Adolph and the Free Sh*t Model


I really don’t like invoking Adolph, and I don’t like “swear words,” especially in headlines. But today I’m hard pressed to avoid either, and so I’ll just go with it.

I can’t avoid Adolph because he said something more clearly than anyone else I’m able to quote. Here’s the passage:

I have not come into this world to make men better, but to make use of their weaknesses.

And that’s precisely what he did. It’s also what Google, Facebook, and other “free sh*t” providers are doing. They are amassing power by using human weaknesses… and the bosses know it quite well.

The Foundation of the Problem

A friend recently sent me an article by Nathan McDonald of “Sprott Money News.” In it, Mr. McDonald complains that people “are blissfully ignoring the ensnaring net that is slowly being drawn around them.” And he’s right of course. He goes on to say,

The digital dark age is here, and the elite few tech giants that are ushering it in are beginning their attack on anyone, anything that does not agree with their echo chamber of thought.

A small handful of companies, you know their names well, virtually control a massive part of our society now. They have near complete control over many aspects of your lives, and don’t for a second think that they don’t.

And again, Mr. McDonald is not wrong, although it goes even farther than he notes; all of this is tied into the Western spy agencies. Consider: If you were a spymaster, is there any chance you’d ignore the ability to deeply surveil a couple of billion people at once? Especially if it was all automated and maintained at the expense of others? You’d be the worst spymaster in history if you didn’t.

And so Facebook, and especially Google, have been brought into the security complex. (You can see some damning emails in our report.)

The thing is, people could opt out of it all (well, nearly all of it) in a single day, if they weren’t trapped by their own weaknesses. The company I manage (Cryptohippie) has been doing just that for more than a decade, and there are now others providing similar services. Plus, there are functional dark nets. Throwing sand in Sauron’s eye isn’t beyond people’s technical or monetary abilities… it’s just beyond their emotional abilities.

Which Weaknesses?

Okay, let’s get specific.

First are the social instincts: getting your esteem from others, feeling like part of a group and feeling unable (or afraid) to leave it. Becoming dependent upon their approval, building your life around them, and feeling a deep void at the thought of losing them. Humans are susceptible to these things, and Facebook plays them to the hilt. They even design programs to keep people addicted.

The second weakness is the one that brings people into the trap. It’s the one that Google especially uses. And it is this: Humans have a deep fear of scarcity.

Here’s what I replied to the friend who sent me Mr. McDonald’s article:

Most people live in perpetual fear of scarcity (even though they experience no actual privation) and are abject suckers for free stuff. The entire system rests upon that weakness.

I think we’ve all felt the overly strong impulse to grab at anything free. We may understand very well that we’re accepting the proverbial “candy from the man in the car.” We adults understand on some level that we’re being lied to – no one provides long-term services that are actually free – but we jump at the offer just the same.

On top of that, nearly none of us in the West are suffering from lack of material resources. We’d have no problem paying a couple of dollars per month for email and search services. And yet we feel compelled to grasp at free stuff… even though we know that the offer comes from liars with hidden motives.

Yeah, something’s wrong in us. And it links back to a fear of scarcity. Not only is it an old fear (it had some factual basis in the old days), but it is stoked in us day by day.

Try, if you dare, to count the number of ads you are confronted with every day, and see if you can locate the obscure “you’re insufficient without this” message in them.

They say that some of the American Indians used to fear having their photos taken, as the photo might capture their souls. But this is precisely what Google, Facebook, et al., are doing: They’re taking your digital soul, handing it to the world’s most intrusive spy agencies, manipulating you based upon it, and now are playing truth police at the behest of behind-the-scene elites. And it all rests upon our weaknesses.

It’s time to straighten up and walk away.

* * * * *


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If you have a glimpse of the whole picture of history and where we can head (or are heading) as a civilization, you should come away from this read with new insights.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

The Foolishness of a Consumer Society


Do custom-embroidered powder room towels actually make your life better?

If you think so, and if you’re not of the very few who care about towels as an art form, you’re getting your kicks from other people being impressed by you. You’re buying the approval of others… and you’re all being foolish together.

Quality food makes your life better. A reliable car makes your life better. Good medicine makes your life better. Olive spoons do not.

