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JUNE 6, 2011 10:48AM

Complacent consumers have few if any rights

Rate: 3 Flag


Back in the Nineties I was standing in line at the grocery store behind a couple that must have been old enough to remember the depression as young adults. They were attempting to use coupons from the store that they were attending but the cashier, who was probably in her teens, said that they couldn’t do so since the fine print said that they were only redeemable at participating stores and this apparently wasn’t one of them. When the old couple objected she even laughed at them in a condescending manner as if they were daffy. The bag boy was probably about the same age and he chuckled a little too. These two kids were probably making slightly more than the minimum wage and they probably never had to worry about anything more serious than getting money for pizza or beer. The old couple ignored the impolite behavior and started complaining about the corporate manipulation; although they probably didn’t express themselves in a manner that might be considered educated or dignified. The majority of their shopping cart wound up being left at the store un purchased; the only things they bought were the things that either were redeemable with the coupon or that they didn’t have one for it anyway.


I don’t remember exactly how old my sneakers were on this particular day.


On another occasion that must have been in 1993 or maybe 1994 I dropped something off at a store for the manager and he commented on my sneakers since it was slow and they were in pretty rough shape. I know the year must be accurate because that is the only time that I would have been visiting this particular store. After he pointed it out to me I had to admit that they were in rough shape which was surprising because they couldn’t have been that old. I was able to remember at that time exactly, give or take a couple weeks when I had bought those sneakers and it was about thirteen months earlier. This may seem like a long time for sneakers to last now but I was quite certain at that time that sneakers previously lasted much longer, at least eighteen if not twenty-four months back in the early eighties or late seventies. In fact I remember that after about a year the shoe laces routinely broke and we would just go out and buy a new pair of shoe laces so that the sneakers would last another year instead of replacing the sneakers. I’m still reasonably sure that that estimate is accurate and I’m positive about the thirteen month estimate.


Now sneakers routinely fall apart after no more than six months; and I’m not nearly as active as I was either in 1993 or in the early eighties. Not only that but I’m more likely to wear something else part of the time than I was back then so sneakers should last longer now than they did then yet they don’t.


I didn’t start saving receipts after noticing that sneakers fall apart much faster so the situation got much worse.


This isn’t just happening to me; this is a process called planned obsolescence that couldn’t be an accident at all; even if you doubt that this is a clear sign of gross incompetence. This is fraud! The corporations have been using this process to steal billions of dollars from consumers every year!! In fact if you assume that everyone in the USA has to buy just one extra pair of sneakers per year for twenty dollars then it costs six billion dollars per year for consumers. This is probably an underestimate since most sneakers cost more than that and if not for the fact that I wore something else half the time (I used to wear sneakers all the time all day practically every day) it would have fallen apart sooner and it doesn’t figure in appliances and many other things. Once other things were figured in it would surly cost hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars a year for consumers for this fraud. While buying a new pair of sneakers, and saving the receipt, I noticed the customer service department which was a little down the hall away from where people do their shopping. This is just barely out of hearing distance. I’m quite certain that they used to be farther away. My best guess is that consumers could see damn well why they put it so far away and complained so they learned to put it just out of hearing distance without making the consumers walk too far.

I have read a book (“Born to Buy” by Juliet Schor, this is only one out of many books and articles on the subject) that talked about how they were conducting research into how to market to little children as young as six or perhaps as young as three when they are old enough to learn how to talk. This research was considered proprietary, which means that the secrecy of it is protected by law. As indicated in a previous blog Proprietary information is by definition a conspiracy which is designed so that the consumers and workers have no right to access the information they need to make educated decision about thier participation in the economy. And to make matters worse Obama is considering legislation to increase the protection for these proprietary laws (another previous blog); they of course phrase it in a manner which is designed to sound legitimate. They are studying how to manipulate the children and instead of passing laws to protect the children the politicians pass laws to protect the secrecy of the manipulators. It is virtually guaranteed that they also have other people research how complacent consumers have been so that they can increase their profits by increasing the volume of planned obsolescence. The people that make the sneakers don’t make didelly squat, nor do the foolish teens that laughed at the older couple mentioned earlier who accept what the corporations tell them without scrutiny. The people that do the research to increase planned obsolescence almost certainly make much more money and the people in the corporate office are making a killing.

On top of that the workers in this country have to compete with sweat shop labor over seas so wages are being suppressed. Trade is being globalized without globalizing workers rights, consumer’s right, environmental protection or anything else that interferes with the profits of the corporations.

