S. Oh yeah, you mentioned the electoral chaos in my country? I don’t remember that. Do you mean the American Idol scandal?

Wallace’s Letter

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

My name is Wallace Stone and I am a lawyer. A very good lawyer who is not wealthy enough for my liking. Yes, I drive a great car and live in a spacious home near the ocean but I feel I should be worth so much more. After all, how much is enough?

I have just begun to put the pieces together to begin a Sports Representation Agency featuring professional athletes. Most professional athletes make more money than they are worth and I see a niche here for myself. I want to represent a new class of pro athletes – ones who will explode on the front pages of every newspaper, take over every news story on TV, be the first to make millions off who they are, rather than what they do. Who better than me to be at the center of a media storm?

I want to be the sole agent to all the gay athletes who are about to come out. But first, I want to locate the sport where that athlete is likely to come from. The NFL? Maybe. NBA? Not likely. Major League Baseball. I don’t know. The National Hockey League – maybe but I hope not. Not enough money to be made off them.

As you know, no professional player who was still active in sport has yet come out, but it is getting close. Rumors are everywhere about a group of players coming out together so that they would have each other for support. How many gay athletes are there? If we combine the number of players from the 4 major sports at about 4000 that puts the number of gay men (at about 3% of the total) around 120.

Ad agencies will have to sign them because they would be afraid to be seen as homophobic. Think of the lawsuits against other teams for not having a gay athlete or not protecting the ones they have.

My question is what sport do you think would generate the most income for a newly announced gay athlete?

Dear Wallace,

I truly admire you gumption. You have learned the most important lesson in this life here on Earth: never be satisfied with what you have. You can always have more, and that ‘more’ will always make you happier . . . unless it doesn’t, in which case the only solution is ‘even more.’ Good work, young man.

I also must commend you on your idea, which is sound. One thing for which I have always been proud is my ability (along with associates such as yourself) to take any subculture/trend/change and make it into a commodity. Hippies, poor inner city black people, Arab keffiyeh, what ever the case may be: turn something that has meaning to people but no monetary value and market market market!

The gay demographic is sadly under-exploited in our mainstream culture. There are literally hundreds of thousands of gay people out there who are not being marketed to properly. And I don’t only mean the obvious gay-sitcoms and gay-films, but gay-toothbrushes, gay-coffee pots, everything! I mean, I myself am not gay nor do I know anyone who is, but from what I understand of them, they all act and think pretty much the same, so we can treat them as such. It’s the advertising way!

Your idea to start an all-frou frou sports agency is clever. Gay athletes might be a tough sell in certain spaces, but in others (what we like to call the ‘sympathetic, centrist-liberal 18-49 demographic’) it’s going to be a goldmine!

As far as your direct question, I think you know the answer: synergy, cross-pollination, diversify!!! These might sound like buzzwords to the outsiders, but you and I know that consumers fall for it every time. Why restrict yourself to one athlete or even one sport? I think you need to take a page from one of my finest proteges, Jay-Z. Rather than just focus on one sport and gain expertise that way, make a big splash without thinking of the repercussions! Find one homo (that’s what they like to be called, isn’t it?) in each of the major sports (baseball, basketball and football—your inclusion of hockey was cute) and have them “come out” at the same time! Ooh, ooh, ooh, we can even do one of those LeBron James-style “taking my talents to South Beach” 1-hour specials and live announcements! Can you imagine the ratings if we announced that one major sports star in each league was gay and was going to be revealed live on Sunday at 8pm!

I’m hyper-ventilating here, have your people call my people, let’s do lunch . . .

Action figures! We can do action figures! Do you think you could find a transsexual athlete? We could have interchangeable parts! That would sell like hotcakes next Christmas! We could make movies out of it too, whoever these guys are would be like Jackie Robinson multiplied by twitter! (we’re still milking Jackie for all he’s worth with that new movie out this week, but we need some fresh “overcoming bigotry” meat for the grinder)

If I could shake your hand in a letter, I would sir. Good job, Wallace. (Just know: I am a Yankees, Cowboys and Lakers fan, so if you could make sure the guys aren’t on any of those teams, I would appreciate it. If I found out Jeter or Kobe was a faggot, I don’t think I could take it . . . although all their jerseys I have would be worth more on eBay.)

MISTER CAPITALISM