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Chatterbox: Reroute our energy


Here at Chatterbox, we moan about “corporate” a lot.

It’s not just apropos, it’s necessary … until we change things. We are all dealing with the inconveniences of not only America’s productivity being consumed by a handful of corporate giants who then diminish service, quality and quantity while increasing prices, but with their shipping America’s jobs overseas to further increase corporate profits and their stock value.

America … well, it just keeps keeping on but, of course and as always, it’s “we the people” who make that happen. Sadly, as we do, we also help those powers which shouldn’t be in charge, stay in charge. The majority of us adapts well and is lawful and fairly unspoiled as people of an industrialized nation go – at least from middle class on down the economic ladder. The ruling class has learned to exploit our humility and simple expectations to a great degree – unfortunately for us. They also distract the crowds from their antics and flip the truth with edited footage of that small percentage of renegades who break high end shop windows in protest.

Most average Americans, and even citizens around the world, have modest desires. We’re willing to work honestly and are satisfied with a safe, simple life of modest comfort for us and our kids, a peaceful daily existence and, maybe, a few perks like a clean planet to sustain us, unbiased leadership, and “justice and equality for all” be more than just words. Yes, average people are unspoiled for the most part and want no part of the fracas that leads to the top of the money ladder but the bottom of human kindness.

We deal with new things well. We adjust. We circumvent and/or navigate most issues without missing too many beats. We have, especially over the last two decades, really adapted to the corporate takeover that been altering so much of our everyday life since the 70s. We shouldn’t have, but we didn’t have much choice; the nonmilitary coup crept in slowly and quietly, but was a takeover just the same. We see what that takeover changed; it changed life as we knew it.

In elementary school, my sister did a project, making a U.S. map and covering each state in the product it most famously produced. Today, that map would be much emptier. Thirty years ago, my family took a road trip down South. Although we all know that no place in the world was ever a panacea, the land was lovely and, as we traveled, we passed billboards that told some of our American story. That story would also be much altered now. Back in the 90s, America made stuff … lots of stuff … good stuff, start to finish. Let’s talk cotton; we grew it, spun it into thread, wove the thread into fabric, and made stuff … clothes, sheets, towels, dish cloths. “Come Visit Our Factory” the billboards said. “Stop and Shop” they said.

America’s corporate takeover changed all of that. The jobs disappeared. The cotton disappeared, the plants and mills disappeared. It’s all done cheaper and out of country now. We even ship homegrown chickens to be butchered overseas. How insane is that? Our productivity went out to sea: China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India and several other nations where environments are still near sweatshop conditions legally, with no unions to protect workers.

Even in the United States now, unions are ghosts of their former selves at best. They were designed to be strong and protect workers from unsafe conditions that led to things like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911. Unions gave workers sustainable salaries, health care, a 40-hour workweek, overtime and severance pay. Many of those gains are gone or minimized now. Corporations have found ways to gut or circumvent them.

Leadership always makes a big deal out of tidbits when they aid the little people, like forgiving college loans, improving public programs or education, but no one complains about what huge corporate profits are costing us: their unpaid taxes; tax breaks and rebates; and exporting our jobs while still collecting incentives for those jobs which were supposed to be created in America. These funds all rise to the top filling corporate coffers, enriching executives, and enhancing stock values, but nearly none benefit American workers or consumers.

So much of what we had that was going in the right direction has been dragged asunder, and we just keep chugging along. It’s truly to our credit, but definitely not to our advantage. We must win our representation back.