Writing these blog posts has been difficult. It has forced me to look at 25 years in sales and ask myself If I have been doing the right thing. Working for Aames was not the right thing to do, and I wonder why I never realized that before. The biggest wrong I committed, while working for Aames, was convincing myself that I was helping people. Any help I may have given my customers was purely short term assistance. Many of my customers who were granted lower interest rates were given three years fixed mortgages. After three years, their interest rates went variable. Very few of those loans had ceilings. The logic behind this was it gave them a chance to fix their credit so they could refinance again before their mortgage rates went through the roof. In actual fact we were being too optimistic. Between outsourcing and salary stagnation, chances were that in three years those people’s credit were in worse shape than ever. Then after three years their mortgages went through the roof.
Belief is a very strong factor in any sale. If the salesperson does not believe in the product, neither will the customer. There were just too many reps who did not believe in what they were selling. That should have warned me that something was wrong. I knew one salesperson who sold through intimidation. He specialized in single female home owners, and subtly threatened them into signing. Then he grabbed the commission check and ran to another company before the hammer came down. I knew another salesperson who specialized in single male homeowners. Her usual working clothes was a leather mini split up to the waist at the side, and a very low cut top.
Despite these signs that things were totally wrong, I continued to believe in what I was doing. Conviction is more than half of sales. An effective salesman believes in what he is selling or is a good enough actor to truly make the customer believe in what he is doing. It occurs to me that there are many more actors in sales than I originally thought.
Conviction was the difference between getting the application and credit report or not getting the application and earning the wrath of Aames. Aames had a lot of really idiotic rules, but one of the worst was their insistence on running credit reports for all customers. I had more than one customer offer to fax or email me their most recent credit report. Later, I would work for companies that were fine with customers faxing their credit reports. However to complete an application for Aames you had to run the credit report, and in order to do that you had to get the customer’s social security number.
To this day I am amazed at the amount of people who gave me their social security numbers over the phone. I always left the social security number for last. I would get the customer on the phone and we would talk a little bit and I would talk him into giving a phone application. I specialized in calling people with high interest variable loans, and they were desperate to get out from under. It was easy for me to get them to apply. The biggest objection I had to overcome were the people who had tried over and over again and kept getting turned down. I usually gave them a pep-talk. I encouraged them to take one more chance while mentioning all the people with shaky credit that Aames managed to help.
I always started with the basics. I would ask their names and addresses and get them talking about their homes and their mortgage woes. I would make appropriately sympathetic sounds as they volunteered the information I needed to put on the form. Once in a while I had to give them a little help. Older people had no idea of the market value of their homes. Generally they made me put a too low value on it. By the time I reached the end of the application, I was an old friend. That’s when I asked for the social security number.
About one in three just gave it to me. Not only did they give it to me, but called their spouses at work to get his or her social security number since I needed to pull a joint credit report About two out of three customers gave me a hard time. This is where belief comes in. I promised them that they were in no danger, their credit scores would not go down and their identities were safe. When I realized that too many credit hits would bring down a customer’s credit scores, I stopped promising that. I would estimate a safe time to pull their credit scores and schedule them for a call back at that time. You would not believe the amount of crap I had to live through when I was caught doing it. The Regional or district manager who caught me backing out on an application would lecture me mercilessly. My job was to get the application and not to worry about the state of the customer’s credit. So when I got the occasional person who was just not going to give me his social security number, I made it a point to argue with them when the brass was listening. It made me look good.
I was very careful with personal information. I would shred my notes and make sure that my copies of the applications were put safely away where nobody could get them. I was the only one. Everybody else just put their notes in the trash and old applications and notes were available for anybody to rifle through and pull out and use. These notes not only included the social security number but birthdays and addresses. Everything you needed for full scale identity theft was in that office. It only recently occurred to me that there was an entire room full of filing cabinets which was never locked and anybody could go through and pull out whatever information they wanted.
That was what I did for Aames Home Loan for a forty hour six day week. Most of my applications were rejected for various reasons. The most common was bad credit. Unlike other companies, Aames was very careful of the credit scores of the loans they accepted. That meant that most of Aames’s customers could have gotten a better deal elsewhere So the beginning of my month would see about two dozen loans in my pipeline but on a really good month, only two or three would fund. Somehow that was my fault for finding the wrong customers. In Aames Home Loan, failure was always an underling’s fault.
Whenever I state that health care and housing are human rights, I get one of three answers. The least used answer is that health care and housing do not belong in the public sector, and that nationalizing them will lead to big government. Somehow this all ties in with the war on drugs, but nobody has clearly told me how national health and housing leads to violence in Bolivia. Another answer I get is that national health and housing are socialism and a threat to the Constitution and the Capitalist way of life. Most people simply object to the expense. My reply to all three answers is that medical care and housing are considered to be human rights in Europe. Then I ask the question nobody seems to be able to answer. Why do people in Europe have more rights than people in the U.S?
The American voters drank the Reagan Kool Aid, that getting rid of government will safe guard our Constitutional rights. Many people continue to believe this despite the evidence. Deregulation does not guarantee our rights. The more government we get rid of, the stronger grip Wall St. has on us. The American government was not meant to be a rubber stamp for EXXON and Halliburton. The American government was meant as a limit between human beings and soulless corporations. Without government, the corporations can do anything they want with us, and they don’t have to worry about consequences.
Our Constitution was meant to be an instrument of the will of the people, and that is why the Founders built change into the Constitution. Capitalism is not a part of the Constitution. The Federalist Papers extolled the virtues of Capitalism. Jefferson and Jay did not have everything their own way. Regulations protecting the individual from corporations were written into the Constitution despite the Federalist Papers. We also have a series of amendments so that the Constitution can change with the times. As conditions change to make a strict adherence to capitalism nothing more than a religious affectation, the Constitution will still be just as strong as we evolve into a more practical and humane economic system. Our civil rights will be just as strong and maybe stronger, for having a government that will support the limits between government and corporations.
The people who do not want the expense of government are really the people who drank the Kool Aid. Freedom is not a free ride. There is a monetary expense in protecting and expanding our freedom. People in Europe have a strong social safety net. They have national health. They have housing. Those who work get a mandatory month’s vacation. Why, they even have the disposable income to go to other countries for their vacations. Did you ever stop to wonder why people in Europe have the disposable income to go on vacation when most families in the U.S do not? They have higher taxes, but they have much less out of pocket expenses. Their rent is subsidized. Their health care is through their taxes. Their electric bills are though their taxes. Public transportation is subsidized. The average American pays more in out of pocket bills than a European pays through taxes. This does not mean that everything is perfect and there are no slums, but it does mean a much lower crime rate. It means that everybody has a roof over their heads. It means that not everybody has private hospital rooms, but everybody has a minimum standard of health care.
We, the people of the United States, have nothing to lose and everything to gain if we restore our government. We will have to wrest the government out of the hands of the corporations. The only people who would suffer from that would be the criminals who just stole 700 billion dollars from the American people. They would be forced to obey the law and pay their fair share of taxes for the first time in decades. No, it will not be easy to force them to pay their share, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Ask the early heroes of the unions. We can do it if we put our minds to it.
Suppression of labor is an important part of preserving corporate power. Before the Reagan administration, unions placed employees on an equal footing with employers. Wages were agreed on through bargaining, which made employment an equal marketplace. Unions were in charge of retirement funds and benefits instead of employers. This gave employees greater freedom, security, and space to object to unsafe conditions. Outsourcing would never have happened if the unions were still there to protect the American employee.
I am amazed that the conspiracy-minded Libertarians have not made the connection with their Goldwater go-America rhetoric and the fact that we are all losing our standard of living. I suppose that seeing through the free market propaganda would mean that they would have to see past their illusions. Fascism cannot exist unless the victims identify with their oppressors. I suppose that conspiracies are part of the denial mechanism, and help Libertarians to ignore the class divisions in America.
The basis of Libertarian propaganda is the Protestant Work Ethic, where the rich are blessed by God and the the poor damned to hell. Everybody wants to be blessed by God, and nobody wants to go to hell. The original Puritans rallied around the church to prove their worth and superiority. The indentured servants, mostly Irish Catholics, converted to the Congregational Church to prove that they were saved and therefor superior to their neighbors. The Protestant Work Ethic has left us with the attitude that wealth equals superiority.
