Welcome to JManimas Democracy Magazine for Februaary 2009

Mission of Democracy Magazine:

To illuminate and promote democracy and its practice for all interested parties.

Economics: Are You a Captive Customer? Copyright 2009, John Manimas

You most likely are a captive customer, and most likely in denial. It all seems so natural, and something arranged for your convenience. You have a "rewards" card, or "frequent flyer" or "frequent shipper" or frequent anything or the most properly labeled card of all, the "loyalty card." That's what they all are; cards that identify you as a loyal customer, which is actually far more beneficial for the seller than the buyer. Finding new customers is hard work. Having customers who are free to buy competitors products at competitors stores is the biggest obstacle to easy wealth in the world of business. "Loyalty cards," coupons to get ten cents off, or two for one, for your next purchase of a product -- with expiration date within a month of course -- is the best way to keep making you think you are "saving money" by spending more, so long as you spend it with the seller to whom you are "loyal." The truth is, the American business system has created a process where you are in fact, or will soon become, a captive, a captive customer and possibly a captive citizen. Would you be free if you had no choice about what to buy and where to buy it? Have you noticed that supposedly "regulatory" agencies and banks and giant corporations are all working together to make you a "member" of their "family" or a legally bound "subscriber" rather than a free-market customer?

Here are some realities you may not have noticed or you may not have thought about the full impact of these new business arrangements. First, you now can pay your bills by having the company you pay actually take the payment without your assistance. All you do is "sign up" for easy automatic bill payment services. Then, whatever you owe is deducted once a month and you save a postage stamp and a check and the time to write it. So helpful. You are busy of course. You are busy watching something else. Have you noticed that the software industry is the absolute champion and artistically criminal in the "subscriber" movement. You see, software is often clogged with crap, bad code, bad ideas, weaknesses, poor work. So, the software companies, including the richest and most famous, cannot get bogged down in writing software that has been fully tested and selected. They just sell what they can produce after all the beer cans are cleaned up and then you get to pay for "updates" and "upgrades" and "support" which means correcting all the stupid errors and trashy code that they were not competent enough to fix before you paid for the software, and you get all these wonderful bargains and services just by "signing up" and becoming a "subscriber" to their wonderful "we-do-it-all-for-you-services." You, my dear "subscriber" are a gullible bumpkin, a hick who bought the Brooklyn Bridge and Yellowstone Park at Sale Prices. You are not a subscriber, you are a captive. You are in a commercial prison and you are coming under the control of the industrialists and commercialists of America. You are in the cell, but the door is not locked yet. The unlocked door is the candy, the clincher. You think you are free, you see the door is not locked, not yet, and so you agree to the deal. You agree to be a "subscriber," you agree to pay $200 or $400 or $500 for a jackass "service agreement" which is essentially an admission on the part of the producer of your washing machine, or television or automobile that it may be defective and if you really want to be secure that it is not going to blink out or blow up or fall apart on you, pay us! Pay us a lot so that you will be a member of the "loyal customer" class, the people who don't have to pay high labor costs if one of our defective products gets past our incompetent inspectors. When you sign the "service agreement" you are a subscriber, a captive customer. Do you realize that you have just paid a giant corporation and agreed at the same time that you will hire them if the product you bought needs service. You have "subscribed." You are a captive customer. Did it ever occur to you that when you bought the product, you could take the position that you are a free customer and a free citizen and you might want to be free to take a malfunctioning product to whoever you like? And, if you are giving up some of that freedom, which you are, maybe the seller of the product should be paying you to give up that freedom.

