« The Corporation »

We went to see this movie tonight with a Canadian friend of ours. Man, if I had seen this in high school, I would have gotten a head start on this leftist career of mine. There are just so many things that you don't learn in school, like how the world works. This movie was an endurance test. It would have been an endurance test if it were ONLY 2 hours and 25 minutes long, but the true test of endurance was watching one bit of film after another showing the state of the world as it is plundered and turned into a battle ground in the name of making money. All the evidence is there; some chief dude at the FBI went on record by saying that the corporation, as a "person" (the status that it has found its way into in order to gain certain legal favors) has a psychological profile identical to that of a classic psychopath. No shit.

Of course my recent blogs have been about this sort of stuff, and even one called "Big Government" was almost too close to what I just saw. Many of my points were pretty well backed up. The government is actually the corporate world's bitch. Corporations don't need much justification for anything they do. Their sole interest, and indeed their sole purpose, is to make money for their controlling interests, and any means to that end is acceptable. There was one case where a Liz Claiborne blouse sold for $178, but the labor cost was under $1 in a third world sweatshop. Or that Nike sells a piece of clothing for $22 that took six minutes to make—meaning the cost for production was less than one percent. Now, it might just be me, but that sounds a little funny.

Or, on a separate example of how the business is more important than everything else, I heard on NPR today that some restaurants have been making their waiters pay credit card service charges out of their tips! Apparently the rationale is that since the server gets free money for being a smiley dude, they should be able and willing to pay for the transaction fees on the credit card payments. Now, for those not really in the know, you gotta realize that restaurants ALREADY have a loophole for how to pay waiters less. They pay about half of minimum wage for the base hourly wage, with the remainder supposedly being made up by the tips that the waiter gets. So, if federal minimum wage is $5.15, the restaurant need only pay its waiters $2.15 an hour, unless the tips don't end up leveling off at minimum wage or higher. So, restaurants are already robbing their employees, by skirting good taste and ethics by paying waiters less than MINIMUM wage. Now, there are some who want the waiters to dip into their own cash and cover the service costs. Wretched. See, it is these small steps, very small ones, that allow the companies to get bigger and more reckless. It's sort of a creeping death. Hey, look how far Hitler got in his European vacation before anyone really took him seriously. It happens this way.

I worked for about two years as a pizza delivery dude (Pizza Slut and Dominos). My wage was minimum, but my tips often doubled that, even tripled that. Now, that seemed fair to me. I made more money doing that than all my previous jobs. I just hated the corporate bullshit. They wanted me to please customers, and I did, if my average night's tips were any indication. But they wanted me to conform by wearing stupid uniforms, flying their flag on my vehicle, and so forth. BUT, if I were to get into ANY accident, my ass would have been grass, and they would take me off the road. It happened to one of the most reliable drivers. He stayed for a couple weeks as a regular employee, but after making minumum wage instead of three times that, he left. Apparently we are only an asset to the company while we make money and not controversy or trouble, or bring any notoriety to the company. As soon as that happens, they drop you like a hot potato. Anything to ensure the flow of money into shareholder pockets—that's all they are about. And they will pull any trick in the book, or even write new books, to achieve that.

Anyhow, back to the movie. The business of privatization is basically evil. Don't believe otherwise. The world is NOT for sale. The people of Bolivia had to fight like mad to keep rights to the water that is naturally theirs, but had been privatized (including the RAIN WATER). The people of India are having to defend their ability to keep their own seeds, in opposition to Archer Daniels Midland, the biotech firm that basically has created single season suicidal seeds. Yup. They are fighting for their food. Farmers now have to buy seeds from ADM so they can carry on doing what they have done for millenia. And what happens when ADM fails and the farmer's organic seeds are all gone?

This movie was an endurance test. There were some hilarious moments too, but by and large, it is just one scathing indictment after another of how all the world is under the influence of corporations of one sort or another. Environmental damage, social catastrophe, political corruption and collusion (sort of like IBM selling the Nazis their punch card systems that allowed for the tracking of prisoners and the dead), and genomic patents on the most basic building blocks of all life. It is just an overwhelming thing to watch. It really leaves you with nowhere to go. And, as I said, it seems that the only thing to do is to not buy stuff you don't need, and really challenge yourself to find more ethical suppliers of the stuff you do need. You can't eat, think, walk, breathe, drive, or even shit without there being some sort of corporation making it possible.

I wish this movie and others like it were the blockbusters, instead of the pabulum that passes for entertainment. That at least would give me some hope.

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