Thursday, April 4, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 123


 
 









 
Protest big bad businesses Friday

Brandon Moeller

Former president and 1919 Boston police strike breaker Calvin Coolidge once said, "The business of America is business."

This oft-quoted adage is still relevant today as American corporations extend their bounds overseas in the pursuit of cheap labor in
the name of free trade. 

Americans who have received enough of the American dream to keep them from questioning the policies of big business usually
tolerate this form of corporate imperialism. American workers who see their jobs sent over to foreign markets struggle on to make
ends meet for their families with the belief that this is the land of milk and honey.

But every once in a while something magnificent happens in the complex world of American economics, something so grave and so
outrageous that it triggers a destabilization of the American worker's resolve toward corporate America.

The most recent of these attitude-changing occurrences was the collapse of Enron, the largest bankruptcy in American history. 

After Enron fell, as you may recall, many investors withdrew from Wall Street because they lost faith in the system. Enron was
supposed to be an example of the glories and triumphs of corporate America, but instead as the public later found out it was
merely a display of genius in illegal accounting and deception. Only those in the know were able to bail out in time.

Meanwhile, the average Enron workers were screwed as they watched their retirement savings disappear faster than a tear could
roll down the cheek of Linda Lay on prime-time television. Local workers are still smarting from the layoffs caused by the impending
collapse that went underreported in the local press until it finally happened in the bitter end.

This is why so many ex-Enron employees are furious, as the local pendulum has swung back over to anti-corporate sentiment,
unseen in Houston for a very long time.

The moment is right for protesting big business in all its cruel forms. The people will gather next to the Enron "Crooked E" Building
at Antioch Park, 1400 Smith St. at Clay Street in downtown Houston, to proclaim, "People are more important than profits!"

The Big Bad Business Day event is sponsored by the Houston Global Awareness Collective. Speakers will include UH's own Bob
Buzzanco, former member of the Texas Legislature Sissy Farenthold, UT journalism professor Robert Jensen and a handful of
others, as well as participants with the courage and eloquence to step up to the bullhorn and voice their concern of the corporate
agenda to ruin American society through the endless quest for money.

Enron is just one example of the growing problem of corporations. The dominant class is enjoying unprecedented wealth that has
not been seen since before the great stock market crash in 1929.

The wealthiest 5 percent of the population rules the American people by daily increasing margins the latest figures claim that
segment controls 60 percent of wealth, according to Washington, D.C., nonprofit group Citizen Works, which was founded by Ralph
Nader. The top 1 percent controls 38.1 percent of the money.

The average Ken Lay sort, the greedy executive and administrative decision-maker usually holding the title of chief executive officer,
makes 531 times more than the entry-level employee.

This trend doesn't smell like democracy to me. But for the average American worker, putting a name to it is senseless.
Overwhelming attitudes of hopelessness, laziness and apathy have lead most to remove themselves from participating in the
system that governs them and a majority of eligible voters not to vote (especially in local elections that affect them most visibly). This
is a clear indication of dissatisfaction with the political and economic system that has swallowed them.

I theorize this is mainly because high school students don't learn the true history of their country, but rather which brand name is
most desirable by their peers. We have become a branded people, obsessed with name-brand goods that are produced overseas
in sweatshop labor conditions and are manufactured for planned obsolescence.

This is why the life of most new electric household appliances has dropped, contrary to technological advances that should prevent
this.

Come out to yell about all of this and more on Friday. I'll see you in the park at 5 p.m. sharp.

Moeller, a senior communication 
major, can be reached at brandonmoeller@hotmail.com.


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