Evil GE Uses Socialist Yip Harburg to Sell Its Lies

You've heard of pre-emptive strikes. Now welcome to the era of pre-emptive co-optation.  That's the kindest word for what millions of viewers heard during the 2009 Superbowl, when GE used the work of the Great Depression's most famous songwriter to sell its myths about prosperity.  


In its first Superbowl ad since 1981, GE riffed on the classic, the Wizard of Oz, to make the case that if America updates its power-grid we will see brighter days ahead. With Yip Harburg's "If I Only Had a Brain" playing in the background, the ad closes with the Scarecrow walking off into the sunset toward a radiant city on a yellow brick road

What viewers may not know is that Harburg was a committed socialist who spent three years in South America opposing US involvement in the First World War. He was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist and was best known for his depression era anthem, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"

That song, which was all about the cheating of the American worker by the bosses, begins, "They used to tell me I was building a dream..." and ends with the refrain: "Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?"

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