Why So Many Americans Feel So Powerless

A security guard recently told me he didn’t know how much he’d be earning from week to week because his firm kept changing his schedule and his pay. “They just don’t care,” he said.

A traveler I met in the Dallas Fort-Worth Airport last week said she’d been there eight hours but the airline responsible for her trip wouldn’t help her find another flight leaving that evening. “They don’t give a hoot,” she said.

Someone I met in North Carolina a few weeks ago told me he had stopped voting because elected officials don’t respond to what average people like him think or want. “They don’t listen,” he said.

What connects these dots? As I travel around America, I’m struck by how utterly powerless most people feel.

The companies we work for, the businesses we buy from, and the political system we participate in all seem to have grown less accountable. I hear it over and over: They don’t care; our voices don’t count.  

A large part of the reason is we have fewer choices than we used to have. In almost every area of our lives, it’s now take it or leave it.

Companies are treating workers as disposable cogs because most working people have no choice. They need work and must take what they can get.

Although jobs are coming back from the depths of the Great Recession, the portion of the labor force actually working remains lower than it’s been in over thirty years – before vast numbers of middle-class wives and mothers entered paid work.

Which is why corporations can get away with firing workers without warning, replacing full-time jobs with part-time and contract work, and cutting wages. Most working people have no alternative.  

Consumers, meanwhile, are feeling mistreated and taken for granted because they, too, have less choice.

U.S. airlines, for example, have consolidated into a handful of giant carriers that divide up routes and collude on fares. In 2005 the U.S. had nine major airlines. Now we have just four.

It’s much the same across the economy. Eighty percent of Americans are served by just one Internet Service Provider – usually Comcast, AT&T, or Time-Warner.

The biggest banks have become far bigger. In 1990, the five biggest held just 10 percent of all banking assets. Now they hold almost 45 percent.

Giant health insurers are larger; the giant hospital chains, far bigger; the most powerful digital platforms (Amazon, Facebook, Google), gigantic.

All this means less consumer choice, which translates into less power.

Our complaints go nowhere. Often we can’t even find a real person to complain to. Automated telephone menus go on interminably.

Finally, as voters we feel no one is listening because politicians, too, face less and less competition. Over 85 percent of congressional districts are considered “safe” for their incumbents in the upcoming 2016 election; only 3 percent are toss-ups.

In presidential elections, only a handful of states are now considered “battlegrounds” that could go either Democratic or Republican. 

So, naturally, that’s where the candidates campaign. Voters in most states won’t see much of them. These voters’ votes are literally taken for granted.

Even in toss-up districts and battle-ground states, so much big money is flowing in that average voters feel disenfranchised.

In all these respects, powerlessness comes from a lack of meaningful choice. Big institutions don’t have to be responsive to us because we can’t penalize them by going to a competitor.

And we have no loud countervailing voice forcing them to listen.

Fifty years ago, a third of private-sector workers belonged to labor unions. This gave workers bargaining power to get a significant share of the economy’s gains along with better working conditions – and a voice. Now, fewer than 7 percent of private sector workers are unionized.  

In the 1960s, a vocal consumer movement demanded safe products, low prices, and antitrust actions against monopolies and business collusion. Now, the consumer movement has become muted.    

Decades ago, political parties had strong local and state roots that gave politically-active citizens a voice in party platforms and nominees. Now, the two major political parties have morphed into giant national fund-raising machines.

Our economy and society depend on most people feeling the system is working for them. 

But a growing sense of powerlessness in all aspects of our lives – as workers, consumers, and voters – is convincing most people the system is working only for those at the top.

Dave Ramsey: Cash-back rebates can be a hassle for consumers - Joplin Globe

Dave Ramsey: Cash-back rebates can be a hassle for consumers – Joplin Globe

Dave Ramsey: Cashback rebates can be a hassle for consumers
Joplin Globe
I like this question. Most consumers don’t think about how the process works. They only care that it’s benefitting them from a financial standpoint. Let’s say you buy an item for $ 1,000, and you get a cash rebate for $ 100. Basically, you just paid $ 900

cash back – Google News

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We are more than consumers: we are humans, and our survival depends on us understanding this on the deepest level. We have responsibility beyond the reach of our dollars, and we have knowledge beyond academic degrees. Part of the reason we don’t smell the smoke is because we live primarily in urban areas (already collapsed ecosystems) and barely notice how many species are dying, and partly because we are so distracted by other issues.

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 Nigeria’s Largest Markets

170 million people, with per capita income above $5000, and a burgeoning middle class; it is easy to see why Nigeria is one of the most sought-after hubs for consumer goods globally. This unavoidably forces the establishment of large markets, specialized in retailing either groceries, tech devices or households appliances.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is home to some of the continent’s biggest and busiest markets. A typical day at one of Nigeria’s busier markets involve long walks and aggressive bargaining, manoeuvring through a mob of fellow buyers, and the frequent calls from traders seeking to lure passers-by to their shops.

Local phrases commonly chorused by these traders include “Oga, wetin you wan buy?”, “Madam I get am for shop!”

Patronizing one of these markets is usually considered a hectic venture. But if you are up for it, here are some of the country’s most visited. 

Photos from the top:

1. Nicknamed the ‘China of Africa’, Ariaria Market – located in Aba, Abia State – is one of the largest in Eastern Nigeria. The region is home to the country’s most prolific trading ethnic group, the Ibos, and contributes a significant portion to Nigeria’s consumer goods imports. Chaotic, industrious, rowdy, cheap, inferior; these are a few of the words used to describe the region’s busiest retail hub. As one of the biggest African markets, traders troop in daily from across West Africa, with some coming from as far as East Africa.

2. Alaba International Market, Lagos is the biggest market for electrical appliances, electronics, and accessories in Nigeria. Its customer friendly location has made it one of the country’s most patronised retail hubs. To further expand its reach, it recently launched an online platform, drawing customers not resident in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

3. Kurmi Market, Kano is one of Nigeria’s oldest markets, dating back over 500 years ago to the reign of Mohammed Rumfa in 1463. It was once a trade centre for the North West Africa region. At Kurmi, you can find virtually anything from groceries, to food items, fabrics, and even cattle. As a tourist attraction, it offers souvenir options such as locally woven materials, dyed fabrics, sculptures, carved stones and beaded jewellery.

4. Computer Village, Lagos is the largest IT hub in West Africa, home to prominent dealers of mobile phones, computers and its accessories. According to Omobola Johnson, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Computer Village generates about $2 billion to the economy annually.

Ed’s note: Read the rest for a few more!

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destiny-saiyan014 asked:

So I know you watch zero punctuation but what about your thoughts on Jim Sterling just curious

I watch his main show fairly regularly, but don’t bother with any of the tertiary stuff he does (LPs and the like). Like Croshaw, he’s said some really gross shit in the past, but unlike Croshaw, he’s largely owned up to it, and seems to have genuinely changed for the better. I don’t agree with everything he says, and his persona is obviously pretty grating, but all in all I think his presence is a net positive, because he is a loud and powerful voice for consumer advocacy.

And that’s a perspective that’s sorely needed, at a time when game companies are taking increasingly hardline anti-consumer positions, and the vast majority of the mainstream gaming community not only accepts such things, but is actively hostile to anyone who questions them. Unabashed consumer advocacy is depressingly rare in this industry, making Sterling an important part of the conversation, whatever his other failings. 

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