We Are No Longer Customers. WE ARE VICTIMS.
May 23, 2010 Leave a comment
WE ARE NO LONGER CUSTOMERS. WE ARE VICTIMS.
— When Critics, Destroyers and Corporate Clones Take Over, and Entrepreneurship and Productivity are Allowed to Languish and Atrophy
Q: What is even more frightening than a combination of deplorable service, inferior quality, arbitrary fee increases, random charges (pure thievery), dishonored guarantees, de-humanized telephone “help” menus (that run you in circles and keep you on the telephone for hours) flagrant corporate lawlessness (i.e., regulators asleep at their posts, or sleeping with those whom they are supposed to regulate), fewer choices (i.e., more monopolies controlling more territory across more industrial sectors)… a rape of rights… and a lack of any practical means to obtain some relief or redress – and the expectation of the situation to worsen?
A: Acceptance and inaction by an entire population of increasingly willing victims… giving our freedoms and power away in larger and larger increments, and never even trying to regain them.
My third-grade gym teacher would have called this type of attitude and conduct “pathetic.” Today, however, in the interest of being *Politically Correct*, we would substitute the gentle euphemism “accommodating.”
To my unsophisticated understanding, lying down and allowing one’s self to be repeatedly trounced upon (kind of like a college fraternity “hazing”) is not being accommodating – it’s being a voluntary casualty. When you do not fight back, when you do not resist, you are giving the other party implicit license to continue a policy or pattern of abuse. When you actually praise it, subsidize it or reward it (as the US Federal Reserve did in bailing out failing banking institutions), you are encouraging its growth, like a rapidly-metastasizing cancer.
Do you need some real-life examples of this disarray and malodorous decay? Rest assured that you won’t have to look far:
· Go to your bank and ask about getting your mortgage restructured or about getting any type of home loan for a refinance or new purchase (for some genuine fun, clip out an ad which shows their “new low mortgage rate,” and ask if you’re eligible for it);
· Try to telephone your cable services provider to register a complaint with a human;
· Try to decipher all of the “miscellaneous” and mysterious charges on your cellular telephone bill or your credit card statement;
· Watch your health insurance premiums increase year after year;
· Call the Internal Revenue Service and politely ask to speak with someone about a tax question that you’d like answered;
· Have a surgical procedure (of your choice) done in any hospital and prance about in the avalanche of bills that will be waiting for you when you get home, or arriving shortly thereafter…. A pile of separate bills in exorbitant amounts from all types of professionals whom you can’t recall ever having had any interaction with at all. [You’ll want to take a $2.00 Extra-Strength Tylenol to relieve your headache];
· Try to withdraw $10,000.00 of your own funds in cash from your own bank – where you might even know the vice-president or branch manager on a friendly basis;
· Try to get your own candidate on the presidential ballot, or to even elect a president directly by popular vote (majority decision);
· Go through security clearance at an airport;
· Find a lawyer who will take your $10,000 personal injury case on a contingency basis, and will not charge you any “expenses.”
· Visit a Wal-Mart (Adam J. Kovitz finds this endlessly entertaining) and witness ‘enthusiastic consumerism’ and ‘responsive service’ [sarcasm intended].
· Ask the average person on the street for: the name of the Vice-President, the name of the Secretary of State, the meanings of the First or the Second Amendment, or about anything having to do with domestic or international governance or interaction… – best of luck! –
You may ask, “How did this happen?” If you are a bit more introspective and perhaps have an eerie feeling of complicity in this massive, accelerating unraveling of civilization, you might even ask, “How could we have let this happen?”
There are several variables that fuel a successful organization, system or economy. When any of these variables is missing, problems ensue, and the results are ultimately catastrophic if the situation is allowed to continue with an uncorrected defect. By rough analogy, it is similar to what happens when you continue to drive your automobile with a flattened tire. As the situation progresses, through sheer neglect, there will be increasingly expensive damage to your automobile, with collateral damage to your wallet, as well.
The variables that I’ve identified through my work in organizational strategic planning and as an economist which I believe are elements common to the growth and sustenance of any enterprise:
1. Clear objectives, and a consensus among all participants as to what these are. In a true democracy, a consensus is based upon an agreement by all parties that they are willing to be subject to the vote of the majority;
2. Clear priorities. In certain cases, energies and resources have to be taken from one task and reallocated to another. This requires that every specialist at every level of government and society be fully informed (at his or her own effort) of all of the factors affecting the economy, and not just those that pertain immediately and directly to his or her specialty. This requires that every participant have a constantly updated worldview – it does not allow for inertia, blinders, or non-cooperation where the good of the entire civilization is at risk. Conflicts and partisanship must be set aside in order to act effectively in emergencies;
3. Positive incentives (applicable to all participants) for attaining objectives, recognizing and addressing priorities;
4. Negative consequences (applicable to all participants) associated with dereliction of duty, with some allowance, as may be reasonable for mitigating and extenuating circumstances;
5. An inexpensive and rapid system for moderation, arbitration and redress of valid grievances;
6. An open forum for discussion, debate and decision making;
7. The active and informed participation of all constituents in the process of organizational governance, and in the dissemination and analysis of information, which should flow freely;
8. Recognition and fostering of creativity, innovation and imagination – this requires a good education and communications system; and –
9. The entrepreneurial drive – the constant striving for improvement and betterment.
The entrepreneurial sector, throughout history, has driven all technological and social advances, all productive capacity and all employment. The spark is required to start the fire is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are almost always the creators, and almost never the destroyers. They are disruptive, just like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster to form a beautiful, smooth pearl.
What do we get when the entrepreneurs are robbed of their innovations and incentives and a bunch of “stuffed shirts” are put in to take them over? Stagnant, conformist culture…an atrophy of problem-solving skills…a proliferation of non-creative, robotic administrators…an entrenchment in the status quo…the transfer of resources and power from the entrepreneurs into the hands of fat cat managers and their conglomerates (parasites), regulators (needing something to regulate, by definition), prosecutors (because everybody loves a sheriff, and only a handful of outlaws are admired), and other species at the great watering hole of the economy. Ah yes – inefficiency, gluttony, and a resistance to change and new ideas.
You probably have figured it out:
We are where we are because…
1. We stopped aggressively fostering and rewarding entrepreneurship, innovation and originality;
2. We began to see profits (at any cost) as both the means and the end for everything, and forgot about the notions of cooperation, collaboration, giving value and the Greater Good;
3. We started become paper-traders and paper-pushers and stopped becoming producers and jobs creators. All of the latest and most celebrated innovations were involved in ways to generate faster, bigger profits while produce the least benefit or service to the consumer and customer;
4. We abdicated our role as activists and became spectators, allowing other power-driven and ambitious people to make all of our decisions for us. What a frightful loss of power and dignity! ;
5. We surrendered all of our freedoms in the interest of safety, and the national security. The end result has been the irretrievable loss of vital freedoms with no real increase in safety or security at all. We chose to be slaves to stronger masters instead of being master of our own fates and champions of our own passions;
6. We accepted the unacceptable and assumed it was inevitable. By just complaining about it and never acting upon our disgust, we condoned abominable indignities, inhumanities and permitted an ever-declining level of social responsibility and service to flourish;
7. We forgot that we were once Human Beings, and we viewed instinct, intuition and the notions of conscience and thoughtfulness as weaknesses instead of as fundamental gifts and focal points of strength.
I ask you, as I often do…Does anyone hear a bell tolling or see clouds gathering on the horizon?
Now I will ask you…Do you want to be a victim when you do not have to be, or have you become so institutionalized that you dare not dream of peace, prosperity and success?