(the entire "ABC's of Corpocracy"; series is available here)
Despite the vast power and wealth amassed by the Bush Billionaire's Club which presently owns the business and political landscape, the Club is afraid of one thing. An informed and educated us. They are so afraid that we are going to awaken from our anxiety and fear blanketed slumber that they are already spending an incredible amount of money to change your perception of them while many of us are still ensconced in restless sleep. Think of a fox that puts a matronly hen mask on before entering the barn and the carnage that is a subsequent certainty. Corporations and the elite that hide behind these friendly disguises want you to remain distracted by fear, politics, divisive issues and day to day survival while they continue to plunder the earth and transfer wealth and power at an unprecedented rate by a government they have all but installed to act on their behalf. The reason they put a friendly mask on is they know that if the egregious operating behavior were well-known, people would avoid their products and purchase alternatives.
We generally have a good idea about prices, product quality and brand affinity when we make our purchases. And each purchase transaction we enter represents a transfer of power. We are taking our money, and trading our dollars for a product. Our dollars will then perpetuate a set of business behaviors. The Billionaire's Club prefers we know nothing about those business behaviors. They want us to focus on shiny, fun products, happy commercials and their spin.
One important theoretical concept of a free market is that a manufacturer that can produce goods in a cost-effective manner can then sell those goods at competitive prices and generate higher profit. If my cost of production for a Happy Fun Ball is $1.20 and my competitor can make an equivalent product for $2.00 I can generate more sales and profit for my product. Such profit can reward investors, employees, management and be reinvested in research that can in turn yield more optimal processes keeping the business competitive for a long time. The neoconservative (fascist) easy way out is for a business to simply shift their costs to society. Ironically it is the same group of neocon fascists that claim "family values", "hard work" and "responsibility" as their core attributes while making a mockery of well-intentioned conservatives (and liberals) that actually embody such principles. Instead of cleaning up after itself, a neocon business creates pollution and waste and expects society to clean it up. Rules and regulations too stringent in this town? We'll just move to another town, state or country where we can do what we want. Or we threaten to leave and economically destroy a town causing them to bend the rules. Or we simply buy the local politicians and create a favorable regulatory and enforcement environment so we can operate any way that shifts more wealth to us. No need to look farther than Cunningham, Delay and other elected officials that have continued to destroy the integrity of government. Pay decent wages? Hah! Allow unions to organize our workers? Not a chance. Don't like working for a bunch of rich, white executives? Go somewhere else. Oh, there are no other employers in town? Better pack up your family and move. Want healthcare? That's what social services are for.
We owe it to ourselves, our families, our communities, neighborhoods and the entire world to know what product belongs to what company, and the set of behaviors that are implemented by the company. Does the company pollute, encourage sweatshop conditions, discriminate, plunder our resources while paying their CEO and executive committee huge compensation packages? Do they subvert the political process by aligning themselves with a corrupt group of "elected" officials and in turn those politicians eviscerate regulations and enforcement of laws and regulations that were enacted to protect us? We must demand to have readily available access to such information so we can make informed, educated purchase decisions. By shifting our spending (and the powerful impact of our spending) away from predatory corporations to businesses that are evolving and taking a true leadership role in a new, sustainable fair market economy, we can cause a radical shift in the way business interacts with our resources and all of us. While the effort I began (alonovo.com) and other efforts such as CoopAmerica hold promise, any product or service to allow you to readily transcend product price in your decisions must be used. Think of it as a People's TRW or Equifax Credit system -instead of business evaluating our credit history to determine if they want to do business with us -we will have an equivalent database and technology that will provide vital information about a product we are about to purchase. It won't be long until you use a cell phone, a PDA or an IPOD to quickly look up information about a company. Do they use animals in research? Do they have manufacturing facilities that have not signed on to the SA8000 (sa-intl.org)? Do they shift their workforce to a developing country to avoid health and safety standards and use child labor and/or indentured servitude? It won't be long before you pass your reader over a product and get a simple red, yellow or green so you can make intelligent choices.
The economic revolution has begun. Are you in?