Thursday, January 10, 2013

BIG CORPORATIONS HAVE RUINED AMERICA

We hear it so often: Big corporations determine, through their massive financial and political power, virtually everything the government does or does not do.  As a result, the rich only get richer while the majority of us are progressively worse off, true democracy in America is a chimera, and our country as the “City on the Hill” is but a memory of either what once was or could have been, depending on your politics.

Because of the power the big banks and other greedy corporations wield, millions of hard-working Americans cannot find a job, millions have lost their homes, and even more millions can’t afford health care.  All of this against a backdrop of record multi-billion dollar profits for the corporations, with compensation for top executives running into the tens of millions annually, in no small part made possible by government subsidies and bailouts.  Just this week, $27 million – minimum guaranteed - over three years for a Padres player I’ve never even heard of.  (Yep, pro sports in America is nothing if not Big Business). 

Big Business defeats legislative changes that would give us healthier food, more fuel efficient cars, affordable health care, fewer Columbines and Auroras, and a decent living wage.  It promotes income inequality and social division, crass materialism, and devalues true art for art’s sake.  Big corporations have ruined America, and most of us – the little guys and gals – are merely powerless pawns, manipulated for their greater aggrandizement.

Sort of. 

Big corporations DO have way too much power over America and its people, and their endless search for greater earnings, at almost any cost, disgusts me.  But I disagree with the implicit message that commonly follows this type of thinking:  That (1) it’s the corporations’ fault (not ours), and that (2) there’s not much the little guy can do about it. 

Look – businesses exist to make profits, and they do so by convincing us to give them their money.  It’s OUR job to be careful with our money, to say “No!” to business more often than not.  I have a big problem accepting that it is our lot in life to pay $200 a month so we can chat and text endlessly on our cell phones day and night.  I reject the premise that somebody forced Americans to buy bigger, more expensive cars and houses than they need or can afford.  I call bullshit on the claim that people don’t have time to fix a decent cup of coffee in the morning or to cook, and therefore they’re forced to spend $4 on a Starbucks Vente Mocha each morning and eat fast food crap for lunch and dinner.  I don’t understand why they have to buy designer jeans or handbags or polo shirts and whatnot at prices 2 or 3 or 10 times higher than what a perfectly serviceable generic substitute would cost.  I say it’s just plain stupid that the average American household has zero savings and an average $16,000 in credit card debt, as a result of decisions such as these. 

How in the hell did Americans get so gullible, so ignorant?  When and why did we abrogate our responsibility to spend wisely, to say “No!” to spending decisions that people 50 years ago would never dreamed of making, to limit corporations’ ability to take advantage of us? 

Decisions like those have played a key role in allowing Big Business to become so powerful.  Verizon and Cadillac and Starbucks and Donald Trump and Nordstroms and McDonalds wouldn’t be nearly so large, not nearly so powerful, if we hadn’t voluntarily opened our wallets and invited them to take whatever they want.  Even on the lower end, WalMart – the world’s largest corporation – has prospered not by selling us higher-quality (and priced) goods than we need, but have become immensely powerful by selling us a greater quantity of goods than what we really need.  So it’s our endless search for more and better controlling us that has given power and money to Big Business.

This is not to give the businesses themselves – and our political leaders – a pass.  Shameless advertising tactics that appeal to our baser emotions have been perfected over the years.  Predatory business practices have similarly been improved, to great effect.  Investors have focused more and more on short-term profits rather than ethical actions and long-term value. Meanwhile, governments on all levels have allowed big corporations to flourish via a number of active means: subsidies, bailouts, bribes, waivers, as well as passively by failing to pass and enforce legislation that might better control business excesses. 

But the buck stops, or should stop, with the individual – with us.  We’re the ones who should and can have the power.  Not in every case, of course, but to a great enough degree to not be mere pawns, jerked around by the corporations.  Why aren’t we the ones who are jerking them around?  This takes us to my second main point of the essay.

Putting it into a first-person perspective, my wife and I are regular old, middle-class folks.  We don’t come from a privileged background; never had high-paying jobs (OK – there were a few pretty good years when we had business careers a long time ago).  Yet as people of modest means, we live really good lives.  And we don’t feel at all like Big Business’s helpless bitches.  In fact, we take advantage of what the big corporations offer, so it’s more like we're the boss of them.  I realize that what follows is going to sound like bragging, but it’s the way to make a point, so bear with me.

