A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sticking It To "The Man": What You Can Do to Fight Corporate Greed

by Sheri

I know "the man" is an outdated term on several levels. But, it gives me such an amusing image of somebody sitting in midst of incense and... all the other stereotypical activities of the 70s.  Which brings me to another topic: this particular post keeps tempting me to talk about things that I don't want my daughters to read. I keep imagining them reading over my shoulder and asking awkward questions, (What's pot, Mommy? What does that word mean and why shouldn't we say it?)  So, I am doing a little self editing here. Some of you no doubt will immediately realize, for example, that when I say "baloney" below I am really thinking something else. But, you never know who is going to read this, so baloney it is.
Back to "the man". When I use this phrase I am talking of those who have the power in our society, which also equals those who have the money. There is clearly economic injustice in our world and I think many of us are getting a bit fed up with it. So, here are a few of my thoughts on what we can do about it.

1. Give to Charity:  Probably not where you were expecting me to go, but this is important. There is a message out there that says,"In order to stimulate the economy, consumers need to go out and spend, spend, spend!"  Instead, buy what you need, save for emergencies, and then give to charity.  Giving is guaranteed to stimulate the economy.  Since the recipients can't afford to tuck the currency away, they are certain to spend the money on goods and services.  Giving to charity increases consumer confidence  when fewer folks are living in destitution.  And it is a most excellent way to shrink the government: less need for social services if charities have all the resources they need.  Giving to charity increases compassion and decreases consumerism.  It is an all around win.

2.  Write Off Your Politicians: We are continuously encouraged to write our politicians.  I am not saying this is a bad idea although I do question the efficacy.  The responses I have received to my letters make it clear they were never read.  But go ahead and write your politicians.  However, we need to remember that our politicians have little control over a system that supports their very existence.  If they fight the system, they will be removed or rendered ineffective.  Furthermore, when we focus on politicians and politics we get side tracked by bipartisan bickering.  Whether the republicans are right or the democrats is not the point. We need to focus our attention on the roots of the problem.

3. Explore Alternative News Sources:  Whether you are a fan of Fox News or MSNBC, the very fact that you can be a fan of one over and against the other makes it clear that unbiased news does not reign in our world.  For the news to be reported in such different ways makes it clear that someone is being influenced.  To assume that your preferred news is the only unbiased news around is extremely naive.  Peruse the news from entirely different sources, such as from other countries, to give yourself a different perspective.

4. Polish Your Baloney Detector:  Divisive language, fear mongering, and name calling are pervasive in our world.  Reports on politics nearly always boil down to "Democrats say..." vs.  "Republicans say..."  It seems like many of the folks on the news have forgotten lessons they should have learned in Kindergarten: it is not nice to call people names. Seriously, it is insulting to me that all we have to do is call some protestors "hippies" and we can dismiss an entire movement ( I am referring to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  If you haven't heard about it, these are some people trying to stand up to "the man" for better or worse.) Or we can attach the name Obama to something and depending on your political leanings it is either automatically wonderful or automatically evil. I find it so condescending that it is assumed such tactics will work. I find it equally disheartening that they so often do. Let's really listen to each other and use our minds.  When we hear name calling, labeling, or focusing on partisan politics our baloney detectors should go off big time.

5.  Boycott Corporate Greed:  I was going to propose that we boycott any company whose CEO makes more than $3,000,000 a year.  I am all for rewarding intelligence, hard work, creativity and the like.  Still, I refuse to believe that anyone is 100 times more intelligent, hard working and creative than the average teacher. However, after a little research I discovered that some of us would have difficulty eating if we boycotted all those companies (In smaller towns this would often involve all the grocery stores and discount stores and since Farmer's Markets in such places aren't year round...no food.)  Even doubling that amount to $6,000,000 a year wouldn't help much.  It is completely obnoxious how much these people get paid.  We may not be able to boycott them all but we can buy locally when possible, buy fair trade when possible, avoid chain stores and chain restaurants, and be aware of the glaring economic injustice all around us.  At the very least, claims that executives deserve this type of wage should set off baloney detectors.

I have my own political bias for sure but over the years we have had any combination of Republican or Democrat President and Republican or Democrat dominated Senate and House.  While there have been some differences none of them have addressed the underlying problems.  And, all their combined efforts have gotten us where we are today.  We need to stop the focus on bipartisan politics and focus on where the money and the power are.  These are my few humble suggestions.  What are yours?  Let's stick it to "the man", man.


Charlene said...

YES! And...blog about it. :)

Boycotting all those large corporations is more a journey and lifestyle change than a momentary protest, I think, but I also think it's worthwhile. If not to "stick it to The Man", to enrich your own life. Because it certainly will do that.

Lynn Schlosser said...

Amen and Amen!! I can't for the life of me figure out why we keep allowing politicians and media outlets to do our thinking for us. Enough is enough! If we all took seriously your suggestions, a grassroots movement could go a long ways towards correcting so many wrongs. As always, it begins with us and our choices.

Charlene said...

A couple more ideas:

Transfer your accounts from the large banks that brought down the economy to a local credit union, or at least a small local bank.

Don't depend on the large corporation for a job; start your own business doing something you love.

Sheri Ellwood said...

Charlene, I think you are right on about this being a life journey. Sometimes I have the energy to do the research and make decisions and sometimes I don't. But every time I find that energy I add one more adjustment to my lifestyle that just might make the world a better place. I also like your other suggestions and would add that we all can help out by supporting such small businesses. Lynn, thanks and I hope we are starting to see the stirrings in our world that will lead to just such a grassroots movement!

Anonymous said...

I really like your point about giving to charity.

I have to disagree a little bit about the high paid company executives. It's not entirely about being 100 times smarter, or working 100 times harder. Like anything else, these salaries are based on what the market will bear. Companies want the most talented and qualified people at the helm to give them an advantage, and they are willing to pay for it. If our company was voting as to whether they wanted to pay extra millions to our current CEO, or have me be the CEO for a smaller salary, I would not have a chance. Kudos to those who position themselves for such salaries. I pray that they will be generous with their wealth, and that they will find balance in their lives. I also pray that some of our politicians will come to realize that small tax increases for these people is a reasonable way to help reduce our deficit.

Sheri Ellwood said...

There is certainly more going on with CEO salaries than just their skill and hard work. I realize the business world is competing for the best of the best. Makes business sense to a point but I think there must be more going on here. For example, I recently read statistics that indicate while American CEO's average 400 times the salaries of their workers in other countries CEO's are paid less than 100 times the salaries of workers. Why is America's ratio so much larger? Additionally CEO's receive their high salaries and bonuses even after they steer their companies to a position where they need bailouts. If they were truly the best of the best surely they could do better than that! Something more is out of whack here. I don't have the mind for business or politics to say what, but it sure sets of my baloney detector!
I am glad we agree on the taxes and charity stuff though. So, we'll focus on that:)