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Monday, 15 October 2018

Planet Starbucks

Google. Facebook. Apple. Starbucks. Amazon. Coca-Cola. Virgin. Corporate capitalism and advertising has dominated the socio-economic market for years. You can't watch a football match or buy a bottle of water without being bombarded with advertisements.

In Fight Club, there is a scene where the main character states: 'When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything; the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.' I find this quite messed up. The structure of consumer culture and corporate capitalism has made it so that a few major companies in the world hold superb economic power yet still avoid paying their taxes.

The irony is that we as consumers are the ones that keep these companies in power. We all use the internet, and Google is one of the internet's largest search engines. Amazon is one of my favourite websites and is where I was able to kick-start my writing career. Yet as a business it is horribly unethical in terms of how its employees are treated. Apple and Samsung are two of the biggest mobile phone companies, ranking around the top of the smart phone food chain.

My debut novel out on Amazon.
Alongside these conglomerates are advertisements. Ads are what keep a lot of major websites and companies running. Everywhere you go - on the train, on a bus, on an online article, on YouTube - adverts are constantly being flooded into our psyche. BUY THIS! BE THAT! We're told time and time again that we need this product or that holiday. Anything to make us better and brighter. (I had ads on my blog last year, but took them off because I hardly made anything from them and I don't like the idea of my blog being 'endorsed' by adverts I may not want).

Yet all we do is feed these conglomerates. YouTube thrives on advertising. So does Facebook. Ad revenue lines the pockets of many of these fat cats - and the little kittens. I support capitalism, but not corporate capitalism. I support small businesses selling their own products rather than one major business controlling everything. I would rather support local cafes than Costa.

Capitalism is simply selling things for profit. On a ground-floor level this can be wonderful - loads of businesses working together, making things and selling them for profit, and paying tax to benefit public needs. When I was younger I worked at my local farmer's market and it operated as such. One market filled with lots of individual stall owners selling their individual home-made products for individual profit. Yet each stall owner paid a percentage of their earnings as tax to the market manager which kept the market running for everyone.

This is how it should be. We all look after ourselves, but we also look after common interests, like public transport, parks, museums, the NHS, and schools. I'm no expert on economics, but I'm pretty sure that nationalisation of major public interests works out cheaper (and more ethical) than letting it be privately owned by some major company only interested in lining their pockets.

As our world becomes more globalized, it's looking like one day they'll be a world central government and bank. Could this be a good thing? One bureaucracy governing everyone else? Sounds a lot like communism. Well, it is communism, and this is the massive irony of it all - if one major conglomerate controls and regulates the entire economic market, that IS communism. Communism is the opposite of capitalism - the state owns everything, or rather the bureaucrats own everything and the public do as they're told.

Maybe I'm way over my head here. But as usual, balance is the key. We can't let major businesses and corporations take over every single industry until we end up with a monopolised market. Competitive markets are better for small businesses, and end up helping the people as a whole. But sadly, I'm just one person using Blogger, a site owned by Google, who is tapping away stuff a small portion of the world may agree with but have little power to do anything about. So maybe Planet Starbucks is the future.

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