Our 3-bedroom house in a decent neighborhood will be paid off in 3 years.  We both own vehicles made in 2012; both cost only about $20,000 but are great cars.  There's nobody we need to impress by driving a $50,000 Lexus or Escalade.  We play (and win) the car dealers’ own weekend ad game every time we buy, and we get sweet deals as a result.  One car is paid off, we owe about half on the other one. 

I love hunting, fishing, and surfing, so I own over a dozen nice guns, about 15 fishing rods/reels, and half a dozen boards; something for every type of hunting, fishing, surfing.  Plus all the necessary gear to go along with those things.  They’re $600 guns with $200 scopes, though, not $2500 guns with $1000 glass; $250 rods/reels, not $700 ones.  I make the boards myself for $250-$300, rather than spend $600-$1500 for them.  But they all look good and work just fine; just as good as the big ticket guns/poles/boards. I go on one or two out of state hunting trips and a few tuna fishing trips each year, along with occasional salmon or trout fishing trips and surfing just about every weekend (neck problems permitting).

Apart from those trips, though, we enjoy traveling, so each year we go to Europe or Asia or Hawaii or whatever for a few weeks.  We usually fly Business or First class, paying little for airfare and for about half of our hotel rooms, using frequent flier miles to get those.  The miles come from paying for virtually everything on credit cards, which cost us basically nothing since we pay off our entire bill each month.  Thank you airlines, hotel chains, big banks, and credit card companies!

We both enjoy good food, so we both cook: chicken, ribs, seafood, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, whatever.  Almost everything is made from scratch, using natural, raw ingredients.  Following doctor’s orders, we usually have a glass of red wine with dinner; often as not, “2 buck Chuck”.  We used to be big wine snobs, but not anymore; we just can’t tell much difference between Chuck and a $30 bottle.  We rarely eat out, not only because the cost is ridiculous, but because the food usually just isn’t better than what we fix at home.  Morning coffee comes from a can of Yuban and a pint of half-and-half at home, not from a trip to Starbucks or 7-11.  We eat VERY well, and in ways that don’t add much to corporate bottom lines.

My jeans come from WalMart or K-Fart, and cost $10 or $12, or from thrift stores and garage sales, which is where my wife buys a lot of my shirts for $2 or $3.  Ditto for her clothes; when she was in the business world, most of her $200-$300 suits were from those places and cost $20 or $30.  But you couldn’t tell; they looked professional and good as new.      

We’ve got 2 flat-screen TVs, a good sound system, 3 laptops and 1 desktop computers, nice artwork around the house, a 3-piece leather sofa set, an antique oak dining table and China cabinet – you get the idea.

And almost no debt.  In fact, other than 3 years of remaining house payments and about $10,000 on one car, we have no debt whatsoever.  What we do have though, are healthy savings accounts, along with even healthier personal retirement accounts.  If either of us were to die, if I were to lose my job tomorrow, if I never got a dime from my pension or Social Security – our lives wouldn’t change much financially. 

We’ve been lucky.  Despite family tragedies and some bad career moves, we haven’t had any financial, health, or legal disasters – thank God.  But mostly – mostly we’re in the rather comfortable situation we’re in because (geez, how do I say this tactfully?) we’re not f#@*ing idiots.  We didn’t spend more than we earned, we didn’t fall for all the marketing hype, we didn’t care much about keeping up with the Joneses or impressing the Smiths, and we saw the corporate world as worthy adversaries, capable of benefiting us if approached wisely.  Please understand - I'm happy, even proud - to be in this situation.  But the point is not to brag, but to show how one has a choice, how a regular person doesn't need to be a pawn at the mercy of big business.  If we could do it, so can most other Americans.

So I reject the “poor me!” mentality that says the big corporations run the world and the little guy can’t get ahead.  Maybe they run it and maybe they don’t; if they do, then the typical American and their foolish decisions over the last four decades are a big part of why that’s the case.  But it almost doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned.  I can’t do much about the international implications of our military-industrial complex - granted.  Big corporations CAN have more power and influence than we'd like in some cases.  In my little corner of the world though, we’ve managed to eke out a sweet life in spite of, because of, or whatever of, Big Business.  And that’s not so bad.

44 comments:

Alex Tam said...

The statement about Americans being over-provided is true on a daily basis. Although I don't know if population growth contributed to the over-production of clothes, junk food, and other sorts of products, Americans should definitely resort to cost-efficient goods and learn to become aware on "cook or pay" situations. Big corporations are becoming stronger due to the unchanging behaviors of Americans, and I don't want to end up like them. The essay tried to defend one of its positions by having its author to provide his background information and efficient products he bought. While it may seem effective, how can one trust the internet where everyone can make their own background?

adam wright said...

