Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Steps to Reduce Corporate Control

Bank Transfer Day saw people moving their bank accounts to their own towns. It was meant as a blow to the big corporations the seek to manage people’s lives from far away.

A week later, people may be wonder what else they can do. At AlterNet, Anna Lekas Miller suggests “3 More Ways to Move Your Money Away from Corporations”:

  1. Buy local.
  2. Buy union made.
  3. Buy green.

Bank Transfer Day is just one of the first big successes of what will become a sweeping movement: a movement of individual actions to reduce the centralized control of the global economy. It is a reaction to a growing problem: as more economic decisions are made by fewer people paying less attention to the circumstances of people’s economic lives, errors and dysfunction are growing and breaking points are occurring more frequently.

This dynamic explains why a group of bankers could imagine it made sense to charge customers who can’t necessarily afford it, $5 a month for a non-service in order to fund bonuses for bank executives — the specific outrage that fueled Bank Transfer Day. It didn’t occur to the executives that $5 a month was enough money to matter to anyone. That kind of error is inevitable when decisions are entrusted to a committee of millionaires, sitting around a table with no view of the street, or any group equally removed from the real world. Equally clueless business decisions are made every day by corporate executives and committees that are so out of touch with the way the world works that they don’t understand the harm they are doing.

We can’t individually stop the dynamic of central control of the economy, but we can reduce our personal involvement. It is hard to know what specifically to do because almost everything a corporation does happens behind closed doors. Just to find out what products a corporation makes is a challenge. But we can start with what we do know, and add more as we go along.

For now, I will add three more suggestions of my own, suggestions that aren’t specifically about money:

  1. Cook your own food.
  2. Stay healthy.
  3. Spend less time watching commercial television.

None of these are meant as rules to follow all the time. But each time you can solve a problem outside of the corporate scheme, it reduces corporations’ grip on the world and their influence on your personal life.