We in the United States regularly accept many situations as normal which are actually offensive to the natural freedom of the human being’s spirit. Corporate domination of society along with the entrepreneurial mind-set has created a culture where humans, nature and even our own future are sacrificed in the name of making money and earning more profits. ‘Take more and only help yourself’ is a value system that is killing the planet.
The so-called “free-market,” which is supposed to be a place where everyone has equal opportunity to succeed, is actually a euphemism for a corporate welfare state that offers advantages to businesses that ordinary people do not have. The free-market philosophy is duplicitous – privately enriching business with the public’s money and backroom dealing, while simultaneously claiming to be a virtuous social system whose only real secret to success is hard work. And if we are not doing well, it’s our own fault.
We have accepted situations until now that have allowed our employers to squeeze every last ounce of time, energy and talent from us in exchange for a moderate wage. Our good nature has been exploited, as we have trusted our leaders and employers to truly have our best interests at heart. But we have been misled and swindled into a real social situation where honest people have nothing while the corrupt few have everything.
I would like to offer the following 13 examples of how our modern corporate capitalist system is abusing us. If we know about them, then we are more likely to overcome them.
1) You are responsible for doing what an employer (corporation) requires, even at the expense of yourself. You work for them. You agree to work by their rules. If they do not provide benefits – too bad. No vacation time? Deal with it. You need the job don’t you? No opportunity for advancement? What else you gonna do? These are our conditions – take it or leave it. They shoot for the low-ball and assume someone will take it. Why do more when you can do less?
2) You pay more than what is expected or advertised. Watch for the small print. Ever see an ad then go to the store and find the deal is not what you expected? A free upgrade for a new phone is not free. They technically may give you something for no charge – and that’s the part that’s touted in the advertising – but then when you do it, there’s an “upgrade fee” or some kind of rate increase on another part of your service. Standard operating procedure is bait and switch. That’s what advertising is all about. Who needs integrity – just get the money!
3) Your schedule or timeline isn’t as important as theirs. You know what this means if your boss has ever required you to stay late and do something extra or risk losing your job. It doesn’t matter what your obligations are at home or whether you have to take care of kids, parents, pets or yourself. If I want to go to the bank on a Monday because it is convenient for me but my bank is closed on Monday (which it is), it doesn’t matter that I expected them to be open because I thought it was a normal business day, I just have to learn and adjust. How about when minimum wage is raised? Everyone wants to get their raise as soon as possible, but that’s not how it works. We have to consider the burden it will make on a business’s bottom line which means we must implement the wage increase over time. Forget our burden of trying to survive over time on a minimum wage, that’s okay, but implement a fair wage right now? Oh geez, how could you be so greedy!
4) The rules and language contradict and confuse you. What’s the difference between oxycodeine, oxycodone and the OxyContin? Did you know that a “direct” airline flight refers not to the actual path the airline travels but to whether the assigned flight number changes in route? So you may actually have to change planes anyway, as long as it has the same flight number. Seem misleading? How about trying understanding medical insurance. As a caregiver for two years for people who must go to the doctor often, I still don’t understand insurance. A lot of people don’t. Insurance is complicated because it is there to serve a business’s bottom line first, you second. You are a means to an end. Once, my wife got fined for paying her credit card bill before it was due. I guess there is a very specific window in which you are supposed to make the payment. Oh, and why do you think there are so many rules and they are written in such a small print? It’s to hide intent and to discourage people from reading them. What about those “notices subject to change without warning” messages we’ve seen in the fine print? That sounds fair! How about “my payment is subject to being withdrawn without notice?”
5) Your information and important items are at risk of being taken. Lack of privacy on cell phones and email, a business asking for social security numbers or asking for you to input your personal information online, and cloud storage are all ways in which we can be at risk of experiencing identity theft or a violation of privacy. How many people’s credit card numbers have been stolen? We use our credit cards everywhere now; think of all the employees who have access to your card number and email. And the ‘cloud’ is a joke. Sure, just upload all of your personal information onto some server somewhere. Come on, trust us. Everybody’s doing it.
6) Everybody sees it happening but accepts it. Most everyone has felt ripped off, betrayed, conned, swindled or strung along by some business. We complain about it all the time – “the system is rigged!” It is. But what have we done about it? “It’s just the way it is” is not acceptable if we want something better. Speak up, reach out, connect, do something you think needs to be done for the greater good of all.
