April 24th, 2017 | Tin Foil Hat Time | No Comments Yet
I am mad; mad at large companies for the rape of the landscape, mad at abusing customers because they have the legal ground or the finances to fund lawyers until their opponent crashes. I am mad at companies collecting data, storing data, and not being open about hacks, and treating people as widgets; units of production. Let us discuss this in detail.
The most tin-foilish part of this whole discussion is the actual conspiracy theory that the whole world is bowing to the pressure from only a few families…and maybe I will make a case for that. As you know, however, I am not really a tin-foil wearing conspiracy guy; I am just connecting a lot of points and seeing some things that recent years have led me to be a little concerned. Now that I primed that discussion it is worth looking at this image:
This info graphic shows that nearly all food brands are controlled by only ten companies. Similar charts could be created about other industries. The International Business Guide publishes a brief summary. The Information Clearinghouse shows us that in 1983, 90% of all American media companies were owned by a total of 50 companies, but those same media companies are now owned only by 6 companies. In the news this week is Verizon wants to merge with anyone (WARNING: Autoplaying video) wanting to merge with them. So the world gets smaller in terms of who owns what.
Corporatocracy is a type of economic and political system where the corporations and their interests control laws and regulations. We have seen that a small number of companies own the majority of products and services. The International Business Guide (linked above) shows the vast company profits as a result of owning such a variety of products. The problem arises when the companies use their resources to write laws and buy votes. This is not something that is new, nor is it only in the Republican party, so please leave the party lines out. The following two examples outline the effect of corporatocracy.
Mylan purchased the EpiPen in 2007 when the price was about $100 for a two-pack. In 2013 the price of the same package increased to $265, and as of 2016 when EpiPens hit the news for alleged corporate misbehavior the price was $609. During this price hike the company lobbied congress for the Emergency Epinephrine Act which requires most schools and other agencies to have EpiPens on hand at all times. Of course the program will help to reduce the cost of the drugs…provided the schools agree to not use any competitors. The Emergency Epinephrine Act was signed into law November 13, 2013 by President Barack Obama and it requires all schools to have at least two non-expired EpiPens on the on hand at all times. Of course our tax dollars will supplement the cost of the pen so the company will get government kickbacks for the number of free and reduced pens that were offered to schools.
Another example of corporatocracy is the bankruptcy reform laws that were passed in 2005. Though this is a long time back, I wanted to address this particular law because it caused a shift in the rapidly growing consumer debt market from a system where a consumer could spend out of control, reach a point where they were in over their head with consumer debt, and then need to bankrupt it. The problem for the credit industry was it was too easy to claim bankruptcy and the waiting period before you could do it again was short. The new law was written by MBNA and made the initial process of filing for bankruptcy more difficult, but also increased the period of time between when consumers could file again. The sad tragedy is that the creditors will now target newly bankrupted people with more debt offers in order to ‘help them rebuild their credit’. This is a classic example of a company re-writing a law that benefits themselves.
We have not even looked at the suspicious writing of the Affordable Healthcare Act, the Internet Privacy Repeal, and others.
Though there are several problems with corporatocracy, the largest in my estimation is that companies make rules that often protect themselves while stripping protections from consumers. Then the company is free to misbehave in many ways, either by outlasting the plaintiff in court, or by simply re-writing the laws to benefit themselves.
I reported on Corporate Misbehavior on a prior post and video. This was the tip of the iceberg. I started that video with a brief discussion of the incompetence of the property manager where I was looking for a new apartment. Curiously it is that very organization that has primed my anger this week. The incompetence of the manager is exasperated by the dueling traits that she cannot admit her wrongs and she is a bully, even bringing my elder neighbor to crying over a problem where the manager objectively wrong. I am finding myself in the same crossfire with the woman, but I will not go into the details at present.
If you have followed my Tin Foil Hat series, you know that I am interested in real-world solutions to the problems we present. Of course, sometimes this means changing our behaviors and this can be difficult. We may not change the world for everyone, but we can change it for ourselves and thus help ourselves to live a better personal life. Here are my tips: