The secret deals which shaped our lives

What happened was that “big businesses got together to make sure your light bulb wouldn’t last, you’d always want a newer car, and you’d always go back on a diet.”

“Investigative reporter Jacques Peretti reveals the private business deals that shaped the tech business, the pharmaceutical industry, and diet industry. In The Deals That Made the World, he reveals how a secret meeting in Geneva in 1932 created a plan to make the light bulb obsolete. He also writes how one pharmaceutical exec’s dream became reality after the pharmaceutical industry marketed drugs to healthy people.”

The great light bulb conspiracy:

The light bulbs that illuminate our homes, offices, and streets come with a shelf-life and that’s thanks to a secret cartel deal made by the electric industry in the early 20th century, Peretti reveals.

The Centennial Bulb, known as the world’s longest-lasting light bulb, was created in 1901 and has continued to burn for 117 years. A seemingly everlasting light, it was the ideal product to the consumer, but quickly recognized as a threat for business.

How Chevrolet’s boss made you want a new car every year:

Planned obsolescence took a step further decades later during the Cold War, when businesses went after marketing techniques deeply rooted in human psychology.

Big businesses decided they needed to ‘reboot the credibility of consumerism in the minds of the consumer’ after they realized the risk that came with shoppers knowing that what they were buying would eventually break.

By the 1950s, the CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. found a way to upgrade a model of a car by making changes ‘so novel and attractive’ that it would create an ‘amount of dissatisfaction with the past models as compared to the new one’ — meaning buyers wouldn’t wait for it to stop working to want a new one.

If you’re obsessed with losing weight, thank this struggling insurance executive:

It was a deal that salvaged the career of Louis Dublin, a statistician working at insurance agency Metropolitan Life in New York in 1945, and subsequently changed the way we look at dieting and food.

Dublin had been falling behind on his numbers when he discovered how his customers’ weight hugely impacted health premiums. He realized he could charge policy holders more by lowering the threshold weight at which they’d be categorized as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ — which in turn would raise their health risks.

How the drug industry successfully sold medication to healthy people:

Similar to the diet industry, drug companies learned they could capitalize on the fear or panic of common people, and in the last 20 years, the percentage of adults in the U.S. taking prescription drugs more than doubled.

But according to Peretti, this was not due to an influx of illnesses and disease.

In the 1980s the six pharma giants had hit a wall after the postwar boom – the first time in 150 years – after Valium, the brand name of benzodiazepine diazepam, was under threat …