Corporate control: we see it everywhere. Can any of us be blind to the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude that passes for customer service these days? It’s not just technological advancement that’s resulted in every large corporation greeting our telephoned requests for attention with some digital menu that spins us round in ever decreasing circles, and eventually spits us out, dissatisfied, at the other end.
Not that you’d recognize this utter lack of concern for customer satisfaction from the glossy advertising and blurb that is the staple of all corporate marketing strategy.
Perfectly manicured females, with their photo-shopped smiles, are the norm when we’re being seduced with empty promises of wondrous goods on offer, in exchange for our hard earned dollars. It’s not until the newly acquired washing machine floods the laundry, or the super-size TV puffs smoke from its rear, that we realize this delicious doll is no more than a digital mp4 file droning out monotony down our ear-hole, and leaving us with about as much chance of connecting with a real human being as Kristen Stewart has of winning an Oscar for ‘The Twilight Saga’.
It’s all a result of perfectly acceptable companies growing so huge – often due to take-overs or mergers with larger corporations – that they no longer see the necessity for a personal service. It’s more important to divvy out a few more dollars to the shareholders, than pay a living wage for someone prepared to answer a telephone and provide some genuine customer satisfaction.
“Too big to fail” has become the catchphrase of corrupt politicians and bent Wall Street economists, who realize any such ‘failure’ means they’ll become drastically poorer very quickly. It’s come to signify the awesome power of the banking sector, but applies equally to other, overly-gigantic, corporate establishments.
While corporate and political corruption in so-called ‘Western democracies’ has reached levels on par with dubious African and Eastern European dictatorates, far more disturbing is the degree of control this corrupt association of political and corporate power has unleashed on us – the people.
As competition is swallowed up wholesale by the mighty jaws of corporate monstrosity, not only are we denied choice, but the very way we live our lives and conduct our business is being dictated by those anonymous corporate controllers who have gained the power to decide our future.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the technology/internet industry. Microsoft’s control of the commercial computer operating system market is just one example of we, the people, losing control of our computers. Microsoft dictates how we operate our virtual lives (unless, of course, you’re running a Mac, in which case, it’s Apple).
Then there’s Google. This mammoth’s top man, Larry Page, (worth around $23 billion) is constantly striving to tell us how jealously his company guards our privacy, while doling out our personal information to the US government at the rate of 5,900 instances in 2011, and rising every year. It can be argued that Google’s cooperation with crime fighters helps keep us safe, but it’s a short step from there to spying on all our internet activities. We have no way of knowing if Microsoft, or Google, is recording our website visitations, and where that information may be ending up, but we do know it’s used to benefit the bank balances of other corporations, who pay well for the information.
Google is also dictating our preferences with its software. Only recently we learned ‘Google Reader’ is to be discontinued in favor of its latest creation, ‘Feedly’. Is ‘Feedly’ better equipped to record our RSS interests? Perhaps not, but we have no way of knowing.
It all begs the question: what can we do about it? After all, these corporate monsters are in control and have the politicians in their pockets. It’s not easy, but there are ways. The Achilles heel of all capitalist corporations is their bank balance. We, the people, make them wealthy. Isn’t it time we looked at alternatives?
Whether it’s Walmart or Microsoft, Goldman Sachs or Google, it behooves us to kick them into touch, if we can, and seek out alternatives that might help whittle these behemoths down to a more manageable size. After all, without we, the people, Walmart would still be a struggling grocery store somewhere off main street.
There are alternatives to Microsoft and Google. Linux is still a pain in the butt to install (as I’ve found out to my cost), but it’s getting better all the time, and above all, it’s free! As is all its open source software.
There are now Coop stores in most towns throughout the US, stuffed with fresh organic foodstuffs, and lacking the chemical fertilizers so beloved of Walmart produce. It is more expensive, but with careful shopping the weekly bill may not prove too disastrous to the bank balance, and it’s healthy, nutritious, and great for the environment.
As for Goldman Sachs, and all the many other financial institutions grown fat and wealthy from our hard-earned dollars, the choice is between them and a Credit Union run not-for-profit, with better dividends, virtually no fees, and staff that don’t look down their nose at you when you dare ask them to part with a few of your own dollar bills.
There are times when the monolithic corporations seem much too powerful to ever be thwarted, but it pays to remember that it’s we, the people, that made them that way. Without our money none of them would exist. And, just as we created those monsters we, the people, have the power to shackle them, tame them, and, if necessary, bring them down.
The corporations don’t own this world. We do. Isn’t it time we said enough is enough?