New Internationalist

How Corporations Steal Your Time

Issue 343

Click here to subscribe to the print edition. [image, unknown] New Internationalist 343[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown] March 2002[image, unknown] Click here to search the mega index.

Speed-Up / CORPORATE THEFT

How Corporations Steal Your Time
Classic corporate time-stealing comes in the guise of ‘selling our soul to
the company store’, as the old song goes. Since the dawn of industrialization employers
have sought to control and wring maximum effort from their employees' time. But these
days corporate time-grabbing extends way beyond the workplace.

[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] On the phone
Trying to find out what is wrong with your computer, at first you just can't get through. The US software industry leaves customers on hold for three billion minutes a year. Finally you get to enter telephone hell. An endless series of options are offered – you have five choices about the kind of software you are enquiring about, four options as to what kind of service contract you have, four options about the kind of problem you face. Finally in desperation you push the option for an operator. A mechanical voice says that you have made an incorrect selection and hits you with a busy signal.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown]

Lifelong learning
The latest cliché of the cyber-age. It is common sense that we learn as long as we live. But 'lifelong learning' means something quite different. The speed at which jobs and the requirements of technology change, in an economy dedicated to perpetual growth, demands that our skills be constantly 'upgraded'. This is something that corporations prefer we do at our own expense and in our own time. So we stay after work, take mail-order or internet degrees, go on training courses – all in the often vain hope of hanging on to our jobs.

[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]



[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown] At the airport
The plane is late – by over an hour. When you're permitted to board, the pilot announces that the plane you were intended to fly on has been put out of service due to mechanical trouble. Whoa, that's a relief! What he doesn't say is that the airline's 'plane-to-schedule' ratio is such that replacements are thin on the ground. You move out on to the runway. Only to hear that the airline has lost its take-off slot and you'll be 'tarmacked' for an additional half-hour.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown] Ad flood
It hits you everywhere. Telemarketing, junk-mail, junk-e-mail, product placement in the movies, bombarded by ads on TV and drowned by jingles on the radio. Sometimes even computer-generated voice-ads over the phone. Billboards, logos, ads on buses and trains, ads in parks. The corporate logo a fashion statement on T-shirts and shoes. Ads have even invaded cash-starved libraries and schools that sell public space for corporate largesse. This array of commercial pollution eats into your time.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]
[image, unknown] Highway gridlock
You finally buy the freedom machine. It looked so good in the ad, perched on top of that butte in Arizona. You can finally get away from the crowds and out to breathe that clean wilderness air. But here you are stuck in a traffic jam, bumper-to-bumper as far as the eye can see. You can’t roll down the windows for fear of choking on exhaust fumes. The companies that sold you the car are part of the roads lobby that pushes for highways over public transit. They want everyone to drive a freedom machine.
[image, unknown]
[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown]

 


Previous page.
Choose another issue of NI.
Go to the contents page.
Go to the NI home page.
Next page.


This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on How Corporations Steal Your Time

Leave your comment