7) Workers smile and speak nice to you while committing injustices upon you. America has customer service down to a science. We will treat you so nice, even as we are telling you no. It’s all about the appearance of things. Acting nice on the surface is all that is needed, even if the person is ripping you off. And now Americans expect their service to be really good. It’s reflected in the advertising, where every company slogan is some version of “making life better.” Focus on the service because as long as we are nice you won’t suspect anything. Wow you must really care about me!
8) We criticize and gossip about each other. Criticism is an epidemic in this society. We have professional critics everywhere and people who think just because they have a lot of knowledge that means the same as having the experience. In other words, by criticizing we take on a confidence level where we give ourselves permission to judge someone else, whether or not we are actually qualified or informed enough to do so. Who cares anyway? Nobody is around to fact-check. Stupid people, you suck!….We want to talk about how bad they are because we can’t acknowledge the weaknesses in ourselves. We criticize others to feel better about ourselves. But why are we taking each other down? How does that make anything better? Oh yeah, life is a competition – we must win at all costs! Capitalism has turned life into a competition, even a competition to get the basics we all need, like food, water, shelter and security. These things are natural human rights, not stuff to compete over. We should be talking about the corruption taking place in our social institutions not about each other’s flaws. No person is perfect, but business is accountable to us.
9) The legal system supports our exploitation. You are held responsible, not them. It is perfectly legal to sell cigarettes, which kill you. We just say it’s your fault for choosing to smoke and thereby shift the burden of proof onto the consumer. Why is it legal to by toxic smoking sticks but illegal to buy marijuana and get stoned? How about our prescription drugs? Why does the law allow a so-called medicine to be sold which causes more side-effects than it does healing? Why is the law not requiring drug companies to work on important public health issues, like finding new antibiotics? Instead, companies are making up diseases and then selling pills at outrageous prices for these fictional ills. Why does the law prohibit natural remedies but allow prescription drugs? Or how about taxes? Why is it that we all know that tax loopholes for wealthy individuals and corporations are being utilized to make billions and give an unfair advantage to these people, but we do nothing about it? How is that fair to us? Here’s something unfair – arbitration. That is the new legal procedure for consumers to address their grievances against corporations. It’s in the small print of your contracts. Arbitration is different than suing a company in court and letting a jury decide. Instead, arbitration is a panel of legal “experts,” often composed of individuals selected by the company itself, who discuss the grievance with you in place of a judge. Where did this come from? Arbitration panels are so corporate-friendly by nature, that this is a clear tactic for companies to pay less claims and take less responsibility for their wrong actions. It’s really just a more complicated process intentionally set up to delay the addressing of grievances and tilt the advantage away from the consumer.
10) You are limited in what you can do by excessive security. Assume everyone is a terrorist. Surrender now – everyone must comply! We have guns….Even though on a global scale it’s really the people in high places who are making decisions that piss off other people in other countries, the average person is the one who suffers. How many world leaders have been killed by secret campaigns of the CIA? I have nothing to do with any of it, except that it has been done secretly in my name, as an American, and now because people want to take revenge for what we did to them I have to be treated like a terrorist at the airport, courthouse, concert and other public events – TSA agents see me naked but I can’t even bring water on the plane. Cops are killing innocent people everywhere (also helping) thinking everyone is a potential terrorist. This is not right. Fear is not freedom.
11) Employees and other insiders know the injustices being committed but carry on as if it were not an injustice. How many whistle blowers with inside knowledge could have spoken up but chose not to? How many drug company executives knew about shady practices but said nothing? How many people have seen toxic waste dumping? Bribery? Blackmail? Extortion? Intentional Deception? Any of these and more that have caused people to die? It has famously been said by Albert Einstein, and others, that the real injustice in life is that good people look on and do nothing. I know there are a lot of good people out there who want to do the right thing, but thinking of the right thing and taking action to do the right thing are totally different.
12) You’re made to expect one thing while being given another. It’s the old bait-and-switch. You could easily be duped by the small print, lured-in by slick advertising and lofty promises, or outright swindled. In some establishments, integrity is paramount, while in others it’s all about cutting corners to make more money. But as consumers we have to always beware of the swindlers, and therefore on the whole we are suspicious of everybody. Dishonest or misleading business practices actually make life worse for all of society and for the people who they don’t even do business with, taking the term ‘it’s all about me’ to new heights.
13) You are made to feel powerless and forced to accept the system. Ever hear these phrases: “It’s just the way it is”; “That’s life!”; “There’s nothing you can do about it!”; “Life’s unfair”. Those are some of the most disempowering phrases that are everywhere repeated by individuals who feel powerless to change the way things are. We’ve come to accept our limited freedom as just the way it is.
Take action to achieve a better world for all and the world will change. They’ve got the guns but we’ve got the numbers.