If someone were to enter your home on the pretext that repairs were needed, flooded your kitchen and bathroom by leaving faucets running, secretly installed a remote control to allow him to repeat the entire process at will [and did so, repeatedly], I wonder if you might get a little upset? You might even consider him an anti-social criminal. But then, he would be a person, and you do not expect such behavior from a person you have not harmed.
I am getting this treatment from a corporation; its name is Microsoft. Many tens of thousands, probably millions, of their other customers are getting the same treatment. Microsoft wants to push sales of its new-ish Windows 10 operating system. To do this, they download a piece of malware under the pretext that it is ‘a recommended upgrade’. It upgrades nothing at all, has no benefits to any user. What it does do is this. First, it generates an annoying pop-up window suggesting you upgrade to their Windows 10. No big deal, close the pop-up, just a minor irritation every time you start the computer. Second, it downloads, with neither permission nor warning, a very large file – you guessed it, Windows 10, but de-activated. This it hides on your hard disk. Memory is cheap nowadays, but not everyone has a lot to waste; Microsoft don’t care about that. So your system may run slower, too bad. But the download itself is a lot of data; many of us, in rural areas especially, are capped on both the amount and the speed of data download. The computer’s access to the internet is blocked for considerable periods and the monthly cap is blown. Microsoft don’t care about that. Too bad, you ought to live in a city. And finally, once you discover this is going on, you can remove the malware if you know how; Microsoft simply re-installs it next time it sends out any of its [almost daily] security band-aids.
But Microsoft is not a person, it is a corporation. Morality is not expected from a corporation; they are amoral, incapable of being good or evil, concerned only with making money. We all know that; we regulate them by making and occasionally enforcing laws defining criminal corporate behavior; we are happy for them to make money within those legal limits. Making money honestly is good; using crime, fraud, deception, and political corruption to make more money is bad.
Now take a look at other big corporations. Enron, downright fraud on a huge scale, manipulating energy markets. Big banks, swindling their customers and their competitors alike, causing the housing crash and then foreclosing on their victims. Volkswagen, faking their emissions testing, polluting the air and cheating their customers with false promises of fuel economy. Fossil fuel companies bribing scientists to falsify data showing CO2 buildups in the atmosphere. Big tobacco knowingly killing their customers. The list goes on, and I know I’m using dramatic language; it’s well-deserved and accurate. The legal limits on what corporations may do are routinely flouted, usually with impunity.
Either we bring big corporations to heel and enforce social responsibility, or they will destroy our society. They have already destroyed our concept of democracy by corrupting national, and some local, politics; corporate lobbyists and flacks are more powerful than the voices of citizens, they own most of the media, they consider themselves above the laws of the land, they buy the courts and the legislatures. It is time for people, real live breathing human people, to retake control of this republic from corporate ‘persons’.
And if you agree with me, discuss it with a friend who is unenlightened. Open argument and discussion are good, while thoughtless acceptance of ‘things as they are’ leads only to servitude.
Copyright 2016 Flight of Eagles