Americans think that big businesses control us, which they do, and control the government as well, which they do also. But i think, as Mr. Strebler stated, that we don't have to let them, but the complete opposite. I like how you gave thorough examples of how someone can efficiently live, make money, and prosper, all giving thanks to the businesses. Their credit cards, flier miles, and hotels have all allowed you to be able to not only live, but take a well deserved vacation for practically nothing. These big businesses have tried, and succeeded, in manipulating the minds of Americans to thinking that they have to have this or that; but we don't. this essay was well structured in proving the point that big businesses, although running our country, can actually benefit us if we learn to not follow the trends and fads. If we really want to get away from these businesses, which most people don't because they want the brand name, we can, and we can be the small man who can get away from it.

Ismaeel said...

Our reliance on these corporations are a direct result of our ideologies and how we were raised. Believing that we needed the next best thing as opposed to being satisfied with what we have. These billion dollar companies exploit these weaknesses through marketing and advertising, creating the desire of purchasing these luxury goods. The effects these companies have in our lives and society in general are often negative, as they limit merit goods in society so that oil and pharmaceutical companies can profit. It takes an ideological change to realize the effects of our actions, and change our decisions in order to take control.

Gabriela Peralta said...

Big Corporations do in fact control us, that a valid statement that Mr.Strebler supported.Yes, the government does have a big part in this big corporation issue because as Mr. Strebler said in his essay, they support big corporation with subsidies and things of the sort. I agree that we cannot let them control us and if we do let them then we cannot say "poor me" because that will not cut it. More and more Americans today are falling into debt for foolish things, such as expensive, yet unnecessary, clothing, furniture, or even jewelry. This essay also reminds me of the song "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore.

Aaron Cruz said...

Americans believe that big corporations are to blame for the loss of jobs and homes. However I believe that Politicians are to blame for these problems due to their incapability to solve the deficit problem and end the recession as well as their reliance on tax payers money. I also believe that the American people are also to blame due to their excessive spending and their lack of control.
I also believe that big corporations are important in American society for the growing economy.

Haley Sweet said...

Materialism is if anything an extreme outdated defense mechanism, the more people have the safer they seem to feel, and this is evident in many Americans.I say outdated because I agree with Mr. Strebler's premise that big businesses only control you as much as you are willing to allow. Although I do find myself disagreeing on the point that consumers are blindly being convinced that they need to buy things. There's no denying that people are idiots but I believe they have come to these idiotic conclusions on their own thanks to a sense of materialism firmly rooted in their upbringing. This is why I don't think it's a simple matter of people making more economic choices when they're out shopping or being happy with what they have, I think it's learning that they don't need things to feel a sense of security in their life.

Anonymous said...

It's true that Big Businesses control America. But the American people would be lying if we called ourselves the victims. Our consumer society is based on the power that we GIVE (freely) to these corporations to make decisions for us. In our society, many don't know what they want until businesses tell them. This reliance that we have on Businesses to decide where we spend OUR money is ridiculous.
It's true that Big corporations have ruined America, but only because we let them. It's that simple. Most Americans lack the basic economic education to make simple decisions about where to spend their money. We live in a country founded on the principles of free market but this capitalistic society needs a wake-up call.
--Franny Suarez

monserrat lopez said...

What would we be without these BIG CORPORATIONS? Can one person really make a difference?
Other then the obvious, if you don't have money don't spend, the possible advantage that the people without debt would include: education, attention to detail, organizational skills, great role models, and a healthier living style.
Yet there many families who had all of this but still are in debt... this is caused by inability to understand the language, physically handicapped(partially or fully blind), and as you mentioned earlier gullible. My main concern here is that these "gullible" people may just have a high trust in humans, which seems crazy is true (coming from queen gullible).
When individuals enter the "real world" there s so much possibilities thrown out at them, Credit cards, Bills, Jobs Etc. Its hard to keep track of your debts... why? because of interest, its sad but true so many people still don't understand the concept of interest!
Big corporations are efficient, clean, quick, and cheap. Image if all us "little guys" tried to start to farm, to create our own clothing. Sure it could be done, but that isn't want the American people would side with. Plus, even if people start to avoid big firms and chains wont our GDP suck since, in U.S., Consumer part is the biggest part!!
Since our trendy boom in the 1950's citizens in different countries "iran" started to idolize the U.S., which not only brings back the idea of "up on a hill" but pushes it forward.
Own country is built on appearance, "best quality" and "most common objects".

