April 12, 2014 3:45 pm
A friend posted this picture earlier today, and combined with another headline I read, really got me thinking. A good portion of this started out as a comment under that picture, but then I thought “Why should Facebook get these thoughts for free?”
One of the arguments against large corporations is that they are unjust; and, as much as those of us who recognize them as the energy driving the gears of our economy, they have proved by their actions that they need checks and balances to prevent that very thing. The key, of course, is to strike the right balance where growth is not hindered, but abuse is prevented.
Now, consider the pharmaceutical industry. The desire to produce medicines to help people live fuller lives is a good thing, but this picture (and the society it accurately represents) proves that they are no more immune to self-serving actions as the oft-termed “evil” coporations that produce food, consumable goods, technology, etc.
How about higher education? I don’t think anyone reading this ever heard, going through high school, “You know, when you finish here, you should go ahead and get a job, and be productive.” No, we all heard “Graduation is just the beginning; you need a 4-year degree before you’re really ready! Because it’s so important, we’ll outright give you some money, and lend you the rest; don’t worry, this will be easy to pay off once you’re out there making six figures!” Yet, who is benefiting from our current under-30 sea of student loan debt? Colleges and banks, that’s who. Meanwhile, students are finding no job market for their degrees. Were they sold a useless product?
The point is that, in each of these cases, the original thought was a good one. This product will make people’s lives better. This pill will take away pain. This knowledge will give you a leg up in the world. Then, bit by bit, that germ of an idea grows, until you end up with something large and successful, which leads to an increasingly self-serving outlook. It’s the old “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” thing in real life.
The key to this is character in those who gain this notoriety. However, we cannot control others. In our fallen state, the one thing we can control is our reaction. Do we really need that product? Have these degrees really lead to higher incomes? Do these drugs’ claims make sense? “Buyer beware” is always good advice. If more people took it, maybe the market for the speculative advertising that has launched these areas into such heights would dry up, and they would have to start being more honest about what they can really provide.
One final note - government is no more immune to this than education, medicine, or corporations.