RTMark Bag Authority on 10 Aug 2000 01:57:54 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Re: AW: AW: Urgent inquiry for Paper bags!

RTMark believes it is too much to expect citizens--or "consumers," as
they are sometimes derogatorily called--to be ever vigilant, each a
processing mill for the reams of information that, even when distilled
by corporate watchdogs (of which RTMark is *not* one), could easily 
take hours per week to sift through and understand.

People cannot be expected to keep on a first-name basis with the 
latest important statistics, and exercise their knowledge daily, 
sometimes at their own personal expense. Such an existence would
be enough to turn anyone into a jabbering wreck, or a cloying, 
self-anointed saint. In any case, it would leave precious little
time for a fulfilling home life: policy-making takes time and energy,
far more than most people have.

Policy-making is what government is for, and sometimes it fulfills this
calling. In Europe, citizens decided, through their governments, to buy
bananas not from the criminal Central American regimes called Chiquita
et al., but from their former colonies in Africa, at higher prices.
This decision having been made, citizens didn't need to be confronted
with the daily choice of decent but expensive versus evil but cheap.
Unfortunately, the WTO has other plans, and democracy (and foreign
policy decision-making) is just in the way....

The European gas taxes are another example. Although never chosen by
voters, the taxes that make gasoline twice as expensive in Europe as 
it is in the U.S. are quite consciously accepted and maintained, even
when there is no longer a strict need for them, out of awareness 
that cheaper gas would lead to larger, more polluting cars. Imagine
if everyone, daily, were faced with the choice whether or not to pay 
those taxes. The market would sort it out?

The choices have indeed already been made, often as not, or not made--
by governments increasingly in the clutches of giant corporations.
Often, indeed, the best we can do is fight, even while hypocritically
continuing to feed our addictions. Nothing happens overnight.

>(re: inquiry for paper bags, gwbush.com corporate crime)
>great idea to make corporations, including shareholders, responsible
>for their actions and effects.
>what i am writing to ask though, is why stop there? why are not consumers
>also responsible for the sins of corporations that they support by
>consuming their product? lets not forget that there are millions, if not
>billions, of consumers eager to drive through to pick up the new
>mcsomething (in their sweatshop made sneakers, maybe afterwards they'll
>stop by their local neighborhood mega-chain coffeeshop, then maybe go home
>and type and whine about it on their computer with millions of parts from
>god knows where...)  attempting to solve the sins of corporations with yet
>another level of regulation is ridiculous (besides corporations are larger
>and more powerful than most governments... who would enforce it?). similar
>to attempting to control the supply of drugs - when the actual problem and
>power is in the demand.  perhaps as consumers we are all too weak and
>brainwashed by the non-stop onslaught of advertising to actually be self
>aware enough to realize when, let alone what, we are consuming.
>unconsciously we flip on the light switch and use our nuclear powered
>electricity. perhaps we can continue to believe that the choices are not
>ours, they have been made for us, that we are not responsible and that it
>is actually the evil demon mega-corporations and trade organizations. lets
>drive our cars and fly in our planes to go protest exxon and shell
>polluting the environment. lets drink our skim latte and bitch about
>starfucks and how it destroys neighborhoods. lets live in our perfect
>little neighborhood, or our perfect little subdivision, and send our kids
>to our exclusive schools and complain about the decline of public space,
>economic diversity, and public education. lets continue to point the
>finger at anyone but our self and our daily actions.  so yeah,
>corporations should be responsible, but more than that, individuals should
>be responsible - whether they are at work shielded by the corporations
>legal team, or investing in the blur of mutual funds, or 'relaxing' at the
>movies, or buying toothpaste.  in order to facilitate conscious consumers,
>information on the products consumed must be known. (rtmark disseminates
>this sort of information.) this implies an active searching and
>researching by the consumer - not the mere acceptance of a nice hand-out
>of consumer conscious propaganda. and yet all of the information will
>never be available. besides, in a consumer environment which is so
>interconnected, there are no perfect products. instead, the consumer
>chooses between the lesser of evils. and this is where it really hurts -
>it might be less convenient, or more expensive, to consume a product which
>is not purely good, but only less evil. (but lets never forget that we
>always have larger choices than presented to us. not coke or pepsi, but
>coke or pepsi or water. that would be a good taste test challenge... coke,
>pepsi, or water.)  so there must be some sort of relative scale of evils i
>guess.  if you know that tobacco kills and you smoke it anyway and then
>maybe you get some big state settlement for lots of dollars because the
>tobacco corporations are evil and misleading (which they are), what does
>it matter? you can never get those years off of your life back. 
>if you know mcsomething is bad for the environment, bad for children, bad
>for neighborhoods, bad for the economy, and you eat there anyway, what
>sort of punishment would be appropriate? maybe the punishment of eating at
>mcsomething is that - eating at mcsomething. the world becomes more of
>what you make it. eating at mcsomething makes more mcsomethings and less
>non-chain local restaurants. a choice is always a reduction of
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