Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Road From Citizen to Consumer

It's like a frog boiling in water. I heard a few people decrying the constant use of the word "consumer" instead of "customer" during the mid to late 90's. I don't know when the "consumer confidence" reports started, but they seemed to be more and more prominently discussed in corporate media. At first it seems like such a minor thing, and you think to yourself, big deal, it's just a word. Consumer vs. customer. Consumer vs. citizen. So what?

Well, it seems to reflect a great deal on how both multinationals and government view customers and citizens, respectively. They are expected to buy and vote, and then shut up. Activism/thinking/criticism is not required. Presidents have become likened to CEOs instead of public servants. Extending that analogy, presidents are now beholden to their shareholders (the corporations that bought and paid for their position) instead of the people.

The state of things was made blatantly obvious by our current president right after 9/11. What did he tell the citizenry, oops, I mean, consumers, they could do? That's right. Go SHOPPING. Now that's leadership a CEO can admire.

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