Tag Archives: Corporate personhood

Big Business, Big Religion, or Status Quo

The choices look like they’re boiling down to three right now, Romney represents wealthy business interests, Santorum speaks for conservative Christians, and Obama, the known entity that not many are super stoked about. It looks like another race heading into the “not voting for _______” (fill in the blank with objectionable politician) instead of being proud to vote for our preferred candidate.  This is a terrible position for a politician to be in, it means that their best traction comes only as a knee jerk response to an opponent. There is no inspiration, only revulsion.  As was demonstrated in George Lakoff’s book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, you cannot successfully run against an entity by only calling attention to that entity. Or, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Just try it now, do not think of an elephant. I’ll bet you failed. The fact is that when we were itty-bitty kiddies, we learned “elephant” at some point, probably through a cheerful picture or visit to the zoo. When you learn the word elephant in this country (where elephants do not roam around), we strongly tie this noun to an image of an elephant. We memorize the greyness, the long nose, the big ears, all of the distinctive features at the same time that we hear the word and later learn to read the word.As parents we repeat these simple lessons multiple times to insure our children can identify their animals, words, and sounds. All of our senses coordinate our visual, audio, and cognitive information and file them in the same folder. Later, every time we hear the word “elephant”, it does not matter what words surround it, we will briefly recall our own generic image of “elephant” that we have on file. Just adding the word “don’t”, “no”, “bad”, “crazed” or any other word will not prevent us from first recognizing and acknowledging the animal as we know it. Continue reading

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Obama backs Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Citzens United may have already overstayed its welcome. After the first anniversary of this ruling, politicians are finding out how limitless, unlimited corporate contributions can be. When you want to control the figurehead of the corporate superpower, turns out a whole lot of money starts flowing. RawStory reports that $40 million has already been spent on negative campaigning against Obama, $30 million more has just been raised and quotes Obama’s campaign, “Meanwhile, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and others have joined together to raise almost a half billion dollars, again for one singular purpose: to defeat the president in November”. Finally I think it is sinking in to some politicians how ridiculous these money piles are, especially when they buy nothing but vitriol and further division among our people. When our economy is in such a state, the glaring contrast between the glossed over slime of slick TV ads and the desperation for employment to cover basic needs is nauseating. Continue reading

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The Best Buy – Consumers Activate!

Customer service todayPolitics are not just about candidates and elections, political impact reaches into the fabric of our lives – into our jobs, homes, bedrooms, relationships, consumer choices, even our uteruses. Sometime it can be difficult to see the link between a decision in Washington and the way it manifests in our lives. Using a figurative zoom lens – like the one described yesterday – can help. Here is a personal, real world experience in which I draw a parallel to the current business/political climate and get good results. It’s a bit of self advocacy.

I have had a few recent unpleasant experiences with large corporations that perhaps you can relate to. It goes like this: I research a product, make a choice and fork over my dollars to purchase said product. There is some issue with the product and so, to resolve that issue I attempt to get assistance with the company. At this point in my customer experience, customer service is only a myth of yesteryear; I only get phone trees, online customer forums, and multiple automated messages assuring me of how much the corporation appreciates and cares about me. I am only rarely able to speak to a human at all and if I do find a human, that human has no power or interest in helping me with my product issue.  Meanwhile I spend hours on the phone growing more and more frustrated, wondering what has happened to the motto, “the customer is always right”. Mention that to any financially successful business in the U.S. and it will probably be followed by gales of laughter.  Humans and humanity have been subtracted from the world of business; profits over people rule the day.

In my most recent case of making a purchase from Best Buy, I purchased a laptop online. Though I was told dozens of times how important my business and calls were to them – by a recorded voice – I was only able to find a human that could actually help me after a month of trying. They did not send the laptop and gave no indications that they would send the laptop.  Am I wrong to assume that a transaction still means an exchange of goods and services? Is it presumptuous of me to want to receive a product that I have paid for? Is it selfish in this age to want to interact with a human that can actually address the situation and provide me any indication that a resolution is forthcoming? Do I really need to traverse the phone tree equivalent of Dante’s inferno just to indeed receive what I’ve paid for?  I don’t think so.