With that in mind it is important to recognize just how ironic it is for americans to support individuality but judge, to say that creating a stronger bond with families is best but would laugh if you owned a small business with your family. Its business suicide.

You mentioned that a Padres player was payed this ridiculous amount of money to play for the city although i agree i would like to see the money distributed elsewhere (like to me and my family) but just how can a baseball measure the extreme physical workouts, the long hours, the limited diets, and best of all that "win" for the fans.
This unknown player is spoiled and did make the life changing choice but i think the idea that "one person can change the world" would apply best for these guys.
He could donate to a charity, help small business, spread advertisement about alternatives to big corporations.

Frieda Curtis said...

Big corporations are not the only cause of our problems. Although they are very influential and powerful, there are many more people involved. The quest for more and better is a vice that many people have to struggle with. Sometimes quality is better, and sometimes it's not. Oftentimes consumers are tricked into thinking something is higher quality so they will spend more money when that is actually not the case. If we learn how to, we can turn the tide in our favor and use the big businesses to benefit ourselves. It comes down to the amount of information individuals have about this and how willing they are to make the effort to change the way they consume.

Natalie Fuller said...

I can’t completely agree with the statement that big businesses control the American people, but in some ways it is true. One example that I can remember from the Econ classes during TOK last year, was the huge demand for large cars and trucks back in the mid 2000's. Those big car dealerships glorified the idea of a sports truck and a “cool” family vehicle. One thing I can not agree with is that the “little guys” are perpetually in a bad economic situation. Many Americans know that the economy of the United States is based and lies upon consumerism. And who better controls that than the consumers themselves. It is ignorance which blocks Americans from realizing who controls who. But then again, it is the larger businesses who manipulate the expectations and tastes of the consumers. One day Americans and in general people will learn that they do not have to submit themselves to this image which we call “society,” where we must buy and consume what she tells us to.

Anonymous said...

The big corporations of America, in a sense, have ruined America. American citizens have been the main target in big corporation's tactics because we are so obsessed with having what is new and being up-to-date in technology and fashion. The amount of money that flows into the fashion industry, for example, is rediculously high and all that wasted money on designer jeans could be used for savings and future necessary use. America needs more people who are aware of their financial state and can control their spending without buying more than the necessites, although a few perks here or there is not bad every once in a while. If everyone in America was to boycott the unnecessary, expensive items that are being bought on a regular basis than America awould be such a beter country for it. Maybe not econimcally but it would definately give the public the uuper hand on big corporations who literally have control over most Americans with their hypnotic promotional tactics. The need to seem rich and fancy is greater than the wanting to be true to oneself and know the boundaries of spending and buy only the necessities.
-Trystan Colburn

Jared Creamer said...

I found this essay very interesting and it really changed some of my views on this topic. However, while stating many good facts it seems like you focus mostly on how you personally overcome this situation. As I got further into the essay it almost seems as if you are beginning to brag about how you overcome this problem instead of keep informing us about his problem. Overall, it was a very entertaining essay and I enjoyed it.

Justin Phan said...

The big corporations of America do have a vast influence on the country and its people. However, I agree to an extent that this may not necessarily be the fault of those companies themselves, but the blame can also be directed toward the poor "victims" to these big corporations. As stated, Mr. Strebler lives a life of satisfaction, away from this nonsense. How? By making decisions that produce the most benefit for him and don't necessarily play victim to the hands of the big corporations. I'm sure many others are able to live like so, but there are also many out there who are largely influenced by these enormous companies and their large investments in advertising. Yet at the same time, does buying cost - efficient products really stop the big corporations?

Garret Pina said...

I do believe big corporations have way too much power/control over America. Owners of these companies earn a lot of money and are above the rest. With this money they can live their life with great success that many of us wish we could have. “I disagree with the message that commonly follows this type of thinking: “That (1) it’s the corporations’ fault (not ours), and that (2) there’s not much the little guy can do about it. “ This is a great quote and I agree with it. People think that it’s not are fault (people of America) for these corporations to control America, but it’s mainly our fault. One person can make a difference by joining a union and not falling for advertisements.
The main objectives of Businesses are to make money, and they do so by convincing us to give them their money (advertisement). It’s our job to be careful with our money, or in other words to say “No!” We are the ones giving them power over us allowing them to do what they want. A good example of businesses taking over society is the company of Verizon Wireless. People that have a regular cell phone, it doesn’t cost them much. These people who pay for their IPhones 40 dollars a month to have Internet capability pay way too much for what they feel they need. People buy into these things that they feel they cant ever live without. This needs to change, hopefully people realize it soon before its to late.

