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Sunday, December 31, 2023

It's Time to Stop Global Corporations


We are the proverbial frog -- being boiled slowly enough that we don't jump. I was on's website this morning, adding an item to my next auto-ship. It was so easy that I found myself scratching my head. How could Chewy get this so right, and Amazon get it so wrong?

If you've ever tried to change an Auto-ship order on Amazon, you know what I'm talking about. It's impossible to do most things (like changing the delivery address because you won't be at home), and difficult to do the few things you can do (like changing the delivery date). I know Amazon is capable of doing much better. They choose not to. These deficiencies are barriers to making their operations more complex at your expense.

This is a theme that most global corporations have figured out. They can squeeze consumers from every angle, and their sheer size and reach will cause people to just suck it up. While I'm piling on Amazon, this year, they raised their Prime cost...AGAIN! That might be reasonable, but then only a few months later, they decide to make Prime members, who expect Prime Video as one of the components of membership, pay an extra $35.88 per year to avoid ads. So, now they have added a new revenue source, AND they are making you pay extra. Sweet deal for them.

I have similar stories for every major corporation I deal with. It's the new normal. Arguably, we shouldn't blame them. It's capitalism. This is how it works. When companies go public, their very existence depends on finding new ways to increase profits. Naturally, the customer is the loser when creativity stalls.

How can we stop the bleeding? Short of ending capitalism, there's one simple change that would have a major impact -- 100% publicly funded elections. I know what you're thinking, what politician would vote for that? Answer: until we citizens demand it, none. Every politician takes money from rich people who are rich because they run corporations. It won't be easy.

Here's the thing: if elections were publicly funded, politicians would be beholden only to voters. They wouldn't be able to get rich from corporate bribes (at least legally), and they wouldn't need to spend any time listening to what corporate leaders want. This would incentivize true leaders who actually want to make positive change for the people of this country and disincentivize those who seek power and wealth.

It would essentially eliminate corporate lobby groups because their money couldn't go anywhere. Special interest lobbies would continue to exist, but politicians would be more interested in what's popular with the people than what will get them enough money to win their next election or secure a cushy life after politics.

Imagine if politicians couldn't run ads. No highly polished psyops hit pieces designed to trigger deep-seated emotions. Everything you know about them would come from position pieces, speeches, and what others say. Furthermore, nobody would ever again win an election because they outspent their opponent during the campaign.

In a democracy, the majority rules. It doesn't always work out the way people in minority positions want, but one hopes that the greater good is served. A large majority of Americans want control over assault weapons. They also overwhelmingly want the right for women to have legal abortions. Many other issues are left either unaddressed or pushed in the wrong direction by minority interests because of politicians who are working the current system. They don't need to care about the majority, so they don't.

Running publicly funded elections would be easy. Anyone filing for office would get a relatively small amount of money prior to gaining the necessary signatures to be on the ballot. If the election has a primary, candidates get a traunch of money when they get on the ballot, and another if they win the primary. 

Public funds can only be used to promote actual videos or written content by the candidate (or at least for them). Because the funding will be considerably less than what they'd receive from big donors, the Madison Avenue folks will lose interest in developing polished ads anyway. Even if they wanted to give away their services, they couldn't because that would be an illegal campaign donation.

It might take some time, but eventually, a new kind of politician would emerge. This new breed will prove very different and highly successful against the old guard who haven't embraced the new reality. The new breed will target popular issues and deliver tangible results. They will look more like "heroes of the people" and less like "backroom dealers." Greedy corporations would quickly lose favor in Washington, D.C. There's only so much time before corporate interests boil us to death. Oh, the issues we'd solve!

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