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American, Psycho

July 12, 2010

I don’t usually care for “human interest” pieces because the authors of those pieces usually fail to take the crucial step of actually examining what makes any given subject interesting in the first place.  But this profile of the founder of Essay Writing Company (a controversial company that pays independent contractors to write an essay or term paper for you for a fee) lays out enough facts that a reader can easily infer that Jordan Kavoosi’s business model is a microcosm of American business and culture.  The story is replete with contemporary American themes such as anti-intellectualism, raw efficiency, externality costs imposed on innocent third parties, brutally imbalanced bargaining between employer and employee, personal smear tactics used by the powerful to suppress professional opposition, and real consumer demand for a product that though beneficial in the short run is terribly costly and destabilizing in the long run.  You should be able to fill in the blanks from there.

“Sure it’s unethical, but it’s just a business,” Kavoosi explains. “I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved.”

A few years ago, Kavoosi walked into a tattoo parlor and asked to get the Chinese character for “self-discipline” on his left forearm, which he thought was an accurate description of his life, he explains.

He went back to his job at Dairy Queen. It was there that a customer took notice of the tattooed symbol. She asked Kavoosi if he knew what it meant.

“Yeah,” he replied, “self-discipline.”

“No,” the customer corrected. “It means ‘deceptive.'”

Skeptical that this is a true microcosm of the American psyche?  What about the fact that nearly 40% of 18-29 year-olds weren’t certain what the heck we were celebrating on the Fourth of July?  What about Fox News’ call to shut down public libraries, claiming the expense that might be better used to fund police pensions?

They eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars. It’s money that could be used to keep your child’s school running. So with the internet and e-books, do we really need millions for libraries?

Yeah, why have institutional forces actually curating, encouraging, and available for the act of reading, research if you can have the Essay Writing Company do it for you?  Couldn’t all this money we’re spending encouraging free thought be better used to support the existing power structure within the state?  Or at least allow us to more efficiently allocate our thought processes toward more enjoyable, palatable and soothing forms of entertainment for the masses to enjoy rather than stuffy and inapplicable intellectual exercises?

After all, this system of allowing the unfettered pursuit of happiness has worked out pretty well so far, hasn’t it?  If you think it hasn’t, thinking that people don’t always know or act in ways that are the best for them in the long run, surely you some kind of communist!  After all, all that happiness that people get from information that hasn’t been charged for is consumer surplus, and we can’t have too much of that lying around now can we?  It’s inefficient!  Go and share your intellects and ideas, rather than trying to make money off them like any decent, red-blooded Ammurican.

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