Ella monroy said...

the truth of the matter is that yes, corporations are a big part of us and do have control over the government, but it is our decisions as an individual what we do with our money, no on eputs a gun to our head and makes us buy that meal you could'v easily made at home which would've probably tasted better anyways, it is our being easily manipulated that made us buy a product or not make a smart choice, and in turn blame it on the sneaky tactics of big corporations trying to take our money.

Brigid Moran said...

Big corporations did not appear overnight and take control of our economy, we let them. The rich continue to cause problems for the rest of us by using their power to help themselves.
I think that your method of buying seemed like a good idea. You don’t go without anything (nice food, clothes, vacations, cars), but you are smart about what you buy, and where you buy it. Often I hear that the solution to our problems is to end materialism, but I believe that we simply need to be more careful about who we are giving our money to. After all, we vote with what we buy. If we send the message to corporations that we will happily buy products we do not need at outrageous prices, then that is what we will continue to be offered.

Anonymous said...

This essay touched upon some major problems that affect our country as a result of big business and our governments dependence on it. The issue of jobs (or lack of), food productions, renewable energies, and healthcare are all covered. Millions of people have lost jobs as a result of big business cutting costs to increase their profit. This type of backwards economics trouble me because how is our consumer population going to increase to fund these big businesses if we can't keep our people employed! It also touches upon the issue of household debt and overspending. Americans are very materialistic and we live in excess because we feel that social status is too important. We often rack up crazy credit card debt that we can't pay back because we are too impatient to save and do it the right way or at the very least only use credit that we can afford to pay back. Basically, we need to live modest lives and we won't fall victim to big business.
-Leslie Simoni

Max LaMonte said...

Politics and money, have been connected for a long time, perhaps even from the advent of one group of people controlling the greater population. In Romman Politics at the height it's Empire, the Optimates or the "best men" were the faction that served the interests of the wealthy. Populares, or the party of the people, represnted by the Assembly of the Tribes and a few Senators, has since been reduced to the senators. Now it seems that Senate seats and government positions are littered with ex-executives of big-buck corporations like Monsanto or Wal Mart. While the almighty-dollar is a power wielded by the consumer, it is only as powerful as we are united. There is no true voice behind the money we spend unless we know what it's saying. The 2 dollar t-shirts your wife buys you, are saying YOU want the businesses shipping goods into the U.S. that were made in _____ (fill in the blank)with slave labor, to succeed and therefore have more influence. As long as people are idiots (unlike yoursleves) they will continue to take the cheap choice either because they're cheap or their financial situation forces them to. More often than not it is the cheap choices that are made, because most of us aren't lucky or knowledgable enough to be in the position to choose Organic or buy American or buy Eco-Friendly products. Our socio-economic position forces us to choose the product that serves us wrong sometimes, and people can't help but feel "poor me".
-Max LaMonte

Lauren Cook said...

While big businesses are somewhat to blame, I agree with the point that Americans need to take responsibility for their expenses and stop blaming somebody or something else besides themselves. Big businesses have money, and money equals power. However, the American people don't have to be a part of that; like Mr. Strebler said, 'the buck stops with the individual.' The personal examples given help make the argument more valid instead of simply spewing facts and figures or empty speculation.
-Lauren Cook

Michael said...

The funny thing is you actually prove that corporations have ruined the economy just by what you said in trying to "overcome" this situation. There's the problem right there...they ruined America because to get by we have to "overcome' the situation. The thing is you should be angry about that. The fact that you, and everyone else, have to get cheaper crap to get by IS the problem. You have to get $2 used clothes just to make it. That right there IS the problem. We shouldn't have to do that. Back in the day, our parents could be making minimum wage and live nicely, now, if parents are making minimum wage, there is no way they can, that is the problem, that is where corporate greed has gotten us.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we have the power to choose what we buy. When people say that corporations are evil or whatever I don't think they mean that they're blaming corporations for their inability to balance their personal budget. The frustration people have with corporations is that they have finagled their way out of paying due taxes and have pushed against regulations that protect people and the environment. Take the California state budget for example, the current "budget crisis" is concurrent with some of the best profit years for corporations. Yes, like most political issues, the campaign against corporations has been oversimplified. However, it is also a vast oversimplification to simply say that big business has too much power in America.

You point to you and your wife as an example of responsible spenders. No doubt that you are, but in looking at the reasons for which others aren't there are more reasons than paying for unnecessary goods and services. When we look, for example, at low income people of poverty, their situation is created through structural inequalities that are compounded by the internalization of neoliberalism (which makes people think they need to spend spend spend). If you were a black woman without access to higher education, how would your ability to make ends meet be different?

