The Plutocrat’s Instruments

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Made in China, Rock 'n' Roll at 2:06 pm by George Smith

Today, more ridiculous advertising from the American guitar industry, one among many good examples of inequality, the abandonment of a middle class society, and the shift of domestic manufacturing to lavish goods for the one percent and their still employed white collar servants.

If you follow the rock instrument industry you run into hordes of American men who actually think these things are fine, to be coveted, great artisan examples from America’s top-of-the-heap craftsmen. And if you look for video tours of the Fender Custom Shop, you easily find hagiography in which the people who put together priced-for-the-aristocracy basic electric guitar models designed fifty years ago are called master builders. It’s to laugh bitterly.

Here, the eight thousand dollar Fender telecaster, customized until its original reason as an instrument for the Bakersfield country sound or weekend entertainment in the beach ballrooms of southern California.
Better, follow this link to pricing for crystal pickguards.

Fender is the choice for this lampooning in the Culture of Lickspittle because it is a company that continuously drapes itself in the glories of its decades past history when it no longer has any moral or legitimate connection to it other than the fact that the instruments look the same.

You can say many things about the two wine ads. What you can’t say is that they have something to do with the rock ‘n’ roll, only that the concept and spirit of it is demonstrably dead at Fender. When you’re a music equipment manufacturer passing off 35 dollar bottles of snob wine from Sonoma as something cool you deserve to be put down.

Readers may note that six bottles of said Fender wine cost 80 dollars more than a Fender telecaster, made in China, pictured below.

These advertisements are only small bits from the great national decline: Once justifiably famous businesses, places where things that changed the world for the better were made by everyday people, now corporations focused on making intelligence-insulting and/or idiotic luxuries for the top class who laughably think of themselves as rock n rollers.

Today’s face of American employment, what’s left for you when nothing else is available, the great innovation of crowd-sourced free-lance slave labor. May more soon be welcomed into it.

My account on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, the pay stub after a half day of work.


  1. Chuck said,

    November 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Pretty soon Apple will be spitting out overpriced iPhones without the hindrance of labor on slave wages:


    Guitars can’t be far behind…

  2. Tom Paterson said,

    November 17, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Perhaps this comment looks like recruiter spam as it seems to be being blocked. Last try.

    Fender North America: 19 vacancies

    USA – Corona, CA Health & Safety Specialist
    USA – Corona, CA Maintenance Mechanic (HVAC)
    USA – Corona, CA Production Supervisor/Manager
    USA – Corona, CA HR Generalist
    USA – Corona, CA Design Engineer – Guitar Electronics
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ Director Brand Finance
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ Intercompany Accountant
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ SAP Security Analyst
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ Sr. Financial Analyst
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ Financial Analyst
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ Interactive Designer
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ R&D Project Manager
    USA – Scottsdale, AZ HR Interns
    USA – Field Sales District Sales Manager
    USA – New Hartford, CT VP Manufacturing Operations (Plant Manager)
    USA – New Hartford, CT Material Handler
    USA – Bloomfield, CT Administrative Assistant

    Europe: No vacancies

    So not much for a paint sprayer like me there … I guess I could handle material though.

  3. Tom Paterson said,

    November 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I will persevere. My comment (apparently blocked) was that Fender are advertising 19 vacancies in North America of which only one appears to be for a blue-collar worker. The other 18 posts don’t seem to have much to do with guitar manufacture at all. They have no vacancies in Europe. So who sweeps the floors, sprays the paint, loads the vans? Is it all a fake? How many ordinary US working stiffs did Fender employ in its heyday?

  4. George Smith said,

    November 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I sent a note to you on the nature of the hold on the comments.

    I imagine the floor sweepers and loaders are minimum wage or part time jobs with no benefits plus two “human resources interns” — people to be trained to use software to screen out those they don’t want to hire — interns they may not pay at all or very little.

    “Interactive designer” — one supposes web page and smartphone adverting apps, like the one that sent me the Fender wine thing.