Sadly, much of the Western world, and America especially, has become addicted to status symbols. This has been going on for generations now. When I was a boy people joked about “keeping up with the Joneses,” but the joke was funny only because it was true.

This is an addiction. Yes, it is a cultured addiction – you can barely escape the promotion of it in the modern world – but it’s an addiction nonetheless.

How This Happened

This is what I’ve been told by men considerably older than myself:

World War I was a major turning point for American business. A large number of businessmen got rich at that time, selling all sorts of war materials to the Allies: uniforms, shovels, saddles, guns, ammunition, even horses.

Many people will not remember this, but the US didn’t enter the war until 1917; it had begun in 1914. But American businessmen were enjoying record sales the whole time.

After the war ended in late 1918, things began winding down (winding down a war takes time). They didn’t return to normal quickly, because of a horrendous flu epidemic in 1918 through 1920, which killed millions and not just the very young or old. Still, the plague eventually wound down, leaving businessmen to cope with seriously declining numbers.

It was at that point, my older friends informed me, that big business decided they had to do something about this and get people to buy more stuff than they’d been buying previously: to squeeze more consumption from the same people. And they embarked upon this course with vigor.

Perhaps no public statement on this subject was clearer than one from Paul Mazur, a senior partner at Lehman Brothers, writing in the Harvard Business Review in 1927:

We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.

As is evident from the America of our time, this worked. A huge percentage of things people buy will be sold for pennies on the dollar at their eventual estate sales. They are bought in the hope of imparting some kind of self-esteem, status, or envy, not because they actually improve life.

Now, while I’m picking on things like embroidered towels and olive spoons, we must also acknowledge that a very few people will care about such things for art’s sake… and that’s fine… it is not foolish. But let’s also be honest and admit that such people are few and far between.

Scientific Manipulation

In fairness to American and Western populations, we should add that this change was accomplished with scientific manipulation, which was arising at just this time. One of the major drivers of this was a man named Edward Bernays, who was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He made a lot of money teaching giant corporations to manipulate the public. Here are two quotes from him:

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.

Physical loneliness is a real terror to the gregarious animal, and that association with the herd causes a feeling of security. In man this fear of loneliness creates a desire for identification with the herd in matters of opinion.

There was a concentrated effort to manipulate the minds of millions, to frighten them and to herd them on behalf of the political and financial classes. This was problem enough in the days when people received their news from newspapers, but it was supercharged by television.


Those of us of the West have lived all our lives inside a web of manufactured discontent. We are told to elect political candidates because their opponent is horrible and because things are bad. We are told that we must buy new houses or vacations or a hundred other things, because other people have them and we’ll look bad in comparison. Or that the boy or girl we’re interested in won’t agree to marry us unless we look a certain way, buy a certain ring, or drive a certain type of car. And so on, in hundreds of variations.

All of this is based on the assumption that we are in a deficit position – that the advertised product will somehow fill our deficit.

The fake world – as shown on TV and Facebook – features an endless struggle for empty acquisition and status symbols.

It is foolish to slave away in the service of giant corporations. If we wish to be sensible, we should labor for things that actually make our lives better. And if something is manipulatively advertised, we shouldn’t buy it.

Live for you, not for them.

* * * * *

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  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Facebook Is a Parasite… Even The New York Times Is Admitting It


The Times is only on the story to hurt Donald Trump of course, but they have nonetheless brought it up. And most of the commenters at The Times’ website saw through the ridiculous Blue/Red sideshow. They ignored it and got to the real issues. Here’s one snip:

Can we just say it? Facebook is evil. Its entire raison d’etre is the balkanization of communities and nations in pursuit of financial profit. It monetizes and sells the most intimate details of private human relationships.

Here’s another that gets to the core:

Power in 21st Century comes from influencing people’s choices without their knowledge. Age of mass customization has arrived with weaponizing these techniques.

What the Article Says

In brief, the article notes that Republican donors, through the efforts of someone with connections to the Obama campaigns, hired a company called Cambridge Analytica to produce psychological (“psychographic”) profiles of millions of Americans, in hopes of “using personality profiling to shift America’s culture.”

