It is a popular notion today that we (Americans, Canadians, the world) are being victimized night and day by large corporations. In some cases there is truth to the suspicion. The irony is that in many ways, however, it is we who are ultimately the cause of the problem. Who are we? Consumers.
Yes, it's true. Each and every one of us is at the root of this enormous problem. We don't want to see it that way, but that doesn't change the facts.
I can hear some of you scoffing now. How is it possible that a single consumer is even partially responsible for the havoc that these mega-corporations, these international powerhouses, are wreaking on our lives, finances, families, and on our very planet?
The answer is simple. We vote with our wallets, and we typically vote in the name of our own convenience. Want to be trendy? Buy those expensive running shoes and conveniently forget that they are made in a sweatshop on the other side of the world. Want a clean house? Ignore all of the warnings about creating super-resistant diseases and buy antibacterial products for every facet of your cleaning needs.
They shouldn't make those products, then, we might say. Sure, blame it on the businesses. We just can't forget one important fact. They're businesses. That is, they're in business. Businesses on a basic level exist to do one simple thing: make money. Any evil corporate executive would think more than twice about wasting funds on a product people wouldn't buy.
What about that evil company, by the way? How many times have we gone and spent money in a store that we know has hiring practices, supplier choices, and other issues that we detest? After all, they've got the cheapest prices in town. It's one thing if you are so strapped that it's purchase things there or deny your family's basic needs (food, clothing, shelter). But when's the last time someone really needed a new waffle iron to survive?
We ignore a lot of things so that we can have our convenience, and our things. Our precious things. We close our eyes and ears and walk down the aisles amongst perfect temperatures and pleasant music, pretending that we don't know particular facts about products and not wanting to know the truth about others.
Truth isn't convenient. It makes us all itchy under the collar when our conscience nags. So we fork out more and more to the very companies we've grown to hate. We use our tax breaks to guzzle more gas rather than cutting back on energy consumption. We have our cars adjusted just enough to pass emission quality inspections and then change them back afterwards to avoid paying for the necessary repairs to help the environment, or purchasing a better tuned vehicle.
It's so easy to say that no one can make a difference, that companies will throw products to us and that's just how it is; we have no choice, we're just little consumers. Please remember well into this new year, and the one after that, that these ideas that have become so popular in American culture are nothing more than excuses. Vote with your wallets, even if it's just once a week or once a month, or on one particular product-and be sure to write the store or manufacturer and explain why.
Yes, it's hard for one person to make a difference. But hundreds of thousands of individual people can change the world.