The reason this is happening is because the corporations have gained control of all the most powerful institutions and they are no longer accountable for much if anything. The Mass Media has been consolidated and they receive an enormous amount of money from advertising for these products so they don’t do more than a token amount of reporting on the subject; which enables them to make a lame claim that they are protecting consumers. The politicians accept millions if not billions of bribes openly and legally. The only reason they can get away with this is because the people who take all these bribes redefined the definition so that they could make a lame claim that it is fair participation in democracy. Some of this bribe money is spent on research on how to manipulate the public during the campaigns and keep them from realizing how corrupt the system is; which I discussed in my previous blog on how Political Psychologists are suppressing democracy. If the public want to address this problem we’ll have to stop being so complacent, start saving receipts and start electing people that actually represent the public instead of just pretending to do so. In order to do this it will be necessary to pass some form of Election reform or something similar so that the public can control the election process not those that have been corrupting it for decades if not centuries. It would also help if we had an Educational revolution that enables the public to access the information they need to participate in democracy. 


The sneakers I now have WILL last well over a year; either that or the free replacements will! That isn’t in doubt; the only question is how much noise I will have to make or whether I will have to yell and scream and ignore foolish spoiled children who act like I’m daffy.

To read more about Planned Obsolescence see the following sites, the first few are the ones that I thought were the most productive:

The following provides a description of how Planned Obsolescence is used intentionally in a business plan:

The following site even brags about using Planned Obsolescence in their business:

The following are additional sites that discuss planned obsolescence:,2933,44583,00.html

For some of my favorite blogs plus a summation see my one year best blog review or a complete table of context of my blogs


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I checked the author tags to find out what else was written about planned obsolescence and there were only three other blogs on the subject; one of them was mine.

That number will grow even if I have to do them all myself.
The IMF and World Bank are virtually owned and operated by the same corporations that corrupt the US political system. We need election reform to change that too. These institutions are heavily influenced by the US government which acts on behalf of the corporations when they’re supposed to act on behalf of the public.
On top of that by keeping a lot of people oppressed around the world they are maintaining a breeding ground full of people with legitimate reasons to hate what the corporations from the USA are doing to them. And the money that could be going to either workers that legitimately earn it or into improved products for the consumer goes to shipping, advertising, bribes and many other non-productive things.

We should be able to get products of a higher quality cheaper except for all the other things behind planned obsolescence many of which are certainly hidden in those trade secrets that are designed to hide fraud more than legitimate secrets.

Thanks for the reply and the rate too although put too much stock in rates since they tend to be more about popularity.
Yes, I think that democracy requires an active and informed and engaged citizenry. Many I think are engaged in the Casey Anthony trial. :)

p.s. I wonder what it is that these state attorneys general actually do? We pay them a lot of money to sit on their duffs.
My kids sneakers only last about 4 months. Electronic gadgets wear out or are out dated in no time at all. Things used to be able to be fixed. Now it is more cost effective to just replace it. All part of our throw away consumer economy. But hey, it's good for growth...of our landfills.
When I was growing up we grew out of sneakers and passed them down. now they aren't even trying to do a good job.

Save your reciepts and make some noise not just about sneakers but apliences too. The more noise the less they can get away with for starters but still we need reform to make it easier to maintain an efficient economy for the majority.

Casey Who??
When W. was president he unilaterally withdrew from many treaties that were previously passed. These weren’t ratified directly by the public however some of them were better for the public than a total lack of a treaty. If the public could elect truly democratic representatives they should be able to do so for any treaties that have been made by the corporations for the corporations and of the corporations.

These are even worse than planned obsolescence that is only designed to fall apart; since in some cases when they collapse the consumer may literally be risking his/her life.
When they were using union labor in America they were making better shoes and treating their workers better at the same time now there are many stories about how contractors for companies like Nike are abusing their employees. By using subcontractors they create more middle men and add to the shipping costs. One way or another these has the net result of reducing the quality of the sneakers and forcing workers to work under sweatshop or virtual slave conditions. They don’t keep the price down instead they spread the profits among a larger number of contractors without paying the workers for the little work that is actually worth something. They wind up paying more money to people that do marketing, planned obsolescence research designed to reduce quality, endorsements from celebrities, campaign contributions and other things; the only thing they don’t seem to spend much money on is the production of the sneakers that they’re actually selling.
According to an article at Ehow titled “Facts about Nike sweat shops” in Vietnam, China and other locations Nike has a history of dealing with complaints by signing contracts with factories in countries that have fewer rights for their workers; then when the complaints keep coming in they claim they have higher standards and that they expect their subcontractors to oblige. The evidence clearly indicates this is routine and the improvements rarely if ever come and they still don’t pass their savings onto the consumers just the shoddy merchandise. They’re also having semi routine disasters including a Shoe factory fire in Vietnam. the unions stood up to these in the beginning of the twentieth century so the corporations just moved their sweat shops where there was no protection. Nike is like the Corleone family they have lots of “buffers” only they call them subcontractors.