Toying with insane ideas

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Kephras, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. Does the American working-class collectively wield more power than a multinational corporation?
    Is it possible to make a company to act in the best interest of its customers, instead of its bottom line?

    I had a thought this evening, one I wanted to immediately dismiss as "too crazy to work." The premise is basically this: when you buy stock in a company, you effectively own a piece of that company. Control enough stock, and you control the company.
    *Up to a point, anyway. There are federal and state regulatory laws, corporate bylaws, and other provisions to consider - shareholders don't wield absolute power.
    Generally speaking, publicly-traded corporations are all about shareholder value. In fact, a few of those laws and provisions are there specifically to ensure companies act in the best interest of shareholders. But let's imagine for a moment that the shareholders are the general public - the customers of that company.

    The thousands - even millions - of gamers who bought the latest EA or Activision game.
    The millions of family households beholden to Comcast for their TV/internet.
    The tens-of-millions viewing the world through their (Samsung / Apple) smartphone.

    What if enough of those customers demanded change from the company? I'm sure most of us have heard the phrase "vote with your wallet," and to some degree it does ring true. But there are plenty of situations where "not buying" something either isn't an option (cable monopolies), or sends the wrong message ("That last game sold poorly because it had a female antagonist! MOAR GRIZZLED WHITE DUDES!"). What if those customers instead collective bought control of the company and made their voices heard?

    Probably too crazy to happen - good luck getting five people to agree on something, let alone five million, right? Yet I can't help feeling like there's something to this. Some inkling of an idea that people at large could actually stand up to Corporate America and demand change - and for once, make the fat cats listen.
    tuqueque, Eviltoade and khixan like this.
  2. what is smp8 doing to you
  3. The only way to break down the corporate system is to sever its overwhelming power. Good luck finding a way of doing it. You say IF millions however hundreds of millions around the world are screaming the same thing. Global monopolies are ruining humanity in too many ways and protests, demonstrations and rebellions are all quelled and quieted. Those that speak of those are tin foil wearing nuts(that's me)
  4. Well, we cannot claim ownership to the market, but one problem that I see in the US is that buyers do not control the market anymore. With contracts, monopolization, and how essential services are, people are forced to buy. I need a phone service, and then I am in a contract. I cannot say "I don't need it" and the price goes down, and I am forced to pay for it for a while when I agree. It strongholds the market
  5. This right here is what I'm talking about - the whole concept of "voting with your wallet" means nothing, because it's not really an option anymore. In theory, shareholders of those companies can exert greater and more direct influence on the company's business practices. That's typically not something that happens, since the shareholders are the ones getting rich at your expense (via getting screwed by corporate policies), but if there were indeed some way to herd cats and get the public invested and involved...

    Something to ponder: could you crowdfund a hostile takeover of a corporation? How many millions of dollars would it take to buy control over even a "small" company?
    tuqueque likes this.
  6. All our money is fake so its a bit irrelevant. Those that print the money are the ones that hold all the resources which is where the true value is. Consumerism is all we have, consumerism is what our money is made of. An idea. It holds bo real weight. Buying further into the system wont hurt the system. In the US there has been a huge shift that has met federal and state resistance to live "off gridl" by supplying your own power, water and food with just the resources on your property, not having any sort of external infrastructure attached to your land. Making people self sufficient would make a huge push in the right direction but our society is so reliant on consumerism and our children indoctrinated to be co dependant that I honestly cant see that going far.

    I myself an not unwilling to recognize my reliance on the global corporate conglomerate. Often stating how I'm incapable of feeding myself without going to the market. Its a scary thought at first realizing that if the supermarket closed that you would likely die of starvation but being completely honest with myself, its the most likely scenario if it were to happen. a product of my upbringing if you will.
  7. Let's try to focus on the idea at hand, please, and leave the "tin-foil hat stuff" at the door. I'm talking about using the current system against itself - staging an economic coup, as it were.
    tuqueque likes this.
  8. You're essentially talking about a consumer union, right?
  9. From my limited understanding of them? Not really. They're just advocacy groups, I'm talking about something consumer-driven that can actually influence what a company does.
    To further Olaf's example of a phone contract, let's say all Verizon customers banded together, collectively bought out Verizon stock, and were then able to tell the board of directors "Get rid of early termination fees, or you're all fired."
    As I said in my initial post, there are limits on exactly how much power shareholders can wield, but the point is that they are in a position of power over the company, instead of the other way around.
    tuqueque and ChrisFlareon like this.
  10. That's a union, essentially. They're not advocacy groups, they're a group made up of workers in a company who can threaten strike (stopping all production stops the CEO's money flow and is bad PR) if their demands (raises, better working conditions, removal of the alligator pit from the break room) aren't met. They realized that the owner OWNS the power, but the workers CONTROL the power.
    SoulPunisher and ChrisFlareon like this.
  11. I didn't see his response as any more "tin foil hat" than your original post. Why the sardonic response?
    Gawadrolt and ChickenDice like this.
  12. I misread your post then, I think. There are such things as "customer unions," and specifically Customers Union, which are more or less as I stated. They're watchdogs who put outside pressure on companies over issues like safety and public health, but while they have influence, they have no actual power and can't take direct actions.
    A customer Union, as you envision it, wouldn't work because that is exactly the "voting with your wallet" problem I described. The only real power they have is to buy/not buy the product or service, and while products can be boycotted, services are essential and daily parts of our lives. If you're getting screwed by your cable company, you won't just up and cancel it to prove your point.

    Hence the quotes in my post. ;) His words, not mine. But I am being serious when I say I want the discussion to stay on track and not get muddled up in Survivalist / "our system is a lie" debates.
    tuqueque and ChrisFlareon like this.
  13. I say we overthrow Comcast because, well, Comcast...

  14. I'll unwatch after this but, you hit the nail on the head. If it isn't what you perceive then talking about how to change it without acknowledging the reality is going to be unproductive. I personally am not interested in the survivalist methodology or ideology. Hence, I would starve hah. I am pretty comfortable in my relationship with the corporate conglomerate, I'm just willing to see that the relationship is one that necessitates victims of our relationship and is no way moral.

    Side note: don't want cancellation fees? don't sign a contract where you get a free 600 dollar phone, pretty simple. That fee is there to protect them and actually makes sense. It's a trade off. You can go with verizon on a prepaid phone as long as you buy your own 600 dollar phone then you don't have to worry about a 300 dollar (oh look they still lose out on that deal) cancellation fee ;-)
  15. I put it in quotes for a reason. The corporate "system" is many things - broken, immoral, and horribly imbalanced - but it is not a lie. That implies it is imaginary, which is about as far from reality as you get. Which is why I don't want to have this debate here, and will request further discussion on the topic removed.

    I use a dinky little tracfone that costs me $7 a month ($21 every three, really) to maintain service. I was simply using that as one potential example of customers-turned-shareholders exerting influence on a company to change its practices. The same could be applied to Comcast, Bank of America, or any number of other publicly-traded corporations.
    tuqueque likes this.
  16. "If you're getting screwed by your cable company, you won't just up and cancel it to prove your point."

    I haven't had a TV service in ten years for exactly this reason. I don't have a landline, I prepay my cell phone, and I only have internet at the demand of my wife. Without it, I would have different hobbies, but not ones that are less or more fun.
  17. A fair point, I amend my statement: "...most people won't cancel." I meant "you" in the general sense, not YOU specifically - though as I understand it, an increasing number of people are cutting the cable in favor of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, so perhaps using a cable company isn't the best example.
    tuqueque likes this.