Friday, August 26, 2011

I don't understand why people love to bash up big corporations while happily consuming their products or working for them.

Take Coca Cola for instance - it's probably one of the most abused companies in the world. It's considered "cool" to be anti-Coca Cola because it's this mammoth company that sells harmful stuff to people. But that doesn't stop people from consuming Coke or any other carbonated beverages.

Or Nike. They were once accused of serious human rights violations as most of their merchandise was manufactured in sweat shops in developing countries. But that didn't stop people from buying their products.

So why don't we stop and take a reality check? The truth is these companies are just doing business, and if we have an ethical problem with the nature of their business or what they're doing we should have the courage to boycott their products. Whenever someone bashes Coke I want to ask them if they can assure me they haven't bought a single can/bottle of Coke since they started feeling the way they do about the company - not even on the hottest, sultriest of days. If they can assure me that's the case I will respect their opinion (I still don't agree with it because I don't think it's right to blame companies for the stupidity of consumers, but I respect it). But you can't go around bashing companies and consuming their products at the same time because it's convenient for you.

I come across people who trash the corporate sector all the time. Truth is that the same corporate sector pays our salaries. The standard of living we enjoy, the things we can buy, the places we can travel to are all thanks to the corporate sector. You needn't be in love with it but you need to realize why you're able to afford your lifestyle. Are you willing to give it all up and live a much less privileged existence? No? Then shut up.

The other thing I don't understand - and I expect to get a lot of flak for it - is our attitude towards cigarette companies. I don't smoke, never wanted to. Cigarette fumes make me cough and I wish people I love and care for didn't smoke either. Yet I think the way cigarette manufacturers are discriminated against is very unfair.

They are a legal business, then why are they not allowed to advertise like other legal businesses? First their right to communicate with their consumers was taken away from them, then they were forced to put ghastly pictures of people with mouth and tongue cancer on their packs (that hasn't dissuaded smokers from buying cigarettes but that's another story). And now the only means of communication remaining with them - the pack - is being taken away from them in Australia (there may soon be a legislation forcing tobacco companies to plain package their cigarettes).

I read a report on one of the companies planning to sue the Australian government for discrimination if the legislation is indeed passed, and rightly so. If the government truly believes cigarette companies are diabolical, then they should be banned. But they never will be because the tobacco industry yields the highest amount of taxes for the government among all industrues. You can't give a company the same status as other companies and then discriminate against them. Yes, these companies are selling products that can kill people but they're selling these products because people want to buy them. Like with everything else, I believe there is supply because their is demand. The onus is on the consumer to know what's good for them and what's not.


The knife said...

and all the people here on the anti-corrpution drive have of course never taken or given a bribe

WSW said...

I know!!
One more "sensitive" issue with most people esp women is the fairness creams and yet the sales figures of these creams drive some of the biggest FMCGs. And I have seen some variant of "whitening" product with most of the so called "feminist" and "uppah" class ladies as well. One of the days I read a BBC (or some other foreign media)report expressing shock at south asian fascination for whitening products-felt like pointing out the shelves of self tanners stocked in developed western countries.
Every one has a different aspirations and these corporations are catering to it.

Scarlett said...

@The Knife - I have my own views on the anti corruption drive. Maybe that's fodder for another post.

@WSW - The tanning thing is slightly different, isn't it? White women want a tan b/c they find dark skin beautiful, whereas there is a deep-seated feeling of racism and non-whites being inferior to white people behind Indians' fascination with light skin.

And yes, market for fairness creams is significantly bigger than that for any other personal care product.

Moony said...

I agree on the smoking bit. It should be completely banned, the way things have been done seems more hypocritical.

Scarlett said...

@Moony - The tobacco industry is the biggest taxpayer of all industries, so the government isn't likely to ban tobacco companies any time soon.