Democracy FOR SALE

The Corporate Managed Society

As commercial power and influence continue to strengthen and spread throughout the world many democratic governments are moving from their intended purpose of servants to their people. Citizen discontent is on the rise, and if the trend is allowed to continue in this manner, long term serious negative implications lie ahead for the world and its inhabitants.

Consumerism in the affluent areas of the globe is rampant even as pollution runs out of control and nature is being trashed. And the 'good life' is not so good for the many who have not benefited from the expansion in commerce and have little, or live in poverty. Nor is it necessarily an achievement for those who have been mesmerized into acquiring material goods recklessly and are willing to sacrifice their time and principles, their health and well being in return.

In countries where commerce has too much influence in the nation's affairs, business has become the primary concern of politicians, their citizens secondary. This evolving business - government - citizen social structure increasingly results in corporate success and satisfaction, and people's dissatisfaction if they are not connected.

Corporations are strongly influencing the way we live; the clothes, cars, homes and other products we acquire, the services we use and how we interact socially. As they grow bigger and more powerful and extend around the globe can they eventually hold more power than governments? Are we near there now?

In competing very aggressively with each other for market share, business ethic has deteriorated badly. Sly and dishonest, powerful marketing spreads into every corner of our daily lives. It is continually in our faces convincing us to buy more, even though most of us have more than enough of so many things. Even though the purchases so often turn out to be useless waste providing no social value and at nature's expense.

This persuade-consume routine has turned so many of us into materialistic apostles. It degrades civilization and nature as it balloons unabated in the richer countries - even while billions live in extreme poverty. And how will the emerging economies emerge? Mahatma Gandhi expressed concern long ago; "God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the west... keeping the world in chains. If our nation took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts."

But the consumption expansion has great strength behind it with the powerful business conglomerates pushing their agenda onward. They have well established methods for continuing and expanding their influence on the nation's affairs, and now have their efforts directed toward the entire world.

Lobbying is influencing in the decisions made by legislators and officials in the government. Corporations have money and they stack the cards in their favor. But bribing or coercing is wrong, is bad ethic and is harming society.

Control of the media by business interests is a most worrisome social development. Ownership of news, advertising and other programming is a powerful force used to direct consumer habits and social trends. News stories can be greatly influenced by the corporations that own the media or support it with advertising contracts, and they can reject and promote issues to their advantage. They can also persuade on topics and promote products and services with massive heavily funded advertising campaigns steering trends in a direction where it will be of the most benefit to business and the bottom line.

The multinational corporation conducts business in other countries but for the main purpose of a return of profits to the home country, the company's coffers, and the shareholders' pockets. It is easy to see how the foreign state, its environment and the workers could be taken advantage of or abused. The head office can disassociate itself from humane and environmental problems when they create a new foreign company.

This is not what democracy is supposed to be yet it is difficult to see a positive change in direction and a lessening of the corporate power in our lives. Public attention to this deteriorating state of social well being has been minimal because it is already so deeply entrenched; we feel helpless against this strong tide and have become complacent. Corporations and their corporate media will resist and even confront positive changes if this would result in less profit.

Public attitudes can change and bring forth positive ideas and actions if the media bias can be restructured and new strong public media established. And perhaps the internet will be the source for information and action plans to reverse a worsening social sickness. As a sign that this could happen there are numerous social advocacy websites and blogs appearing which could create public demand for positive change. But will the internet freedom be lost as other freedoms have?

Hopefully, somehow, the quality and ethic of business people and politicians will take a positive turn. The enacting and enforcing of strong legislation to benefit all citizens in a healthy and just manner must be the standard.

Unrestrained, where will the corporate giants take future generations? So much has already been lost.

"The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts." - Edmund Burk

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