Market Intelligence by Rudy Descas

HUNGARY. Budapest. Szechenyi thermal baths. 1997.

Martin Parr, Budapest, Szechenyi thermal baths, 1997. Source:

“So this Senator’s son runs a corporate training development and implementation business—they create slick interactive slideshows, the kind that large corporations force their workers to watch at their desks for a few hours every year, what Human Resources calls mandatory compliance training. And if the workers don’t sit there, watch the slides, and take the little quizzes along the way, the compliance system sends an alert to their boss who’ll be forced to tell them in person, hey, this is mandatory, so, for real, sit down and watch it and take the quizzes or I can’t sign off on your next paycheck. Companies make their workforce do a bunch of these each year, depending on the worker’s role, things like how to avoid fraud, waste, and abuse; how to avoid sexual harassment lawsuits; how to promote diversity in the workplace; how to handle awkward conversations.”


“So the latest and greatest training module that the Senator’s son’s company created is called “How to Deal With a Hostile Intruder.” What to do if a nut with a gun rushes into the office and starts shooting. Thousands of people across not just this state but the country have to sit there, learn what to do at work if someone comes in shooting, and pass a quiz about it so they can keep their jobs. And this Senator is a big-time gun-rights supporter. Gets high marks from the NRA, an A-plus loyal guard-dog in their book, always there for a photo op with veterans and cops, always happy to fight off legislative threats to the gun business and shame the opposition. On the Fourth of July, or the anniversaries of D-Day and 9-11, there he’ll be with his media team in high gear.”


“Well, that’s pretty much it. The NRA works with gunmakers who in turn run dozens of small and large businesses that profit off gun culture in the U.S. and around the world. It’s just like any other industry of the same size and scale, like big oil or big tobacco. They’re invested in support groups for gun violence survivors, mental and behavioral health trauma care, magazines that are pro- and anti-gun, they’ve got clothing lines, conferences, gun shows, youth groups, church groups, voter registration drives, police union outreach, in every corner of social media, supported by thousands of lawyers who protect these businesses via direct or indirect ties to the deep pockets of the gun lobby in D.C., which is working 24-7 to keep this global thing making as much money as possible. You don’t even want to know about foreign sales.”

So the Senator’s son did what?

“Nothing. He’s just good at making cheap, effective slideshows that sell really well, because the Senator is of course tight with the biggest corporations in the state. Everyone’s afraid of gun violence, in every little town and huge city, people are worried about their kids at school and on the street and workers know they could, and do, get shot at the office or on the factory floor. This lone-wolf terrorist thing, domestic or foreign, or even if it’s just some guy pissed-off about his job or something he thinks a woman did to him or he just can’t stand his life—fear of that guy is pure gold to the NRA and their diversified businesses, it’s fucking platinum. And the Senator’s son has developed the primo interactive module about “How to Deal With a Hostile Intruder.” The good people working for the billion-dollar corporations in the Senator’s state are of course scared of this shit, too, and it’s good for their businesses in more ways than one if they buy the module his son developed: not only does it show their employees they care, they also get more attention and faster answers from the Senator when their CEOs contact his office if they encounter any new potential threat to their profit margins.”

So you know the corporations lobbying him all bought the son’s module. That could just be coincidence.

“Exactly. I mean those corporations are just taking care of their employees, right? Safety in the workplace is paramount. They want people to feel safe and work hard. And it’s not like the boards of directors of all these corporations are in a good position to tell the Senator, hey, you know, you should stop supporting gun culture so much. All this death, it’s freaking people out, even our employees. Stop making it so easy for the NRA to do this, and please, sir, quit posing for pictures every other week with cops and veterans like there’s a war going on. No. If the Senator acting gung-ho earns him cash from the gun lobby that keeps him in office—a political reality these corporations must be able to leverage no matter who’s in office—they’re not going to risk losing any competitive advantage in the regional marketplace to one of the big national carriers, who are always looking to cash in on the potential in the Senator’s state. They’re going to spend whatever it takes to get the Senator’s help the same way he helps the NRA. Because these are well-respected regional carriers, trusted corporate citizens trying to deliver good products and keep premiums low.”

Ah, so this is—

“Health care. Yes. Health insurance. Actually the allied interests of a consortium of health insurance companies.”

Not that I heard this from you.

“Right. Because really all anyone has to do is look to see this going on. And it could just be coincidence, just the cost of doing business in the States.”

Rudy Descas