Yes, people need to spend more responsibly. But to do so is not enough. We must also consider the power structures (neoliberalism, capitalism, corporatism) that cause poverty. We must also consider how our own privileges have benefited us (whiteness, male gendered bodies, living in the US) and disenfranchised others.

It is not corporations in and of themselves that are the problem, but they are definitely part of the problem. Fighting back is not as simple as making lifestyle changes. Fighting back means changing the way we think about the world and our place in it: and working to change policies.

James Howell said...

Big corporations in America have been targets of much blame for America’s problems in recent years. Americans these days like to point their fingers at the faceless industrial giants for their problems, and bout words like, “greed,” “dishonest,” and “evil.” Those words can meet the character of big business often, but at the end of the day, big corporations are just people making a living by meeting the demand of consumers (the people blaming big corporations) while finding ways to do it better than other businesses, big or small. It is the consumers who dictate what products they buy and how they are made, because everything businesses do is tailored to meeting the demand and satisfaction of the consumer. This response to the idea of “big corporations run the world” is reflected well in Mr. Strebler’s essay, “Big Corporations have Ruined America,” where Mr. Strebler shares his perspective of the consuming habits of Americans and the power of big corporations.

Taylor Bird said...

Although I don not agree with a lot of what you state in the essay I do agree on the final idea that Big Corporations are indeed ruining America which is an unfortunate circumstance, but it is kind of unavoidable because human nature takes over at a certain point. Its like a parent telling a teenager to stay home and behave, any teenager will as a reaction rebel and try to become their own person and do the complete opposite. If you try to work against the big cooporations they will eventually take over what you were claiming as your “safe way out”.

Lorenzo Wida said...

Big Businesses will just continue to get bigger as long as we sit around and let them control our lives. but because we have fed into it so long we really don't have much a chance of getting out of the hole and we just continue to dig it deeper. Most of what we eat, drink, and wear are made by big businesses and unless you are willing to go to the local farmers and their vegetable stands and pay 5 bucks for a small box of strawberries which normally costs 1 dollar at sprouts then we will continue to live the lives that we live. It was tactful to use your daily life choices as a way to support your position and in fact gave good insight on how one can move away from a impulse buying and unnecessary lifestyle.

Olivia Sanchez said...

After reading the blog entry on big corporations and their control over the American economy (and a majority of the culture as well) I’d have to say that I agree completely with the ideas stated. This issue is extremely similar to many other issues that Americans face, and unfortunately, many choose to complain about this and that, but yet continue to do the same thing. You made an excellent point when you noted the fact that people are STILL buying expensive brands of clothes, but then go on to say that they can’t afford college or other pricey parts of life. I believe that the underlying problem here is that American’s don’t understand how to prioritize.
In this society, people don’t care about being “comfortable” as you mentioned, but rather, are more concerned with how they measure up compared to their neighbors and colleagues. This is an extremely skewed view of the world, because eventually, everyone will get run in to the ground. You can only compete for so long, and then before you know it, you’re in debt, and these grand companies are making millions off of you and others just like you.

Unknown said...

Though it may be tempting to look at the supposed decline of society today, and reminisce the good-ol-days through rose tinted glasses, as you like to say, “it’s just not that simple.” Consumerism isn’t an idea that came with Gen X-ers or Gen Y-ers. America strayed from its Puritan ideals at the turn of the century, and it hasn’t looked back. The post-war prosperity of the 1950s, the Reagan boom in the 1980s, the tech bubble in the 1990s, and the housing bubble of the 2000s, all feed our insatiable appetite for more growth, more “stuff.” It took the Great Depression of 1929 to reform the habits of Americans following the prosperity of the “Roaring ‘20s,” but they bounced right back following WWII! And it took the “Great Recession” of 2007 to remind Americans it’s possible to make do with less, but the consumerist mindset stuck. Consumerism and materialism aren’t new ideas, and they’re here to stay, whether you like it or not.

Anna Cridlig said...

In our modern day, large corporations are powerful, wealthy, and skillful at achieving their goals--more profits from consumers. However, as Mr. Strebler points out, this does not mean that the common public is powerless against these mighty companies. One can choose to resist these influences and make more personal, wise, decisions that would avoid the consequences of over-spending, for example. An interesting observation was how these businesses flourished because people fell under their control. Unfortunately, these growths result in economic problems such as loss of specialized shops, jobs, and diversity. This is why Americans must take a stand like Mr. Strebler does, lessening the manipulation of large corporations, thus eventually reducing their power and destructive impact in the United States.

