Friday, May 7, 2010

The United States of America, Inc.

I just returned from the mall. I went there with my husband to buy a couple of books; one of the only worthy items for purchase that I can justify, since I recently retired from my job and have cut my income by two-thirds. Oh well. Money isn't everything. Wait.....did I just say that? This is, after all, America, the most consumer driven society of them all. If you don't have money, you're basically trash. I am trash, I guess. Fortunately, my husband has some money, so he sees me though. I've also shed my taste for designer handbags and ridiculously over-price lipstick.

I recently watched a movie, Food, Inc., which is remarkable and thought-provoking. My wish is that all Americans would watch this movie and learn it's lessons. It is a classic example of multi-national corporation's classic disregard for the American consumer. From the young boy, dead, because of food poisoning to the conditions that exist in the processing of America's food, this is a recitation of facts all Americans should be aware of. Alas, Americans aren't interested in facts, especially if those facts interfere with the great American Delusion of bigger, better, cheaper. But.....I'm getting ahead of myself.

My husband and I have eaten organic foods, almost exclusively, for the past ten years. Part of the reason for this is that I developed an autoimmune disorder which is aggravated by food chemicals and additives. Eating organic has minimized my symptoms and improved my health considerably. There are other reasons we chose to do this, not the least of which was the ethical treatment of animals. Yes, I'm an organic foodie, but I still love my meat. Especially my steak. After watching Food, Inc., I realized that I am on the right path, because the steak I eat is not, at some point, standing belly deep in it's own feces on it's way to the slaughterhouse. E-Coli, anyone? Neither is my steak raised on corn byproducts (something cattle were never naturally supposed to eat), but rather, it is fed on grass, which is it's natural food source.

There are five major food processing companies in the United States of America, Inc., and these corporations provide the majority of meat, vegetables, fruit and corn/wheat products. These companies have a callous disregard for the American consumer. That is nothing particularly new, corporate America, under the pretense of bigger, better, cheaper, has always had a cavalier attitude toward the American consumer. I ask all Americans to look at that attitude a little closer when making choices for their families. Without repeating verbatim every piece of information provided in the movie, let me just leave you with a few items that starkly stand out. The five corporations have hired illegal immigrants to work in their processing plants and slaughterhouse operations. When the same illegal immigrants complained about the working conditions (think Upton Sinclair's "Urban Jungle") the same corporations called Immigration authorities to have the workers arrested. Question: Why weren't the companies fined/arrested/brought up on charges for hiring the illegal immigrants? The United States Senate, House of Representatives and Executive Office are all fine (sometimes) and honorable (once in awhile) institutions, but the people really running this country is Corporate America.... and they don't give a rat's a-hole for you or your health. And believe me, they have plenty of rat's a-holes in their operations.

Food, Inc. See it. Believe it. Stop living it.

I haven't bought an American car in thirty years. There's a simple reason for this. American cars are junk. From the exploding Ford Pinto of the 70's to the bailout of Detroit in 2009, American car makers have failed to manufacture a car that will stand up to accidents, economics, or the test of time. From my bank account to my personal safety, GM and Ford have trampled all over the American consumer. My first Toyota (and yes, I'm aware of Toyota's current recalls and issues), ran for 250,000+ miles. I paid $5,000 for it, used, with 25,000 miles on it. I had it for ten years. I gave it away, and my brother-in-law drove it for another two years. I make this point, because I challenge anyone to tell me a story like that about their Buick LeSabre. American car manufacturers put out a piece of crap, charge $25,000 for it, and expect the consumer, in five years, to come in and buy another one because the first piece of crud no longer runs after 100,000 miles. In five years, your car will be junk and the junk will be paid off. Get the picture?

Now I don't know about you, but I don't understand how buying "American", i.e., paying a large amount of cash for a pile of crap and bolts, is the "patriotic" thing to do. Do you really care more about your patriotism than you do about your family's safety or economic health? Americans buy, hook, line and sinker, into the United States of America, Inc.'s soundbite, which basically sings out that to buy a foreign car is somehow unpatriotic. Nonsense! To put your family in jeopardy so a bunch of fat Grosse Pointe executives can live the high life while you never get out of the mountain of debt most of you are in, that's just good capitalism for them, and a really bad deal for you. Get real. Educate yourself. Buy foreign cars until American car manufacturers can rise to the task of producing a decent automobile that will stand the test of time. They can do it, but you haven't really given them any reason to, because you keep buying the rolling disasters they market, under the pretense of being "good" Americans. Being a good American means you're being a really stupid consumer, in this instance. Start making decisions not based on Madison Avenue advertising sound bites, but based on the state of your situation.

There's something wrong with America, folks. It's corporatized. The bigger the corporations, the more dictatorial things will be, the less choice you will have and the less voice you will have. Object now before your objections just don't matter anymore and you lose your voice altogether.

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