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Chatterbox: Big impact in small steps


When I got married, back in the old days, no one had a registry. We took what we got. Period. I asked my mom to, at least, tell people my color scheme, and she shivered at my audacity.
One item I got was an electric broom. Just the name inspired wonder. I pictured Mickey Mouse in his wizard’s hat with the broom sweeping all by itself. It was innovative then, but today it’s what we simply call a stick vac. Back then, they cost $25. It worked great … and it worked great for 25 years. No kidding. Wow, that’s a dollar a year.
When it died, I wanted another of the exact brand and all. It lasted one year. Hmm, $2.08 per month for 12 months – then death. I thought I’d just gotten a lemon, so I tried once more; same brand, same thing … 12 months – then death. I wish I’d gotten two at my shower. Then, I would have had one for the second set of 25 years. At 49 years married, I’d still be using it. Recently, someone mentioned on Facebook that their first refrigerator lasted over 25 years, but its new twin only lasted six.
Why? What changed? The American business model did. The same business model that we talked about when we discussed unused gift cards, a proliferation of self-serve/no discount registers taking over especially in grocery stores, American jobs being shipped off-shore, and the constant iteration of “It’s corporate.” It’s all about profit. The efficiency and quality of the product has been dissolved by the bottom line. It won’t change until it negatively affects the wealth of the corporate officers and the stockholders … whose wealth is created, by the way, at the bottom by overworked, underpaid and uninsured workers, foreign and domestic.
It’s the holidays now; we’re shopping. We buy fun things and necessities, and small appliances, like my stick vac often make it to the wish list. How can we find quality? Wouldn’t it be great if we had a national grading system? The grades would vary according to the size and nature of the item, like Consumers Digest shows us, only they would come with the actual item.
For example, small appliances, like a blender, would get four-star rating if we got a year of life per dollar of cost. At $1.50 per year, 3 stars; $2 a year, two stars; and so on, depending on the item. Large appliances and cars would use a similar system with more generous gauges. Ratings must be printed in ads and featured predominantly right on the item.

My husband is a great informant; he reads unceasingly. He mentioned something that set my curiosity to seek more information. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that members of Congress shouldn’t be allowed to own individual stock while serving. She cited several reasons including insider information, and conflicts of interest, i.e. members of Congress own hundreds of millions dollars of fossil fuel stock, which affected their legislative decisions. Banning it makes perfect sense to most of us ordinary folk (aren’t we so smart?). Ms. Ocasio-Cortez stated, “We are here to serve, not profiteer.” Lawmaker/stockholders didn’t agree, but other members of Congress did. Like her or not, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez exhibited common sense though, was criticized (As an aside, we must say that, too often, women, especially young and beautiful women, are often not taken seriously, and we’d better work on that, too).
At any rate, we wonder, what do our rating system and our Congressional problem have in common? They are actually related. Well, first we must agree that some regulation is in order for both.
Obviously, manufacturers must operate in the black. Profits must cover all costs and support the business ladder as well. Unfortunately, with today’s legislation assisting them, today’s businesses aren’t just making a profit, they’re making a killing. The consumer gets the fuzzy lollipop every time with purchases that barely outlive the box they arrived in.
The smaller problem here is indicative of the larger one in Congress which Ms. Ocasio-Cortez so aptly shined a light upon: There’s too much big business deeply financially invested in our leadership, and too much of our leadership deeply financially invested in big business.
Her suggestion and our little rating system are both good ideas to benefit the people. Those who don’t have a vested interest in disagreeing would agree.