We the Corporations, In Order to Form a More Perfect Profit…

23 Jan

That doesn’t sound quite right.

Eleven score and fifteen years ago, our forbearers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in greed, and dedicated to the proposition that most should toil for the bottom line while few profit mightily.

Still off, isn’t it?

Ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company!

Okay, I suspect you get the picture. Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of companies? The two ought not be mutually exclusive, but which has primacy? When laws are made and cases decided, where does the privilege lie? One look at the shrinking middle class, the power of the lobby, and corporate greed even in the face of shameful behavior nearly toppling the economy gives us the sad answer.

The highest court in the land ruled not just that companies were effectively people, but that they had even more powerful rights to anonymously influence our elections. People run for office without any understanding of minimum wage, proudly pushing unfunded tax cuts while dodging their own taxes.

You have meddled with the Primal Forces of Nature!

When one of the few truly liberal journalists in the country suddenly announced that he was terminating his show, people widely assumed it was because of the new corporate masters. Our media certainly are not left-wing, but, other than FOX, few are aggressively right-wing. They are a strange mix of sinister timidity because they are driven by corporate desire for profits. We are truly living out Mr. Jensen’s dream.*

The bread-and-circuses media and the crumbling educational system leave us stultified and ill-prepared, little better than yahoos, distracted by shiny baubles while living miserable, petty lives.

So what can one person do in the face of these pressures? Hit them in the bottom line. Don’t spend money at places who use that money against your best interests. Pay attention to where you shop and what it means in the bigger scheme of things. Just as the accumulation of votes, one citizen at a time, elects our leaders, the reduction of profits, one refused purchase at a time, puts pressure on the corporations.

It takes time and effort to learn what corporations are up to. It takes some fortitude and a little sacrifice to give up a favorite store. It also takes compromise, since like people, corporations are seldom all good or all bad. Besides the usual suspects like Wal-Mart, find out which corporations spend against civil rights and don’t give them your money. (Are you listening Chik-Fil-A, Target, McDonald’s, Gold’s Gym?) Look at the regular business practices of the companies you patronize and shop accordingly. Does a retailer abuse employees just to run big sales around the holidays? Go somewhere else!

It’s easy to feel resigned, that one person’s efforts are meaningless. But the actions of a single person, living with integrity, accumulate. We can only be powerful together if we choose to be powerful individually.

*  Just for fun, I searched Google for “olbermann mad as hell” just for the past 24 hours and found over 44,000 hits. Coincidence? I think not.

6 Responses to “We the Corporations, In Order to Form a More Perfect Profit…”

  1. Will S. January 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Fantastic work. Love it.

  2. rhulshofschmidt January 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Thanks. I had one of those moments of delightful clarity where the whole story just fell together. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. webwordwarrior January 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Great post! Sadly, I’ve never seen Network. Given this great clip, I’ll have to remedy that. I try to practice responsible shopping, insofar as my community will permit. Thanks for encouraging me to try harder.

    • rhulshofschmidt January 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Thanks, Lex. I’m glad you found the post inspiring. I strongly encourage you to watch Network. It has some of the best dialogue ever filmed. Let us know what you think.

  4. Jay January 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    It would be helpful if there was an affirmative list of national retailers, where people can shop with a clear, or mostly clear, conscience. I would guess Safeway, Amazon, and Kroger are okay, for example. The private sector is more than a necessary evil–acknowledging responsible businesses and their practices is nearly as important as pointing out the wrong-doers.

    Along a similar vein, Olbermann’s departure was not necessarily nefarious. KO’s eight year run at MSNBC was the longest of his career, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he took the initiative in wanting out. His contract buy-out includes non-disclosure and non-compete clauses, so Keith won’t be dishing the juicy details, or starting a new show, for at least a few months. But I wager he’ll be back–on CNN, or possibly on Oprah’s new network–in time for the next election cycle. And with a contract reportedly worth $30 million over four years, and time now to write a book, KO is certainly not your typical middle-aged lay-off victim.

    • rhulshofschmidt January 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

      A comprehensive list sure would be nice. There are links in the holidy shopping story (linked in this post) to the best resources I could find. Yes, Amazon and Kroger are pretty good, as are Starbucks and Costco.

      I agree that Olbermann’s departure was not entirely surprising, if abrupt, and may have been at least partly of his own desiring. I just found it odd how quickly the noise machine assumed the Comcast merger had something to do with it.

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