It seems to be commonplace right now that many businesses – corporations – simply take money from customers and say to hell with the rest. I for one am sick of it; I am guessing that I’m not alone. The lack of customer service attention paid to me is not due to my rude behavior – I kept a civil tongue – it’s due to our business climate. In order for a company to get ahead they have to “run lean” (translation: lay a bunch of people off and forget the value they added to the business), they have to “oursource” (translation: make the customers do work for you), they have to “work smart” (translation: scare the crap out of the remaining workforce so that they will put in lots of free overtime work and take on more responsibility without additional pay). If a corporation does not employ these tactics the chances are that they will be forced to via an investor or shareholder. No value is placed on the humans involved; our work force is getting cheaper by the minute and we humans are treated accordingly.

I’m guessing that thousands or even millions of others have experienced the very same frustrating run around in regards to customer service. If corporations can outsource research (customer forums), management (phone trees), and follow ups (“hello?…..hello?…”) to us customers, maybe I can outsource some of my problem issues to them, you know kind of an exchange. Here is how I might do this; I welcome everyone’s creativity to find your own ways of upping the ante when it comes to dealing with these bullies of (corporate)personhood.

I have two children grade school age, somewhat hyperactive. I will give my local branch of Best Buy one more chance to be civilized and help me, their customer,  and then I will take action. I will purchase jelly filled, sugar sprinkled doughnuts and allow my two boys to keep them in their pockets. We will calmly enter the store and I will occupy my usual place in line with the customer service. I will only instruct my boys to find something to do while I wait in line, and allow them to eat when hungry. They love video games, computers, phones, and cameras and thoroughly enjoy the floor models in stores. If I have to wait long, I might need to offer them some juice boxes. If it is a very long time it may call for a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos on the floor near customer service. For this special occasion – and since my wait is likely to be quite long to get any true help –  I may even allow them to bring some of their electronic toys that sing, beep, and buzz loudly. The youngest sometimes keeps a whistle in his pocket and enjoys blowing that at times. Keeping kids busy while we consumers do the work that corporations have outsourced to us, is difficult. It’s time that those corporations feel the crunch.

We must stop taking this insult to our daily lives. Obviously customer service is a casualty of downsizing and rethinking corporate profits. Yes, some customer service lines reroute to India where we cannot understand the heavily accented “Justin” on the other end, but much of the work seems to be outsourced…to us!  We spend our precious hours trying to help ourselves, hamper our bodies with additional stress, our livelihoods suffer due to lack of equipment or attention (I went a month with no computer!!!). They continually ask us – through a recorded voice – to chase our own tails then insult us by using that same recorded voice to thank us for our business. I’ve met more considerate schoolyard bullies. Please join me in putting pressure –by any non-violent, legal means necessary – on customer service.  I do feel sorry for those behind the counters making barely over minimum wage, but we must make the company feel the inconvenience like we feel it. The old school motto of “the customer is always right”, has been replaced with a new unspoken one, “the customer is always too busy and weary to make a fuss”.

This lack of attention on the part of Best Buy and its corporate ilk are yet another reason to buy local. I did have a happy ending to my issue in that I finally got the attention of a local manager and ended up with a laptop for a seventh of the price. Civil disobedience- even when legal – can be effective if we take the time. Activate in all the areas of your life, that is what the “Occupy” trend is really about. Wake up and see how the political policy really does trickle down on you. In the meantime, if you are planning a visit to Best Buy in the near future, perhaps you should bring some handiwipes – just in case.

Thanks to Andrew Toos for the political cartoon.

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Citizens United and Citizens Divided

Saturday is the anniversary of the Citizens United decision that held up the idea that corporations are people. I know of no individual person that agrees with this decision – ok, Mitt Romney unashamedly says, “corporations are people my friend” in this clip. How can this be? How can any human deny their own species of its unique place in the world? I will break down the ideas behind this concept and try to make any sense of this point of view. Meanwhile I’d like to make some suggestions on how to start this conversation.

In that clip, Romney is explaining that the money from corporations goes to people, therefore they equal people. For all of us, not just presidential candidates, we tend to ignore facts and use what we can to justify our positions. While for many of us that argument rings hollow, perhaps he has actually convinced himself that because people work for corporations that they are the same. Each of us can construct a worldview that reinforces our own desires and beliefs and when confronted with outside opinion – it sounds crazy. This supporting argument is rather weak because in fact a corporation cannot put on a shirt, take a breath, and has no DNA. Any grade school scientist could come to the conclusion that indeed corporations are not humans. The actual values that cause folks like Romney – and our Supreme Court – to make these justifications, actually stem from their worldview that authority is the supreme moral compass. This authority ultimately rests in their belief in God, which might mean a Christian – or Mormon – one, but it also might mean a deitized view of money. Continue reading

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