Have you noticed that the credit card companies, including the biggest and most famous banks in the nation, employ practices that would have been considered fraudulent and illegal in eighteenth century France? They deceive you by offering you a bait and a con. Take this credit card and you will have low interest for six months, or twelve months. But the name of the game is that you will enjoy the easy use of your credit card and miss the deadline and not notice, at least for a few months, when the interest rate goes up to 20% (called 19.99% to deceive you) and the credit provider has gotten away with the crime of usury, which is no longer a crime in the United States. You are told in the mail and on the ubiquitous tube that every time you buy something you will save $3, or 1 percent. But what good is that 1 percent when you are paying 20 percent? Don't you get it? The business world does not want a free market. They don't want to have to do the hard work of competing with new companies that make a better product, at a more reasonable price. They want you to be a captive customer, a "subscriber." They don't want you choosing what to buy. They want you to listen to them tell you what you need and what you want and what you can buy just by pushing a few buttons and you don't even have to make a decision. Deciding is hard work. We will decide for you. Think not? Read some more.

Did you ever hear of genetically modified foods (GMF)? Genetically modified seeds? You probably have, but they have been off the front pages of the news for a while. The industrialists and the commercialists don't want you choosing what to buy. If you had a choice, you probably would not buy the toxic junk they are selling. How about that Federal Drug Industry Protection Administration? How about that Environmental Law Industry Protection Agency? You think they are protecting you? They have decided that genetically modified corn is exactly the same as natural corn. They have decided that genetically modified cows are exactly the same as natural cows. They have decided that canned foods and frozen foods that contain genetically modified ingredients are exactly the same as foods that have no such ingredients. You don't have a choice in the matter. The market decision has been made for you. It is called a "free" market but it is not a free market any more, it is the market system demanded by the industrialists and commercialists. It is a "subscriber" market and a state-regulated USDA-controlled market. You no longer have to be burdened with the task of a customer in an old-fashioned free market economy. You no longer have to choose to buy one product instead of another product that you feel may be different or inferior and that is not what you want. The market no longer gives a shit what you want. They don't have to sell what you want. You are a subscriber, a "loyal customer." They could sell you Dioxin Chips and deduct the price from your bank account.

Do you see free market competition? I don't. Do you remember the "Oil Industry.?" That was an industry that produced oil. Of course, you say. There is still the industry that produces oil. No, my friend, you are wrong. You missed a subtle word change. The Oil Industry was recently changed to the Energy Industry. Why is that? Who cares? Why is that important? It is so easy, my poor captive customer, captive citizen. The Oil Industry saw what was coming. They saw that oil would run out and western civilization is going to have to change, and change soon, to other forms of energy and mechanization. Now if we really had a free market and old-fashioned competition, new companies that would compete with oil would rise up, companies that made windmills and power dams and alternative fuels, and solar panels, and alternatives to oil lubricants. That has happened to some extent, of course. Some creative inventors have done wonderful work in developing new energy systems and new fuels to compete with and replace oil. But don't you see what happened? The new inventors and new companies are not going to be allowed to live. Their ideas and products are going to be stolen and exploited by the "Energy Industry" that used to be the "Oil Industry." If we had an old-fashioned free-market economy, the new companies with new types of fuels and new types of motors and new ways to produce electric power would rise up and compete with the "Oil Industry" and the Oil Industry would lose the competition. The Oil Giants would die and fall apart and go out of business and they wouldn't be the richest and most powerful people in the world any more. We can't have that. So, they solved that old-fashioned competition problem with one word, they changed "Oil" Industry to "Energy" Industry. And do you know what that means? It means there is no need for competition, no need for new companies (except to do most of the hard work of research and inventing) to take the place of the old "Oil" industry. The "Energy Industry" is here to protect you, to save you from the burden of a free market economy and all that fuss. The "Energy Industry" can make the transition from drilling for oil to manufacturing all of your fuel and motor and electrical needs. There is no need to go back to that old-fashioned method of open competition. Subscribe, and be happy. Don't bother your pretty little head with market competition and market choices. We have taken care of all that for you. Relax. Sign up. Get cable TV, with 5 channels that you watch and 245 crap channels including the most ridiculous idea of all time, "shopping channels." Watch the commercialists tell you what to buy. Buy, buy, buy! Bye, bye, bye. Bye-bye. Say "Bye-bye." Say "Bye-bye" to your freedom.


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