Another aspect of religion in Libertarian thought is the idea that Marketplace will somehow make everything alright. Once Marketplace is unchained by restrictive government regulations, he will smite the evil corporations with economic readjustments, and Libertarians will rise to the top through their own God given superiority. Unfettered by government regulations, corporations would soon grow into megamonopolies. This would leave our nation, our economy, and our lives subject to corporate whim. Personally, prefer to fight a future where Wall Street CEOs rule like royalty.
This is all reinforced by grade school nationalism. Free Market Capitalism is supposed to work because it was believed in by the Founders. The fact that Andrew Jackson had to support laws against monopolies is simply irrelevant to the Libertarians. This certainly works to the employer’s advantage. It is much easier and more cost effective to manage self-deluded employees than employees who will stand up and set limits. Bill Gates would have very different business practices if his employees had a union behind them to demand reasonable work environments. Perhaps Google and Yahoo! would not be helping China oppress its citizens if their workers had a union supporting human rights.
“Who are the unions to tell the corporations how rich they can get?” is a question often asked of me by Libertarians. My response is, “who are the corporations to tell me how poor I can be?” That’s what it comes down to. There are always limits to how you can make money. I assume that the average mugger feels that assault and robbery laws are very unfair. I imagine that the Nigerian scammers would like to outlaw websites exposing their crimes. Employees have forgotten that many of these so-called restrictive labor laws exist to protect them. Their parents and grandparents fought like crazy to have them established. Libertarians are only shooting themselves in the feet when they try to repeal them.
Today many of the people who originally supported Reagan and his deregulations are now either homeless or facing homelessness. The same can happen to the Libertarians. I really doubt that the Libertarians would be Libertarians if it were not for the failures in the public schools. We will look at that in the next post.
Corporations are leeches sucking the life’s blood out of any government which allows them to grow out of control. Many of the people who penned the Constitution knew this. This is why the Constitution grants we the people the rights and powers to regulate corporations. This is why Libertarian propagandists keep quoting the Federalist Papers instead of the actual Constitution. When confronted with the actual Constitution, the Libertarian propagandists claim that the Founders didn’t really want government regulation of corporations. So Libertarians simply ignore the parts of the Constitution they don’t like.
The problem with corporations is that they are clever and adaptive parasites that rarely kill their hosts the same way twice. Nationalism is a form of protective coloring that helps corporations fool their victims into thinking that they are benign entities. In Germany, the corporations wrapped themselves in the trappings of socialism. They even called their political instrument the National Socialist Party and sucked out government money in the name of the people. The Nazis funded the construction of the Volkswagen factories, but it was Henry Ford who pocketed all the profits. Hitler began a program of guaranteed employment, but it was the government that was actually paying the salaries. The corporations were getting free labor.
American corporations are living in hog heaven. They have no less than 50 individual governments to suck dry, but they are held back by the Federal Government. For instance, in order for Enron to have ripped off the State of California as badly as they did, they had to trick the California voters into deregulating the state power industry and take it away from federal oversight. Once the feds were no longer monitoring its bookkeeping, Enron stole with impunity and then used Federal bankruptcy regulations to steal from their employees. This is the true purpose of the Libertarian party. The idea is to so weaken the Federal Government so that it can no longer regulate the corporations and Enron scams can become common business practices.
Having no real Constitutional means to deregulate themselves, the corporations rely on deception. The biggest lie that they are telling their true believers is the myth of government spending. According to the myth of government spending, all our tax money is stuffed into a giant mattress, and then parceled out by a Scrooge-like treasurer. I think that it is a major failure in our public school system that anybody would fall for that whopper.
The truth of the matter is that our tax money is an essential and irreplaceable part of our national economy. Our tax money is not stuffed into the Presidential mattress. Our tax money should be put to work keeping America healthy, working, and strong. Our tax money should be invested in industries which are on American soil and paying living wages to Americans. Our tax money should be invested in small business loans to guarantee competition in a capitalist economy, mortgages for affordable housing, and into other interest accumulating and profit making investments to assure the health of the American economy.
