Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Wish I Could Say Corporate Greed Is Absurd

It is not. It is terrible. The headlines have a repeating theme. Jobs cut. Positions moving to overseas locations because companies can reduce costs by paying lower wages in other countries. The t-shirt you are wearing, that you cheaply bought? Was it made in Haiti by someone who only earned $6 whole dollars in a day to make it? You find that an acceptable business practice? Capitalism all the way? Someday, you'll be the rich person that can laugh as you sit on the backs of faceless people who think they are getting good wages in a poor country? Six dollars is good wages in a day in Haiti? T-shirts not a good enough example, why not call centers that keep sliding out of the country claiming U.S. workers cost too much to pay. Companies do not do it to nurture employees or foster a work environment of growth. Money is the bottom line. What should be a business cost has become a CEO bonus. Why not create laws that force corporations to invest money that would have gone toward paying American workers in the United States or in the countries they are using, by going to the services of the lowest bidder. Say Great Generic T-Shirts makes their sweatshop in Haiti. They pay out $6/day for the year. The difference that they would have paid with US workers is identified on their taxes and they pay it. They designate it to social and environmental programs.
It is absurd that we think it is okay for someone to get paid less than what their work is worth. Two skilled workers doing the same job should not be paid differently just because they come from different cultural backgrounds and live in different geographical areas.
It is absurd to be angry at people making minimum wage in a society where the cost of living continues to climb; do we expect minimum wage earners to just be happy without enough to meet their basic needs? Perhaps we can build them a couple of churches to pray at, that would be nice. That way they have a place to just deal in wholesale hopes and dreams and the consolation of the intangible love of some greater force. Something to take the edge off their rumbling stomaches and thundering bill collectors or maybe I am just being absurd.
Before you get angry at me for defending the lower class, I think that most professionals are underpaid. Working in Psychology with a degree I could get less than $20 an hour. Good pay was around $10. I know lawyers making $10/hour. The military is highly underpaid. Highly, and I am amazed they haven't figured out that they could use their training to force a reorganization of the government away from Corporate control. My Political Science Professor always said that intelligent legislators always pay their military and veterans well because "they are the people with the weapons and the training." Perhaps Washington has forgotten that in the constant need to dance to the tunes of corporate wishes and dollars.

One other idea, perhaps equally absurd but possibly effective. Why not set a certain amount of money to spend on political campaigns based on what type they are (Congress, Senate, Presidential). Each candidate competes to raise money that is donated to address the deficit. Deficit gone, then it goes to social programs. Their campaign funding gets spent on paying debt and gets put into social programs. So if all three presidential candidates are only allowed to spend $3 million on a campaign and they appeal to the public through speeches and fundraising (which they already do) to fundraise. Let the public see what good they can do. Let us vote based on what we think of how they spent the money they were given. All donations registered and made transparent. Let us decide based on the amount of good they do. Why are elected positions the only ones that let us (the actual employers) review resumes, references and work histories? Why do elections seem to run on rumor mongering and hearsay? Why do we allow ourselves to forget that they are ALL reading speeches written by PROFESSIONAL SPEECHWRITERS who ARE PAID to MANIPULATE us. If we are going to make politics entertainment, there should be constant disclaimers going across the screen.

Learn about the Barnum Effect, while you laugh and affiliate based on generic similarities to different groups- the very characteristics you pride yourself in are the ones that cold analysts are watching, adjusting their puppets behaviors and words to mollify and stroke the egos of those who feel they are included in a group. That a group specifically represents them, when it really doesn't- it's just the average, generic description. It is used successfully in advertising. Doubt me? Ever seen any pharmaceutical commercial? Ever? They listed the symptoms. How many did you have? You listened, you checked and you wondered if it applied to you. I remember one really ambiguous one that showed a woman walking down the beach. I wondered if it applied to me. Then I heard erectile dysfunction. Well, being female I was amazed at how only the last words of the narrator talked to the men watching.  In psychology, they joke about the Barnum Effect. They apparently never talk to advertisers.

We perpetually defend the rights of the Corporation. Why? Why do they have more rights and freedoms than the individual? Did you know that a Corporation can kill someone, two someones, hell- let's be absurd… a thousand someones and not be criminally charged? It has to do with the status of a Corporation. If you or I have a drink too many and make the terrible mistake of getting behind the wheel, we pay the price and potentially get sued for millions more than we will ever be worth for a mistake; yes a REALLY STUPID and WE SHOULD NEVER BE SO STUPID mistake but a mistake. No driver I have ever met at any bar has ever said "Hold on, I just have to drive home so I can kill some total stranger." No one has ever said it. Maybe we need posters that say this at the exits of bars, to remind people whose judgement is reduced with a bit of sarcasm the folly of their plan. In fact, it is absurd that all locations selling alcoholic beverages don't have graphic warnings at the door or free drinks for designated drivers. I have been a volunteer designated driver before, It felt good to know the roads were safe those nights. You are wondering why I bring this up, misjudgment and accident. Corporations knowingly make decisions that put profits before harm to the public. Remember the car companies getting into trouble over fudging injuries and fatalities to stall out expensive recalls? I remember. Google it. Fascinating and grim reading. People died because of faulty vehicles. Corporations did not face criminal charges. They paid settlements. A lot of settlements. They didn't get a record, spend a night with the mythological Bubba and a bar of soap. They didn't even get a slap on the wrist. They got stern looks and continued using formulas to determine the largest profit ratio, how many settlements could be knowingly arranged and paid out while still allowing the company to sit tight on profits. And as an aside, never, NEVER, drive after you have been drinking! No more bad stories from tragic misjudgments needed!

Industries cut corners. Corporations change ingredients and use fillers. They read the laws, then take a fine toothed comb to them, they figure out how to manipulate appearances. Packaging and labeling, even descriptions and ingredient lists change based on public response. Recoil from High Fructose Corn Syrup, then watch for "Corn Sugar" as it is the same thing with a new nickname, one without the stigma of the commonly known name. That is as absurd as trying to look smart by calling a Pigeon a "Rock Dove" - which incidentally, is it's less common name.

T-shirts. So have you checked your labels? Do you know where your t-shirts come from? A friend recently gave me a t-shirt. I recognized the brand. I have had other shirts from them. This will be the last. I will keep it to remind myself of their practices. Gildan. They have a factory in Haiti. They pay workers $6 a day to turn wages into profits. They are using people. People are a resource.

We all have value. The world has value. What can we do to change things? To treat the world and each other like we all have intrinsic value would not be absurd, it would be human. It would be progress.