Taking Control – Infringing Personal Space/Responsibility/Scope of Action
A broad topic; and a slight diversion from furthering our main themes about scams and their disservices Nonetheless, a very worthy topic; one which deserves a volume on its own; one which everyone has had some experiences with; let’s give an everyday example.
Contracts and Agreements
In a world so global, so anarchic in a chaotic sense; with so many players out there; and so many of them feared to be lowballers; these factors mean that agreements are in more demand than ever, even by small and maybe relatively insignificant transactors and their transactions.
In general, more and more, people are feeling safer behind an agreement; a sort of wedge or barrier is set up by a formal and signed document like this; distancing the relationship; setting it more-so in stone and thereby giving a perception that parties are able more easily to hold one another to account.
Of course, as ever, the law and recourse to law is for the rich folks, and we smaller fry settle just for a quarrel; the rich folks are the class of persons who resort to civil law actions, and they do so as much as a stonewalling and delaying tactic; semi temporarily, semi-permanently.
Charles Dickens, in his novel called Bleak House, writes about the British Court of Chancery as it was in his times in mid Victorian days. He satirises the lengthiness of the progress of civil cases there by citing a fictional case he names Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, a family squabble over a deceased person’s legacy, as to who should inherit it. The case is dragged on for generations of Jarndyces; and the inheritance money is consumed almost wholly by legal fees. No-one has won but the lawyers of Chancery.
Dickens satirises public administration of justice and of licensing etc by him creating The Circumlocution Office; a place where words go round and round redundantly and perpetually to no avail for anyone but the employees paid to produce them.
This tardiness of ‘swift’ justice taking donkey’s years to settle any big civil cases – it is taken full advantage of in our times by corporations who go to war with one another – so that these disputes in law become a status quo in themselves; and thereby they enforce a stalemate, usually one agreeable to both parties; and costing a fortune but yet often far cheaper for these corporations than any of them facing, say, losing a Brand name or a domain; or having to recall billions of items of product or else settling for a smaller reach and lesser grasp on the marketplace.
For the small person and for the big monolithic business alike, the comfort of legal words being in force, either in a courtroom or else via a signed agreement, is found to be in the struggle to gain control of things; so as to be more assured of being able to direct the future to the ends parties desire.
Everyone who risks money or commodities or resources for the sake of making profits always craves more certainty; and this craving pressures them ever more into becoming ever more control freaks. Some are not bad people; they just don’t like nerves that trusting to gentlefolk’s agreements jangle; those word of mouth ‘arrangements’ which turn perilous when civilities break down between clients and their customers. So we all go for more control – and so we go for agreements – which at least on paper – seem to offer just that.
The moving finger writes
And having writ moves on
And nought you do can yet retrieve but half a line
When it’s in black and white; problem solved.
Some of the people who use agreements are not so good people. They may be go-getters; riders roughshod over, grasping money aggregators; they all might have reasons for their predations perfectly justifiable in their own estimations; but their striving for control brings about strife and unbalanced inequities into play in their contractual agreements – they want more than control – they want dominion.
The chief victim is usually the small guy who is set in agreement with the big guy; the big guy having the services to offer which the small guy cannot do without for running her business.
In this category you find in your own daily lives:
- Mobile Phone Network Operators
- Internet Service Providers
- Insurance Companies
- Online Payment Transaction Services
- Gas, Electricity, and Water Companies
- Local Authorities
- Software (OS) companies
These are just a few examples off the top of my head.
None if any of us know what are the exact terms we have signed our souls away to in our agreeing terms and conditions with these monsters. We have a vague inkling, an instinct, which tells us that the odds in these agreements are stacked against us. The documents of these agreements are very often interminably long in length and tend to worry out the very last detail in an obsessive compulsive way. We just hit the checkbox and install.
Naively maybe we leave the regulation of such lengthy and complex contracts to Federal or to National Government; and so we look to the public administration to keep these gobbling giants in check. Thus we tend to blame governments when a giant corporation ‘gets away scot free’ with a lawful but unethical scam in its terms and conditions, over a course of many years and unimpeded. We could not be bothered to protect ourselves and then Big Brother has let us down and so we ignore the guilty party and thrash about ineffectually upon Big Brother – who sits back and in due course passes a regulation outlawing the once-lawful scam. This is how things tend to work.
