The Ballard Talisman

American corporatism has failed its consumers

Corporate CEOs rake in large figures off of our necessities whilst failing to provide them

Fletcher+Anderson
Fletcher Anderson

Fletcher Anderson

Fletcher Anderson

Max Schomber, Staff Reporter

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What does one really need to live a standard life nowadays in the United States? We have our basics—food, water and shelter—but other must-haves keep appearing as society progresses further. Specific medicines are a requirement for some, there’s no way of finishing school without some access to the internet, and I’m fairly certain that the entirety of the school would collapse and die without access to cell phones.

Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if for some reason we weren’t able to access these things due to the hefty price tags, or if they were of low quality due to a lack of competition and regulation? I certainly think it would be, as all of those aforementioned items and more are firmly held in the cold gauntlet of corporation, who sees morality as second to profits.

With this kind of power in their hands, companies like Comcast, Verizon and Pfizer dictate how we live our lives. We have been thrown into an arena in which their rule is law, as we cannot live without these most basic of needs in the modern day. We have to take the punishment from their anti-consumer practices, as we have no alternatives.

I can’t go a day without hearing a complaint about cell service or internet within the school–whether it be from myself or one of my peers. But has anybody ever asked why our services are so bad? According to Forbes, the United States has the 46th fastest mobile internet speed worldwide, which is an outrageous ranking when the U.S. ranks 6th in the expenses of owning a cell phone.
“Why are these conditions so bad, you may ask?” To be quite frank, it is due to a lack of competition in the industry. Why should companies strive to compete with each other when the only names of recognition are Comcast, Centurylink, Verizon and AT&T?

Comcast, of course is the largest of these brands, and one of the most hated due to its subpar quality. On Consumer Affairs, a website dedicated to reviews from users of products, Comcast is given a rating of less than two stars, with many of the reviews written on it citing its poor speed and frequent crashes. No wonder Comcast is ranked as the fifteenth most hated company in America, according to USA Today.

In fact, the number one on the list is Equifax, a name you may have heard about when they were hacked in July 2017 due to their poor systems. This company whom we put in charge of our financial information had allowed the information of 145 million Americans to be stolen, including driver’s license numbers, birthdays and even social security numbers. It is pretty obvious to see that our companies are doing a real swell job at maintaining an American standard of quality.

Anti-consumer practices
In addition to our horrid goods in the country, the companies behind them act as though those who utilize them aren’t even human.

Perhaps a drastic example of this comes from a 2016 scandal, when according to the Los Angeles Times, four drug corporations—Turing Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin Inc., Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and Rodelis Therapeutics—all raised the price of a drug named Daraprim, which used to treat a deadly parasitic disease for over 60 years, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

It is rather difficult for a company to claim any sort of morality, when they willingly let those suffering with disease die just to make a profit, and many senators in opposition to the price increase stated that evidence existed that it is a common tactic in the industry.

Another blatant example of such practices comes from just last year. I’m sure that many remember the repeal of net neutrality by the FCC.

When this repeal was signed into law on April 23, 2017, service providers gained the legal right to sell internet service in packages, similar to how many television companies do business. This action, according to the New York Times, will restrict the access to information, raise the bills of consumers, and allow providers to create fast lanes in support of specific services.

These limitations have been done against public opinion and basic morality itself, as they will only hinder the consumer with less information about what practices are occurring unless they pay the premium, in addition to the already higher costs of the internet. It directly hinders consumer rights, and only benefits corporation.

As these examples clearly show, companies and those they influence are undoubtedly guilty of actions that slap consumer values in the face. The only thing these titanic corporations see is dollar signs.

What can be changed?
Corporations like these clearly need tighter restrictions set in place on them. If these greater freedoms such as the net neutrality repeal continue to go into effect, we may work ourselves back to laissez-faire capitalism, a system notable for its destruction to the environment and basic human rights.

A basic code of quality and ethics should be passed into law. This way we could ensure that consumers receive high standard goods and services reasonably and justly. This code would also incite further competition in certain industries, who could actually compete to offer the best service at the lowest price like the current system says it does. If these changes are not put into effect, then the consumer will continue to be treated and neglected, until even basic survival is out of our reach.

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American corporatism has failed its consumers