Anonymous said...

The statement that claims that people are not powerless against big cooperation's seems to be fairly accurate with your examples such as its up to the individual to limit there power. Like this statement "It’s OUR job to be careful with our money, to say “No!” to business more often than not." Although I think there are times were it is the people s fault for big corporation success and that they are too powerful i don't think it will change anytime soon.
-Lucas Hill

FerociousD said...

The best part about this is the fact that you used a computer built by a big corporations powered by electricity which is generated by a big corporation. Your sitting on a chair made by big corporations sitting in a building made of components that a big corporation made.

If Big corporations have ruined america, why is it you support these big corporations by driving a car instead of walking, eating foods which you did not grow,harvest, or hunt?

Go into the woods, knit your own cloths, make your own shoes, drink water with feces. You get my point im sure.

If your struggling and poor, apply for pell grant, learn a skill, work harder, and research what options are available to you.

My bet is you struggle because you don't take initiative, didn't become educated, overlooked an opportunity, continually blame others for your problems, or are simply incapable of achieving great things.

Your simply jealous of people that have taken initiative, became educated, have taken advantage of every opportunity they had, took responsibility for their failures and shortcomings, and were capable of achieving great things.

Jerika White said...

After reading this essay, it got me to think about how jacked up America really is. We are known as the country of freedom and being independent, yet we still are at the bottom. Not everyone may agree with me but I feel that we had so much going for us; still we still were able to somehow mess up. When The U.S Constitution was made, that was the time of a new beginning. We were doing well at first but then businesses started to come about and they eventually became very powerful.

Mishael Berrios said...

The reason all this unfairness is happening is just because we don't stand up against it and/or don't say anything at all. What these big corporations are doing is in fact legal, but it's just that they cut across every corner to get what they want and take advantage over things. One example would be from Apple, one of the biggest corporations in the world. What Apple has done is that they have moved their biggest offices to different cities or even countries so they don't have to pay as much taxes as they would in other particular places. In 2012, Apple payed a tax rate of 9.8 percent while Walmart, not much bigger of a corporation, payed a 24 percent tax rate. Apple is being greedy and leaving the rest of the taxes to us Americans. The only way we can stop this is if we actually say something.

Jasmine West said...

I agree with the argument that big business has as much power as people give them, but we could say that big business does affect some aspects of social life. A few years ago, there was an announcement of people getting cut off from television if they didn’t have a certain TV or a DVR/ TiVo. Phones start to deteriorate after a certain number of years because technology is advancing and that old phone can no longer be used. Big businesses only affect things that are of temporary uses, such as electronics, cooking materials, etc. That is how businesses work.

If everyone knew that one phone could last 10 years and not break down or upgrade itself, where is the constant flow of money to businesses going to go? It’s going to stay in the pockets of people. (Imagine the cost of electronics if they could last forever). Everyone has a part the only difference is if your part is going to resume a cycle or break a chain.

Anonymous said...

I think that the opinions expressed in the writing are mostly on par with my beliefs on the subject of Big Corporations and America. I like how the writer looks at both the upsides and downsides of Big Corporations prevalence in America today, and states that although there are a lot of downsides such large amount of control they have over our lawmakers and other things, they also bring forward many opportunities also such as using your credit card to get free flights on airlines. Which I think people who rant about corporations ruining America often forget because a lot of time they themselves also take advantage of benefits such as this.

Joshua Lopez said...

do agree. Big corporations such as Cadillac and Starbucks have ruined America. Before, you didn’t have to buy a luxury car to be cool. All people cared about before was if you had a car or not. The point of a car is to drive you places, not to show it off and make people jealous. The same thing with Starbucks. Before, you didn't have to buy Starbuck’s $6 coffee every single day. Before, you could just brew your own coffee at home or at work. This proves that big corporations such as these have ruined America.

Ingrid Olmstead said...

While I don't think that big businesses are ruining America, I do agree that it has an effect on many of the people. Big businesses are made to entice buyers and lure them in, which many people fall for. Mr. Strebler suggests that big corporations earn profits at the expense of the individual, however, one can live profitably from the benefits offered by big corporations (to those who know how to use them.) I think that it is all too common for corporations to take advantage of anyone who allows them to, which is why it is important, in this day and age, to be very cautious about letting that happen. Overall, the lesson anyone can take away is this: Be very mindful of what you invest your time and money in. Will it be big business or you?