    As you noted, the rest don’t have anything to do with guitars, amps or music, although they’re hiring a few high buttons to handle their financial instruments. Plus an air conditioning tradesman for the building. And Mexico gets two ABAP Developers, business software/mainframe computer programmers.

    Fender doesn’t really have to design much of anything since its success rides on the things all made under the tenure of Leo Fender and his partners, some of whom are now dead and the rest long retired.

    I have a book on Fender and it has a number of photos from various stages of the company in Fullerton up to and including the big CBS expansion. By size alone it employed more people than it does now, including many women working on the production/assembly/wiring lines. There’s no folderol about Master Builders. A number of old ads by a company wishing to sell and promote its stuff to Americans with a love of music and modernity in classic design. .

  5. Tom Paterson said,

    November 18, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Good point about plentiful semi-skilled (hateful term, why did I use it?) jobs for women workers. And even something as simple as the wire had its own back-story, I guess.

    Re lickspittles, I found this key via Wikipedia tho’ the link seems to have vanished now:


    (Useful to recall when they try to blame the victims … which they always do … and to help prevent a victim, like me, from internalising blame.)

    And I thought this perhaps apocryphal 1920s tale was told of Lady Astor (?) addressing a hall of hungry unemployed workers in London’s East End, but I can’t find the source:

    Lady Bountiful (lecturing): … and you can make a most nutritious broth using discarded fish heads and bones.

    Loud voice from back of meeting-hall (sarcastic): Yes, milady, but who ate all the fish?

    As you have noted, readers of your blog don’t *do* FB or Twttr so I was late to the party and read the story (parable?) of the Entrepreneur Coder and the Homeless Man in the printed (UK) Guardian Magazine just a couple of weeks ago (http://gothamist.com/2013/10/14/code_homeless_arrested.php). I once spent some time as a bum (I was young and had a home to go back to so it doesn’t really count). In the summer you could sleep a little & just about got warm by mid-morning (if the sun was shining); in winter it was a case of keep on walking till dawn (if you thought I was drunk then I wasn’t, just hallucinating from the cold) and look out for a bus to jump on … I couldn’t have held a laptop for shivering, let alone type Java. Kafka’s On (bleeding) Parables.

    As for who moved the cheese … who stole my cow and my farm, that’s what I want to know? (Actually, I know already.)

    Anyone else, please don’t be afraid of George … he doesn’t seem to bite; doesn’t he have tuxedo cats? Discussion of the horror of F-AIDS postponed.

  6. George Smith said,

    November 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm


    For some reason that Gothamist link went 404, so I did a search and came up with this.

    The Parable sermon was interesting, especially coming as it did when things were crashing. We live in a modern Dickensian country, the big item yesterday being the news of a Canton, OH, Walmart store holding a food drive for its sales associates.


    The picture alone says it all. Walmart is a company that’s deservedly earned (and earns) a lot of loathsome press. Yet nothing is ever done and conditions never change. One can think of a lot of creative ways in federal, even state, law could be changed to punish a predatory corporation that uses food stamp subsidy of its workers to keep wages down and enhance its bottom line. One could do a calculation of a business based on its payment of such workers, retrieve an estimated number of them, and deduce what their food stamp benefit would be, then hit the firm with a claw-back in the form of a tax plus a large penalty for victimizing its workers. Such money, collected nationally, could be given back to workers by placement in a national fund from which they could extract their share by simply presenting proof of employment at Walmart and a photocopy of their latest SNAP card.
    With a little thought there could be a lot of remedies like this. None of them could ever happen in our world, unfortunately.

    Anyway, from this we can conclude that Walmart management, as opposed to its labor force, consists entirely of sociopaths and that is what they look for when hiring. In fact, we have a national corporate economy, a fascist one, that selects for and elevates sociopaths. It explains why everything continues to turn from bad to worse.

    Since it’s been building for decades, a good portion of the voting populace has now been conditioned to view it as normal, even proper, or worse — to be applauded. This, in turn, explains the malevolent nature of modern America. We do not live in a civil, friendly place, we live in a place where naked hostility is experienced on a daily basis.

