Corporations: The New Commies

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

When I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s when watching movies and television shows, the bad guys were always the Communists.  From movies like Rambo, to Red Dawn it was always commies, often times the Soviet Union.  In the 50’s and 60’s it was even more prominent.  We had the Red Scare during those times.  People did bomb drills during the Cuban missile crisis.  Some of these fears back then weren’t without merit.  Castro had nukes pointed at us for God’s sake, temporary as it was.

One of my favorite classic movies is The Manchurian Candidate starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury.  In the original version, several soldiers return from being POWs in Korea only to find they have been brainwashed.  They have strange memories of events and one of them has been hypnotized to assassinate the a presidential candidate when given the proper trigger.  There’s much more to it than my little synopsis, but that’s the gist of it.  In the story, it was Americans working toward that end, but they were working with the communists as a means to take over the country.  The whole thing sent shudders through anyone who saw it at the time.  I first saw it when I was fifteen.  Even though the Cold War was over by then, it still gave me heebie jeebies.

Well today we have a new set of villains.  The new bad guys are corporations.  These large, faceless, greedy money factories are behind all of the evil deeds in the world apparently.  Even in the modern day remake of The Manchurian Candidate it was a corporation behind the big conspiracy.  Well a corporation and the government.  In some media, corporations run the government.  This was clear in the TV series Prison Break where the sinister “Company”, ran the shadow government behind the real government.  In the TV series Dollhouse, it was once again a large pharmaceutical company that was funding all the human experiments and bought off the right politicians to look the other way.

Pharmaceutical companies seem to be especially evil.  I think I’ve seen them demonized in more movies than any other single industry.  Many times though, its just corporations in general.  Why do we suppose this is?  I’m sure it could be a lot of things.  First off, I am not saying corporations don’t do bad things.  I have no doubt that  corporate interests and government interests are a little to close for my own comfort these days.  However, I have had my share of run ins with health insurance and credit card companies.  Don’t even get me started with cable companies.  Needless to say, I get the frustration with corporations.

The thing is, we have a bit of a conundrum in this country.  We all hate corporations, yet we love their stuff.  We hate our wireless carriers, yet we run out to get the newest smart phones and pay for huge date and voice plans.  I kind of crack up when I see people from the Occupy movement railing against big business while tapping away on their iPads.  Yes, I know they have other things they are upset about, just making a single observation.

So during the Christmas season, people head out on Black Friday to pepper spray, hit and trample each other for the latest big screen TV, Xbox or Snooki doll.  Not only are all these things made by corporations, they are sold at big  box stores we had to that are also big corporations.  In many ways, we have done this to ourselves.

Lets take Wal-Mart for instance.  They sell big stuff, lots of it and cheaper than anyone else.  A few years ago, I owned my own store.  It was a independent dealership for a major cell phone carrier.  I sold their product, but I was totally on my own.  I could use their signage, buy their phones and products and sold them and made a nice commission.  After barely two years, I was out of business.  Why?  Well a lot of reasons . No doubt, I made my share of mistakes and I take responsibility for my share.  However there was one huge obstacle I had a hard time overcoming.  That was Wal-Mart and Best Buy.  I guess that is two obstacles, but I digress.

Wal-Mart and Best Buy do two things.  One, they make deals with carriers and manufacturers for phone pricing, and two, they buy in enormous bulk.  For example, the same smart phone I have to pay $500.00 for, they could get for $200-300.00.  Then they sell it for a third of what I could sell it for.  No way I could compete with that.  People often would come see me for service.  They loved that I provided great and personal customer service, but the other places were cheaper so off they went to buy their stuff there.

I don’t tell this for sympathy or for a sob story.  Point is, we have all done this.  For years many companies offered great service.  Yet instead we insisted on cheap, cheaper, cheapest.  Instead of paying a little extra for better quality or personal service, we made price our number one buying factor.  In doing so, we pushed businesses into a price war where only the biggest can survive.  All the mom and pop small businesses went under because they couldn’t keep up.  We are the ones who opened the door for the big companies to come in and buy everything up.  Corporations are our own creation, they are our Frankenstein.  And like Dr. Frankenstein himself, we see a future where we are destroyed by our own creation.

Will this really happen?  No telling.  Just something worth pondering.  I work for a large corporation now.  I guess I sold out.  I went from being self employed to working for “the man.”  I like to think my writing will sustain me one day, but maybe not.  In the meantime, I’m happy to let “the man” take care of me and not worry about all the day to day operations of running a business.  As far as movies go, I hope we can find a new bad guy soon, since I’ve seen that movie plenty of times.

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