Community Dissolution

Are giant businesses automatically evil? Of course not. Only when the maximization of profit becomes their sole product. Unfortunately, that’s far too often what happens, and their social, community, and environmental responsibilities are deliberately ignored or forgotten.

Big Box moves in. They buy up land at the edge of town, build a store the size of an airplane hangar, with parking for thousands. Low prices, swarms of customers, many, many new jobs. What’s not to like?

But they destroy more jobs than they create. The stores you used to go to because you knew and liked the people who worked there are closed, a few of their employees employed by Big Box at reduced wages. No one knows anyone else. The strong community that used to look out for its own is gone. Main street is dead, many stores empty. trash in their doorways. People don’t even vote as much. We trade community for cheap goods made by underpaid workers in far away places. Community and all the strengths that term signifies are lost.

Are giant businesses automatically evil?
Of course not. Only when the
maximization of profit becomes their sole product.

The minute a stock exchange anywhere opens, the cyclone begins. This is not banking that allows business customers to improve their operations to modernize or otherwise improve. Much of it is determined by computers. The computer decides, and hundreds of millions of dollars move into an account on another continent. Minutes, even seconds, later, the computer moves the same money somewhere else. Daily, trillions of dollars move again and again, each move designed to bring some small measure of profit that becomes large because of the sheer quantity of funds being manipulated. This is pure money flow. It benefits only those making it flow. It does nothing important for anyone else. It lies completely outside the social, community, and environmental economy.

The gas companies tell us about the vast quantities of energy that lie untapped, awaiting only our approval to begin powering our electric plants and our homes, and along the way providing everyone involved with riches. Just sign here. But they won’t say what chemicals they are going to use to blast the deep rock with, releasing the gas. They won’t guarantee there will be no ill effects on your land. They ignore any potential environmental effect, and make no mention of wildlife.

…vast quantities of energy that lie untapped,
awaiting only our approval…

They fracture the rock with their secret compounds, and soon your drinking water becomes foul and unusable. You discover you can actually light it on fire as it comes out of the faucet. Someone mercifully shoots a buck that has been drinking the water from a local creek. He is covered with horrible cancerous lesions. Then there are swarms of small earthquakes. They don’t care. You signed. You have no recourse.

Your uncle is a fifth generation farmer on the family land. The big company that tries to patent life, that makes genetically modified crops that will require anyone who adopts them to buy seed and chemicals only from them, convinces your uncle’s neighbor to plant their Frankenseed. Your uncle’s seed crop is contaminated by this stuff. But he can’t recoup his losses from them, because they sue him for theft of the unwanted genes that blew over and contaminated his crops. And they, and their $600-dollar-an-hour army of lawyers, win. Your uncle retires and moves into town to work at the Big Box store. The 150-year old family farm becomes derelict.

Big Oil spends several hundred million dollars on an advertising campaign. It shows all the green land their activities have benefited, and mentions by name some of the natives of foreign lands whose lives have been improved by their benevolence. But they don’t mention that when they moved in, entire tribes were thrown off the lands they had lived on for thousands of years, because they had no papers to prove their ownership, whereas government officials could somehow guarantee that the company had the right to drill there. Dangerous effluent from the oil operations destroys the sweet land forever. Big Oil remains there for years, hiring no natives, pumping billions of dollars into their own coffers and the hidden bank accounts of corrupt politicians. Many thousands are driven into deep poverty in the cities, where there is no opportunity, no use for their skills. Their land is destroyed. So are their lives. Big Oil begins another multi-million dollar advertising campaign that shows how nice they are.

These disasters and many others that benefit only the giant and the rich are brought to you on a continuous basis by the unaccountable. Most of us don’t even realize what is happening. Our children grow up thinking life at the mall is normal. When they mature they move into jobs that pay poorly. Their futures were compromised long ago.

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