To do this they obtained detailed Facebook data on 50 million people. And used it.

From there the article descends into minutia. (How they got the Facebook data, whether a Russian person worked at Cambridge Analytica, and so on.)

What the Article Didn’t Say

What The Times left out was that the Hillary campaign did almost the same thing and with the enthusiastic support of Google. And make no mistake, this is the new model for all politicians, and they will not give it up. They’ll just be more careful in the future… that is, if The Times article is of lasting effect. (You can be sure that Facebook will be steering its billion-plus users away from the subject.)

The Parasite Model

Facebook, Google, and all the free services operate as parasites. So do the “discount with card” groceries, etc., etc. All of these operations are pushing you to give them your information, which they will use to manipulate you. And when they’re done manipulating you, they’ll sell your information to others, so they can do the same.

Regardless of how creatively this is justified, it is plainly parasitic.

You Don’t Think the Spies Are in on This?

I wrote a short book with Jonathan Logan explaining how and why the spy agencies are all over this. And as we noted in it, both Google and Facebook have the ability to deeply surveil and manipulate billions of people at once. Any spies who didn’t use this would be abject fools.

Where This Ends Up

Again to be very brief (see the book linked above for details), this ends up where the Chinese are already taking it: rewarding “good” citizens and punishing “bad” citizens.

However covered up and prettied up, this is what serves rulers, and this is what they’ll do to servile people… however long they can.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Free Services Are for Suckers

free services internetJust a few weeks ago, it was revealed that the FBI will be going through a huge stack of emails they stole from a free service, to find some peaceful people they can publicly prosecute. The service was called Tor Mail…and their advertising slogan was Free Anonymous Email.

Supposedly, this system was ironclad and immune from government attacks. And, presumably, the operators would do this very hard thing, forever, and for free. That’s just not rational, regardless of the operator’s intentions.

Nonetheless, a small army of people signed up and used the service. It was free, after all!

Now, they are being burned, and maybe badly. That sucks, and they almost certainly don’t deserve it, but it was also rather predictable.

Free is for suckers. Always has been, still is. Jump at “free,” and you volunteer to pay the piper eventually.

Free Contributions Versus Free Services

There is a fundamental difference between free contributions and free services. Free contributions can be honest, important, and noble.

Phil Zimmerman gave us PGP, Tim Berners-Lee gave us HTTP, and Satoshi Nakamoto gave us crypto-currency. All of these were gifts, for which we should be grateful.

Operating a service, however, is something different:

  • The contribution – the gift – requires a specific and limited expense of time and passion.
  • A service requires daily work, most of it less than exciting. And there is no end to it.

Gifting something to the world is wonderful and deserves our gratitude. There’s nothing wrong with it. Nor is there a real problem with the shareware model, or with a free trial before buying, or the donations model.

Doing the daily grind that is necessary to run a service, however, is something very different. These are not acts of passion; they are acts of determination and endurance. Sure, there can be moments of passion, but an ongoing service requires far more than that. And, any service provider that can’t deal with “grind it out” work doesn’t survive.

The Free Service Game

Right now, free services rule the Internet. Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest… their business model involves getting people to use their systems for free.

But if you use something for free, you are NOT the customer. These companies DO have customers who pay them money, but that’s not you… which means that you are the product!

Let’s not forget what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously texted his friend:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard, just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

Friend: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb f*cks

Anything you run through a free service goes beyond your control, immediately and permanently. These companies are monetizing your life, and the lives of your family and friends. Again, you are the product, and they’re selling you to anyone who will pay.

No one really runs a service for free.

The same thing goes for smartphone apps, by the way. They give them to you for free, or for almost free, and they also sell your life to anyone who will pay. The primary purpose of most apps is to spy on you. Read their privacy statements sometime.

“Nothing Bad Will Happen”

This is said every day, as it has been by more or less all the victims of history. I’m not for walking around in fear of course, but if you grab at “free” products, you are stepping into a trap.

If you don’t know the price in advance, you’ll be charged anyway (in this case, by having your life sold), and you’ll overpay.

And bad things do happen, as they did to Brandon Raub.

Is ‘saving’ a couple bucks really that big a deal?

Paul Rosenberg