Daily Archives: July 26, 2010

Arianna Huffington and Tony Robbins, a match made in snake-oil hell

I used to like Arianna Huffington. I had thought that it was great that a woman who had been married to a filthy rich closeted conservative Repugnican Californian politician and had been rolling in the dough decided to switch teams and trumpet the progressive cause.

If memory serves, I even considered voting for her when she ran in the circus-like California gubernatorial recall election in 2003.

Now, though, Arianna makes me want to vomit.

First of all, I still can’t get over the fact that she doesn’t pay her website’s (The Huffington Post’s) writers. She claims to be a progressive, but paying those who are making you money absolutely nothing is not an item on the progressive agenda.

Huffington notes that she has an upcoming book titled Third World America in which she laments “the millions of middle-class Americans who are suddenly finding themselves without a job, or without a home, or without the possibility of giving their children a better future.”  

Presumably, there is no mention in Third World America of the starving writers who are about to be evicted because The Huffington Post doesn’t pay its contributors a fucking penny.

“By the end of the book, I found myself consumed with identifying practical solutions and sources of help that those struggling could use right away — instead of anxiously waiting for government to act. And I recognized that it all starts with each individual’s inner strength and resilience,” Huffington continues.

Gee, somehow I doubt that Arianna’s self-reported “[consumption] with identifying practical solutions and sources of help [for] those struggling” led her to decide to start paying her writers. No, they’ll just have to rely on their “inner strength and resilience,” which probably won’t pay the rent but sure will keep Arianna rolling in the dough while she blames her writers’ lack of “inner strength and resilience” for their own personal misfortune.

Huffington recently ran a typically baby-boomerian self-indulgent series about how to sleep better at night. Maybe if she weren’t such a colossal fucking hypocrite and just another fucking greedy, self-serving baby boomer (redundant…), Arianna could sleep at night.

And now, Huffington has aligned herself with the freakish self-appointed self-improvement movement snake-oil salesman Tony Robbins, whose only actual lifetime accomplishment, that I can see, is to bilk trusting, desperate people of their money with his promises that if they just change their thoughts, their lives magically will become something like the end of a Disney movie.

The positive-thinking movement has been debunked thoroughly. Barbara Ehrenreich tackles the subject well in her book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. If you really want to do yourself a favor, read Ehrenreich’s book and wean yourself from the self-help snake oil forever.

There are two main problems with the positive-thinking industry (and “industry” is appropriate, since it makes unscrupulous assholes millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars a year) that I can see right off the bat:

First of all, no amount of positive thinking is going to change actual problems. Positive thinking won’t reverse global warming or bring back species that have become extinct because of humankind’s stupidity, short-sightedness and greed. Positive thinking won’t stop the political and financial corruption that have pushed the American empire to the brink of collapse. No, positive thinking very most likely won’t cure your terminal cancer, either.

There is no substitute, unfortunately, for doing the incredibly hard work that is required to reverse our problems, and some problems have gone on for so long that they no longer are reversible, and rather than remaining in denial over these problems, we need to find acceptance of them if we no longer can bargain our way out of them. (The experts, for instance, say that climate change is inevitable, given the amount of greenhouse gases that already are trapped in the atmosphere, and that at this point we need to focus on adapting to the inevitable climate changes as well as trying to prevent even further damage by curbing the emission of greenhouse gases. And there is a point in the course of terminal cancer in which the cancer no longer can be cured, if it ever could have been cured at all, for instance.*)

Secondly, when people are told that they should be able to change their lives miraculously — and then they find out that they can’t — they either can conclude that they were sold a load of horseshit (which they were) or they can conclude that they are somehow defective because the promised miracles didn’t materialize for them — you know, because they just didn’t have enough “inner strength and resilience” (which the self-appointed self-help gurus are all too happy to have their victims believe).

Unfortunately, too many overly trusting, easily duped individuals are going to fall into the latter camp. But the self-appointed self-help gurus don’t care; they already got their money!

The fact is that no one has “the secret.” And those who claim that they do only want to rob you.

There are no fucking shortcuts, and magical thinking will get you nowhere.

If you’re down and out, the last thing that you should do is to be taken in by the miracle peddlers or self-improvement sharks who only want to feed on what’s left of your carcass.

Tony Robbins has reappeared only to make himself some more money pushing his defective product, and until Arianna Huffington starts actually paying the people who are making her money and keeping her in the lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed when she was with her ex-husband, her claims of being a progressive fall on my big fat deaf ears.

One small step that we can take right now to improve our lot is to stop giving a fucking penny** to thieves like Arianna Huffington and Tony Robbins and their bilking ilk.

See? I’m a self-help guru, too!

Only I don’t want a penny from you.

*My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law recently died of breast cancer. Because she was in denial over her terminal prognosis, she gave tens of thousands of dollars to “alternative therapy” snake-oil salesmen, money that would have better been left to her two children she left behind. She died anyway, but the fraudsters laughed all the way to the bank. 

Maybe we can say she died because she just didn’t think positively enough.

**Which includes, of course, not working for them for free.

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