Monday, April 05, 2004

Chomsky mentions in this article that "Marginalization of the superfluous population takes many forms. Some of these were the topic of a recent Business Week cover story entitled “Why Service Stinks” (Octember 23). It reviewed refinements in implementing the 80-20 rule taught in business schools: 20 percent of your customers provide 80 percent of the profits, and you may be better off without the rest. The “new consumer apartheid” relies on modern information technology (in large measure a gift from an unwitting public) to allow corporations to provide grand services to profitable customers, and to deliberately offer skimpy services to the rest, whose inquiries or complaints can be safely ignored. The experience is familiar, and carries severe costs—how great when distributed over a large population, we don't know, because they are not included among the highly ideological measures of economic performance. Incarceration might be regarded as an extreme version, for the least worthy."

I think the article is interesting because it goes against one of the big myths of capitalism, namely that capitalism is what is best for us because the drive for profits translates into greater efficiencies which are supposed to benefit all of us. From the article, "... most consumers feel they're getting squeezed by Corporate America's push for profits and productivity. The result is more efficiencies for companies--and more frustration for their less valuable customers."

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