Fighting Corporate America;

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Jamie Court’s Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom… And What You Can Do About It is full of fighting words.

USA Today

Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom and What You Can Do About It, by Jamie Court; Tarcher/Putnam 322 pages, $24.95.
Like that great moment in the movie Network, Court is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. And, he writes, neither should anyone else.

In the foreword, Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine; Stupid White Men) tells us, “If corporations were people, this would be their time of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, there’s no Betty Ford Clinic for corporations.”

Corporations have perfected what the author calls “corporate transcendence,” which has transformed them from impersonal bureaucratic institutions to companies imbued “with personalities and distinct values.” So Allstate has morphed into “The Good Hands People,” McDonald’s “Loves to See You Smile” and General Electric “Brings Good Things to Life.”

Yet, the truth is that commercial gain has trumped people’s lives and individual, social and cultural gain, Court says. The corporate world, he writes, uses guile and stealth to “routinely and quietly rob us of our personal freedoms, including privacy, security, the right to legal recourse and more.”

U.S. corporations spend more than $1 trillion a year on marketing nationally and globally to present a world view that “brings into focus or blurs, promotes fictions or facts that benefit one’s interests and fades out facts that” don’t.

We are bombarded with more than 35,000 commercials a year, and the saturation continues through logos and labels.

With the crush of mergers and consolidation, meaningful choices for customers continue to diminish. And corporations continue to aggressively target children.

It is no accident that Corporate America has such vast power, given that it has immeasurably improved living conditions and produced amenities that have introduced an unparalleled level of comfort and convenience into everyday living.

But people can’t seem to shake a sense of disquiet.

One poll conducted in 2000 showed that while Americans credited corporations with being the basis of their economic prosperity, almost 75% of this same group said they felt corporations had too much power over other parts of their lives.

Court asks a series of questions calculated to jar readers into wondering if, for example, a company has much integrity if it cheats individuals in their billing statements.

Court suggests we need a whole new vocabulary to combat “the amorphous nature of the modern corporation. … There is no Bastille to storm, no physical structure to target, no apparent basis for attack.”

Activist Naomi Klein goes a step further in an article in The Nation magazine: “What do we hold onto when so much that is powerful is virtual — currency trades, stock prices, intellectual property and arcane trade agreements?”

Moore’s take: “As of this writing, there’s privacy for the corporation, not the individual; full legal rights for Corporate America, not the consumer; bankruptcy protection for Enron but not the average investors who lost their life savings by investing in Enron stock … voicemail hell, credit card bait and switches, television commercials playing in the urinal.”

Consumer Watchdog
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