There is inherent in the motto ‘business for business’ sake’ a certain predatory urge; normally an urge to obtain something pretty childish, such as having for oneself ‘the biggest piece of pie’, or else being ‘number one in the queue’; or else scaling an Everest of financial ascent ‘because it’s there’.
It’s a free-for-all to be top of the tree, top dog, king or queen of the castle. And that means in our society the assembling of others and the marshalling of them so that they work hard for you and get you where you want to be. So at bottom this kind of ‘success’ is about control and dominion over others; qualities which are the chief characteristics of what we call power.
Like Pavlov’s dogs, those who would be reigning monarchs of the world learn soon and by rote that the way to their dream is paved by those employees and other subjects whom they are able to coerce or persuade, force or chivvy, to spend all their efforts in getting them there. Almost immediately the first lesson such ambitious persons learn is that to win they have to dominate others.
Hence the aggressive stance of many large corporations, towards their own employees and especially towards their big shot rivals; and because the small person has no big guns of her own, particularly towards the small people by whose custom their marketplaces are measured and acknowledged.
Everyone has noticed how when you want to complain or to drop the services of a large company, that there seems to be so many obstacles placed in the way to your finding the right area or the appropriate information to be able to do it. Everybody has seen how the guy you are talking to about leaving is trying to sell you a ‘better deal’ rather than to lose your custom. And those @noreply.com emails one gets from these big companies, which inform you of your bills or of changes to your package, as it were unilaterally, and without any quick easy access to recourse to be had for yourself – these are very annoying.
The way that anything you might use unexpectedly and which is not in your particular package, is jumped upon instantly by these megalith’s billing departments and cashed in upon, as if an expensive coin had been found by them lying around on the roadside, and which they have quickly picked up and pocketed.
Dialling an 07845 number? Aha! That’s a premium code – slap 50 cents a minute on that call!
Access that TV Channel or stream that movie – aha! That’s not on the freebie lists – $10 for that – put it on her bill!
It seems sometimes to be a game involving evasions and a keeping of an ever-vigilant dog-eye out for bear-traps and snake pits ready to ensnare you. Just like the guys on eBay who never give a full image view of what they have on offer; or do their very best to show it as much bigger or better than it really is: ‘caveat emptor’ says the law – ‘let the buyer beware’.
So everything becomes, is becoming a silly commercialised Game of Thrones, where treacheries are rewarded and arise as being par for the course – provided, that is, that the victims or their friends don’t catch up with you and act the part of vigilantes.
Our valours in these days are not measured by our bravery, our openness or our uprightness a persons, companies; it is awarded to those whose daily practice is a sly cleverness and an underhanded con-trickery, belonging to the smart guy who knows a bit too much. Net result, too many of us are trying to outdo too many others of us.
The paradigm for ‘success’ in these terms then, is in fact compiled of an array of traits which people once deprecated as being ‘bad form’ or else sometimes as being ‘dastardly’. The terms sound quaint because they are presently considered outmoded; and just the same are their significations as reprimands for bad behaviour outmoded; yet these are the same behaviours which were once labelled dastardly or bad form which are right now ‘cool’ and ‘ace’.
And so agreements are tending more and more to be worded in disingenuous ways so as deliberately to ‘stitch up’ any unsuspecting victims who out of a careless remiss decide to sign it. I have spent some considerable time reading through such agreements, in order to proof them or to explain or to comment on them to people.
The levels of chicanery and of sheer malicious trickery which many of the writers of these agreements get up to would shake any young idealistic person’s foundations to behold. I am experienced in and so inured somewhat to this nastiness, but nonetheless my reading through these documents is often an exercise in angry indignation which rages at how unfeelingly coercive and oppressive can be many so persons who see that they have a distinct advantage over another weaker person in a business relationship.
I pray that these people may live to find out and to mourn their own murky natures. Them being appalled, that they may recant and repent and attempt reparations for their having lusted with single-eyed focus on self and with their double-tongued approach having attempted a fly-trapping of others. Amen.