We do not spend our tax money. It is the interest on our tax money that is spent. Spending more money than is taxed is a sign of a healthy economy. After nearly 30 years of Neocon rule, we have an extremely sick economy. We have massive unemployment and homelessness which succeeds in keeping wages down for the few service jobs left in the U.S. Corporations are sucking out billions in profits while Americans are losing their homes, and the Libertarians blame the victims.
The idea behind all this is to so weaken the Federal Government that it will never again be an effective public guardian. The Libertarians wrap themselves up in the flag to pretend they act in the public interest. They make up evidence that the income tax is illegal and unAmerican; ignoring both the 18th Amendment and the Administrative Law Act which certainly makes the income tax legal. 30 years of Neocon rule has left the Federal Government too broke to effectively monitor corporate crime, and the corporate criminals who fund the Libertarian Party like that just fine. The fact that Libertarians, Born Again Christians, and the Neocons are all telling the same lie shows that they are all working for the same corporations.
This Post is for my friend Mikki.
Capitalism did not exactly take the intellectual world by storm. The intellectual elite and Bohemians of the 17th and 18th Centuries found it to be as bad an idea as Royalty. After all, Henry VIII began ennobling Capitalist burghers back in the 1600s. By the time the U.S Constitution was ratified, European Royalty were entirely capitalists and worked in tandem to keep the commoners out of commerce. By the early 1800s, the European intellectuals were waiting for the new American capitalists to become as corrupt and effete as European royalty.
One of the new Capitalist institutions that scared European thinkers the most was the concept of the corporation. Corporations were seen as monsters ravaging the lives of Europeans and Americans alike. Corporations were institutions where the wealthy could pool their resources and be treated as a single entity. Corporations were considered legal individuals under the law, were subjected to special lower taxes, and commanded resources well beyond the capability of individual mortals. Corporations could turn their vast financial powers against smaller and vulnerable individual business people. Corporations were so hated that Mary Shelley wrote a book about them. It was called Frankenstein.
An animated soulless corpse mindlessly destroying the countryside was indeed an apt simile to describe the corporations. The fledgling United States soon found them to be the greatest enemy of individual freedom and a healthy economy ever faced. President Jackson was forced to impose laws to prevent corporations from price fixing, salary fixing, and destroying competition. The corporations responded by trying to have Jackson impeached and removed from office for accepting a hogshead of cheese. They failed and the rest of the history of the United States can be seen as the federal government protecting the freedoms of its citizens from the depredations of the corporations.
The early 20th Century saw the next phase of the corporate attack on human rights and freedoms. It was called Fascism. Fascism is a system of government where the natural resources and production strength of a nation is held in trust for the corporations. Mussolini coined the phrase fascism because his friends did not like his original name for the philosophy: Corporationism. In Fascism the government removes all laws regulating the behavior of corporations, while maintaining the laws which protect corporations from individuals. For instance, in Nazi Germany, the Volkswagen corporation was privately held but was subsidized by German tax money. All corporations enjoyed the same rights to the point where there was no real competition in Germany and the corporations were dictating policy to Hitler and the Reichstags. The fact is that Germany fell long before the allies invaded Berlin, the corporations ate Germany like a cancer.
Indeed, we frequently go through periods when the corporations destroy us like a plague of locusts. The last time resulted in the crash of 1929. This time we are going through a series of crashes which are doing more long term damage to our economy than corporations have ever done before These crashes are not prevented because we have our own fascist movement which is very active in the United States today. It is misnamed The Libertarian Party and it is working hand in hand with the neocons to deprive us all of our rights and our freedoms.
Over the next two weeks I will be examining the Libertarian party in light of the 14 points of fascism. I will show how the Libertarians are pursuing the same goals and intentions of the Nazi party and how they are using the same propaganda and misdirection that the Nazis used to take power. I do so in hopes that people will see through the lies of the Libertarian corporate lap-dogs and in hopes that the citizens of the United States will take back their government before it is too late.