    And, yes, tuxedo cats…


    Lily is mine although I don’t live in her abode anymore. (Couldn’t bear to take her out of her home when I moved out.) But I cat-sit there frequently and just spent a week doing so.

  7. George Smith said,

    November 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    In scrounging around a little I found the Walmart claw-back idea has occurred to others, as well, even though there would seem to be little chance of it.


    “The next proposal is more severe: Charge back the amount of public assistance any employee receives to the company he or she works for. It would be separate from tax filings, and simply be a direct penalty charged to the firm. I doubt there is much political will for this proposal, but I can see some people — especially on the Left — supporting it … My politics are pretty middle-of-the-road, and I find myself offended by subsidizing profitable companies this way.”

  8. Tom Paterson said,

    November 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    This is your train-set … I’ll have to get my own layout … but I just have to draw your attention to this one in case you missed it over there:


    No Lennon or Dylan singing for Jordan Blackshaw & Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan.

  9. mikey said,

    November 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    FWIW, “hagiography” sent me straight to the dictionary. Great word choice!

  10. Tom Paterson said,

    November 20, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I read the hagiographies. I felt the brain-slurper attach to my forehead and start sucking. At the first *DNA*, I died a little; at the second, I think I was overcome with despair … I can’t remember. And (for those who spotted the bottle) Newcastle Brown Ale was a strong, cheap, relatively healthy beer to piss up against a wall on a Friday night … you did not drink it with ice (I think you would have risked a righteous beating if you had asked for ice with it).


    DD: I had hoped you wouldn’t let your comment material above go to waste!

  11. George Smith said,

    November 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Yeah, if you hadn’t posted I would never have gotten on to the rant.

    Because it’s an import, Newky’s sold as a bit of a premium here.

    Colt 45 was brought back into the cold case at my local market and at $1.39 for 24 oz. it’s become a select choice. I’ve noticed it goes faster than any of the other misery boosted ales (and I help).

    It certainly beats Night Train, Thunderbird and Cisco which I did comparative tests with about two years ago. And, of course, we do not have Buckfast Tonic Wine in the States.

    For some time many Pasadena stores have had rashes over selling this stuff but now that buying power is so reduced in many patrons, they are a product not to let slip by to competition in the neighborhood. Many seem to believe it promotes drunks hanging out on the pavement of the establishments in the relative center of town, something I’ve never been convinced is a severe problem. In any case, I don’t have sympathy with those into unwritten ordnances for the persecution and making things tougher for beggars and homeless people because one dislikes unpleasant vistas with capitalism.

    BTW, Fender’s master builders dissect Kurt Cobain’s guitars so they can replicate them for the corporate aristocracy (as if you need much skill to take apart the control cavities and look inside at a little wiring):


    All may find this diverting, too, as it chronicles the tale of 200 old white people calling for a revolt to put down tyranny, held in front of the White House. It included one speaker who asserted the NSA had bugged his computer with a virus so sophisticated, the PC was now monitoring him even while unplugged.


  12. Tom Paterson said,

    November 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Colt 45:
    $1.39 for 24 oz., 6.1 % abv
    24/100 * 6.1 = 1.464 fluid ounces of alcohol per can
    1.39/1.464 = 95 cents per fluid ounce of alcohol

    That is cheap …

    I can’t find anyone online in the Zone of the Interior who admits to selling Thunderbird so I have guessed $3.00 a bottle:

    $3.00 for 0.75 L = 25.36 oz.., 18 % abv
    25.36/100 * 18 = 4.5648 fluid ounces alcohol per bottle
    3.00/4.5648 = 66 cents per fluid ounce of alcohol

    /* Here comes a punchline */

    Hey, I don’t trust my arithmetic, isn’t there a bum’s app for this?

    I remember the skin on lips scaling & burning away while drinking fortified wine, and the corners of the mouth becoming sore and bleeding; so the cost of a future gastroscopy has to be part of any cost-benefit analysis. And, of course, there’s more to it than abv … by me vodka is a non-drink, just empty alcohol and no hallucinatory badness.

    The corporate theft of public spaces is maybe a topic for another day.