Snapper-uppers get to suck up what they suffer for believing what the press say about snapping stuff up

“Snapping up” is a term that particularly tweaks this writer’s irritation nodes. Per the Cambridge English Dictionary, “snap up” means to buy or get something quickly and enthusiastically because it is cheap or exactly what you want. The operative words are ‘cheap’ and ‘quickly’. Snapping-up is clearly something you’d expect people to do in a store sale or at a car boot.

These days, though, snapping up takes place largely in stories in the property, business and finance media, where the commodities being acquired with alleged haste and enthusiasm are the opposite of ‘cheap’. We’re talking homes, cars, old masters and other repositories for the cash of the ultra-wealthy.

Nor, when the stories are hyping investments in obscure, unproven (but nevertheless ‘revolutionising’) products or start-ups, can the things said to be being snapped up be described accurately as being ‘exactly what the buyer wants’ … unless the buyer is so rich they’re not concerned about the risk that their snap investment will soon become devalued and illiquid.

A Google news search on ‘snapping up’ produced just one story in the first page of results where the use of the phrase matched the context – a piece about bargain hunting for cheap frocks in High Street summer sales.

All the other hits were about multi-million dollar homes, multi-million dollar footballers, multi-million dollar business deals and multi-thousand dollar vehicles. Indeed, is there a talented footballer left on the planet who’s been merely signed by or purchased from a club, rather than snapped up?

To some extent, this is simply language evolving. Snap up could possibly turn into another slang synonym for purchase, like ‘cop’ in UK English or ‘grab’. And you could also argue that journalists are only trying to inject a note of excitement into copy about topics covered dozens of times every day.

But there’s also something mendacious about the relentless application of a phrase to situations where what’s happening is the opposite of the phrase’s meaning.

For example, you can bet your sweet bippy that Oprah Winfrey’s extremely astute acquisition of 10 per cent of Weight Watchers in 2015 bore none of the hallmarks of “snapping up” the shares as described in the piece in the link. Her move was very carefully thought-out and stealthily executed so as put $58 million of Weight Watchers shares in her hands before anyone found out about it, since it was obvious the share price would climb immediately the company had the power and reach of her TV brand behind it.

Nevertheless, dozens of stories trot out the line that Oprah ‘snapped up’ WW as if she woke up one morning, looked at thousands of unemployed greenbacks strewn across her bedroom carpet, had a flash of inspiration and then knocked over the night stand in her haste to call her broker.

Likewise, only a minority of the people supposedly snapping up crypto currencies, Florida beach-front properties or timeshares (remember them?) are scurrying to make a quick purchase of something that is – because they are well-placed and can afford to take risks with their ample wealth – cheap by their standards.

Many ordinary investors cash-in laboriously-acquired savings, investments and pensions to keep up with those whom the media describe as ‘snapping up’ these apparent bargains. And that’s the key to the mendacity of using the phrase snap up. It allows journalists to get away with implying that a particular commodity is cheap and in heavy demand whether that is true or not.

It’s the MSM’s preferred way of lying: by implication and by omission.

So just as the answer to any headline framed as a question is probably “no”, the one thing you can be sure of when you read about people snapping up homes or vintage wines or whatever is that the window for making real money has already closed.

95% of the snapper-uppers won’t make money or will lose out.

When you read of snapper uppers who actually did make a killing, like Oprah, you’re reading retrospective stories about the 5% – the ones who got in under the radar ahead of the game, before the business media presstitutes started bigging-up the so-called opportunity on behalf of the same first movers.

Whenever you see the words snapping up in a press article, go back to the beginning and prepend the article with the phrase “Dear sucker”.

Anyway, that’s enough for today. Down the road, our local supermarket is selling beautiful, ripe, large Costa Rican pineapples for 49 pence apiece. That price is a travesty if you’re a Costa Rican pineapple grower but, as time-limited bargains go, it is both absolutely and relatively cheap, and I do love fresh pineapple.

Will we see stories about people in England snapping up pineapples, though? No – because in this case they’d be true.

Russiagate, Truthism and the Big Lie

A lie silly story, repeated often enough, becomes a kind of truth. Hence the inescapable ‘truth’ that Vladimir Putin hacked the 2016 US election on behalf of Donald Trump.

You hear it every day in the right wing media. Never mind the unhealthily-close relationship between these outlets’ proprietors and the military wing of global corporate capital, which really, really needs to portray Russia as a scary bogeyman so it can justify its metastasising demands for bigger arms budgets.

You hear it in the left wing media. They can’t believe the voters rejected HC – as bought-and-paid-for a corporate tool as Obama but sadly lacking his eye- and ear-appeal – all by themselves. And that voters rejected, by extension, the cosmopolitan liberal elites’ peculiar brand of snowflakey, virtue-signalling identity politics.

