Corporate reality is as bad as it sounds

Sitting at home for dinner with friends—a married couple in their late twenties and mid-thirties—who are visiting from America, the conversation quickly turns sour. Topics covered include a nearby Walmart taking over the local shop where the young man works, to regular drug testing at the pharmaceutical company the young woman is employed by. “They put dye in the toilets so that you can’t flush and they can see if you consume [drugs],” she said.

“Our health coverage has gotten worse. I now have to pay for regular doctor visits and blood tests for which I was not charged before,” she continues. These friends of mine are considering having their first child.

Imagine having this awkward conversation about a transaction with the physician examining you. Who feels worse? The patient having to fork up the money on top of their insurance payment, or the physician having to bring a financial conversation into a health checkup?

Next, they announce how the state of California is one of many U.S. states going bankrupt!

Where you at, Schwarzenegger?

Damn! It is as bad as it sounds in America.

What is the tipping point of a nation before it collectively decides it is time to act? When do enough decide that it is time to stop being docile due to an unbearable disparity in financial wealth and the gouging of the working person?

The young lady is from Montreal, and tells us about her 61-year-old mother who has been an employee at a university in Montreal. Her mom is being pressured at her age to exit, two years before she is awarded her pension. How is she asked to exit? Through allegations and being placed on probation. Her mother has been previously asked to leave a well known corporation six months before she would be able to earn her retirement pension, after 15 years of service with this company.

A few days later, at another home dinner, this time with a young couple who just welcomed their second super-cute daughter. Their stress: Mom’s going back to work in a couple of months to a known fashion company in Montreal, and managing the new family schedule of daycare, grandma’s, home, and fixing dinner. My friend seemed visibly stressed.

I cannot understand how you have to explain to a manager that you have parental responsibilities and therefore need—not would like—but need to leave earlier or find an adjustment to accomodate comfortably a family’s pace.

You know how they say when  it strikes close to home?

Sitting at the table, we realised that we need to vocalise these daily abuses and find proper ways to report them. Intimidation is what the abusive person or party counts on.

If something bothers you, it is because it is warranted. We deny what is true, hide it in the back of our mind, and talk about it with friends, spouses, colleagues, but seldom respond to the unethical treatment that is being perpetrated at our expense.

Result? The abuse continues and spreads.

On the upside, I am happy to read that strikes spread in South African mines, stopping production at four Anglo American Platinum mines. “More than 60,000 miners were not working Wednesday…The plight of miners living in tin shacks while they produce the raw materials for luxury goods under dangerous conditions has put a spotlight on the South African government’s failure to meet basic needs like clean water and decent health care. Police said some 1,500 strikers blocked roads to the Amplats mine near Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg.

Watch the documentary film The Corporation, based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan. Decide for yourself if the corporation is a psychopathic construct.

THE CORPORATION explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Part film and part movement, The Corporation transforms with its insightful analysis. Taking its status as a legal “person,” the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist’s couch to ask “What kind of person is it?” The Corporation includes interviews with 40 corporate insiders and critics like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Milton Friedman, Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore – plus confessions, case studies and strategies for change.

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