Melinda said...

There is absolutely no reason to get yourself into debt if you don’t absolutely need something. This happens all the time – perfectly good cars are replaced with new, shiny ones. Well-functioning cell phones are replaced with newer ones with HD cameras. These things are all completely unnecessary, yet we jump at anything with the word “NEW” or “AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME” plastered on it.

I wholeheartedly agree with your standpoint: even if all of those who have suffered and are in debt are blaming their shortfalls and unfortunate losses to big corporations, they are obviously not seeing the bigger picture. Gucci representatives don’t go door to door demanding you buy their thousand-dollar accessories. Car companies don’t demand that you buy a new car every ten years. Phone companies do not require you to upgrade your cell phone every time you have the opportunity to. Sure, their companies are seducing us into buying things we don’t really need. But we are the ones making the final call.

Anonymous said...

People simply don't want to take responsibility for their own decisions, and as a result they blame the corporations for their own fault. Corporation could be seen as a scam, but the corporation's goal is merely manipulation of people into giving them their money.

BPYL

Max D'Amico said...

Big Corporations do have way too much power in America. However there is always going to be someone with more power, weather it is a teacher having more power over a student, a child’s parent telling the kid what to and what not to do, or Big Corporations striping money out of our wallets. Yet as an individual it is our job to figure out what we need versus what we want. There are always going to bigger and better upgrades and it is our jobs as individuals too not fall into the traps of every day life.

Alicia S said...

I have to say I agree with you 100%. The fact that we the people who drive these business are complaining is ironic. If we as a working class decided not to buy objects that are ten times more expensive there wouldn't be big companies destroying America. They wouldn't have the opportunity to do so. We are giving them the cards to play their hand. It's not right and if you are supporting them by buying something ten times more expensive you have no right to complain. We continue it, so why not stop it?

Matthew Twyman said...

This essay was very insightful to the mindset of, what seems to be a lower class citizen, on big corporations. It touches upon vital information and details about the working class and how there are fewer jobs because these corporations are taking up so much power and space. However this essay also acknowledges the point that it's not all the corporations fault because we the people (or the consumers) give them the power. So really we have the power to make or break them and I think that's very important to understand so this essay was very good with touching both sides.

Matthew Twyman said...

This essay gives good insight to the mindset of what seems to be a lower class citizen. It provides bias but accurate information about how the big corporations are affecting the lower class for the worse. However this essay is interesting because even though the main perspective is how big corporations are bad, it gives insight to another perspective saying that it's not their fault because it's the peoples fault or the citizens fault. I agree with this because we as consumers give them the power to do what they do. So we as the people have the power to either make them or break them.

Anonymous said...

This is one out of the few essays that I completely agree with you. I am probably one of those students that doesn't put in all the effort, but at least I admit it. I put in quite a lot, but I know I could do a little but more. However, I am not one of those low lifes that come school with one composition book. I find it amazing how much some kids don’t care about school, what do they expect to be once they graduate? Most of them surely will move onto working this fast food jobs. They want to retaliate against these big corporations but they are so little, but that fits them since they have put so little effort into life.
-Josh Hallmark

Anonymous said...

Sadly communism is NOT an alternate answer as there is no incentive for growth and the government tells you what you are to do.

It's like a farmer plants his seeds and the seeds grow into more seeds which creates more plants and he keeps some for his family while selling others and competition from other farms if big business doesn't stop it helps keep his prices lower to attract more customers.


Under communism the US government not only takes the plants but takes all the seeds as well then gives those seeds to everybody to eat so everybody is equal and doesn't have to buy them but then there is nothing to grow for the farmer so no new plants happen.



Or another scenario is you work hard for that A but the black person was lazy and only got a F so you're grade is lowered to a C to bump his up a D to be equal and he can pass despite you cramming for the finals and being eager about it.

Thus you never get that promotion you dreamed of and you're records are altered as a result.

"Oh I am sorry honey but you can't have that A so that Johnny can pass his class to be fair even though he goofed offed and partied/played video games most of the time with hot women"

Anonymous said...

We all know big corporations suck so why isn't anything being done about it other then just throwing a tantrum?

America can not last like this forever with the middle class almost non existent without breaking apart at the seams.
Sooner or later something has got to give and it's not going to be them if they can help it!



Don't big corporations realize we are the ones that buy from them and if we don't have any money due to it all being in the hands of a few it's all going to blow back in their face when they lose customers or do they have plans to bring China up a few steps and create a *Chinese* middle class in lieu of American's to try and replace the black hole that's growing fast?