What’s the word for a silly story that takes on a casual resemblance to a fact with the help of repetition? A ‘truthism’ perhaps. You know it’s happened when you hear, say, John Humphrys on the today programme say something like, “Well we now know that Russian interference in the US election apparently influenced the outcome.”

That’s how Truthism is done. The ‘now’ in “We now know that …” implies that solid evidence of Russian interference has been laid bare since the election – although nothing of any kind has actually been turned up barring a few Facebook ads from Russia-based accounts, which addressed issues not candidates and which almost nobody in the US even saw.

Similarly, while the word ‘apparently’ confers a tone of impartiality, it serves to reinforce the preceding Truthism (i.e. that Russian interference was substantial, not merely a silly story) by immediately shifting attention to whether it affected the election result.

”Like any orthodoxy worth its salt, the religion of the Russian hack depends not on evidence but on ex cathedra pronouncements on the part of authoritative institutions and their overlords.”
(LRB 4 January 2018)

What America really needs is a genuine Emperor’s New Clothes moment where some wholesome, freckled, toothy kid in a baseball cap pipes up: “Hey everyone, there ain’t no Russkis! We just ended up being given a choice between two utterly grotesque presidential candidates and we elected the simple-bad one when we were supposed to pick the smart-bad one!”

The next best thing would be for some publications on both sides of the political spectrum to start laying Russiagate to rest. In the UK, at least, the London Review of Books’ first issue of 2018 has deftly unpicked Russiagate in a piece entitled What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking.

Russiagate Truthism is likely to prove counter-productive, not because it is propaganda but because it is bad propaganda. Even not-very-switched-on people don’t feel they’ve seen any proof of the interference. Despite being assiduously pushed by the mainstream media, Russiagate risks making the governments of the UK and US (do any other countries care about it?) look ridiculous.

Good Lord, how cheap is America these days?

How deep do your pockets need to be to get a 100-plus million Americans to buy-into your product?

Here’s a little table of US adverting budgets from 2015 to help you answer that:

  • Procter & Gamble Co – $4.3 billion
  • AT&T – $3.9 billion
  • General Motors Co. – $3.5 billion
  • Comcast Corp. – $3.4 billion
  • Verizon Communications $2.7 billion
  • Ford Motor Co. $2.7 billion

Or, from 2017:

  • “Russia” (apparently) – $100,000

The cheek of those danged Rooskies! Seems they stole the 2016 US election from Saint Hillary by splurging forty thousand times less on advertising than P&G needs to dispense to maintain soap powder sales.

If we’re to believe the narrative the US deep state is furiously peddling, then Trump owes his elevation to the White House solely to a minuscule amount of fiendishly-clever Facebook advertising taken out by shadowy actors linked to the Russian state.

Presumably, the skies between Madison Avenue and Red Square are already filled with planeloads of US corporate marketeers, all scrambling to get the Russians to tell them how to buy their fellow countrymen’s brand loyalty for peanuts.

As a narrative, this week’s developments take the Russiagate meme way down below farce and ridicule to whatever the name is for the roiling stew of propagandising lunacy the mainstream media exists to feed us.

It’s unbelievable that apparently intelligent people would give any credence to this mendacious bullshit. But they do. Yesterday’s edition of The Daily Zeitgeist podcast dropped its usual tone of cynical absurdism to report straight-faced the central claim that “the Kremlin got to 126 million Americans via Facebook” last year, and – yes, the host actually said these words – “changed the course of American history.”

All this would be as funny as the idea that Michael Fallon resigned as UK Defence Minister solely because of ‘kneegate’ if it wasn’t for the likely deadly consequences of the Imperial Elite tearing into itself like a pack of wolverines in a sack.

The fury of those who thought they’d bought and paid-for Clinton’s coronation over the last 20 years, only to have it snatched away from them by the voters, is palpable from thousands of miles away. Like the little Austrian corporal calling down total destruction on the population for not delivering his megalomaniac vision, 70 years ago, the last people the elites will blame is themselves.

We’re merely voters. Our rulers can and will try to throw our rights and freedoms under the bus if they become sufficiently scared-of or angry at the citizenry. While the media focuses on using Russiagate to crowbar the elected president from the White House (however you feel about Trump), the crunching and sawing noises you hear from backstage are the sound of free expression being undermined to save us from ‘fake news’ and the chance to think critically for ourselves.

On the other hand, if I cashed in my modest pension balances, I reckon they’d total the equivalent of a hundred thousand bucks.

What’d be more fun to buy with that? An annuity? Or a superpower that’s badly lost its way?