The recession of 2008-2009 cost us our individualism. Very few people ‘stand up for what’s right’ any longer over fear of a losing a job they likely already hate.
It’s mostly the people with nothing to lose who seem to be fighting for their rights.
Prior to the recession, middle-class Americans were more outspoken, living as individuals with unique opinions and strong values. That has all changed.
From 2008 to 2013 the number of foreclosures and bankruptcies reached a record high. Many two-income households lost at least one job. The spouse fortunate enough to retain their job during the crisis likely lost some of their income and/or benefits. Savings were depleted in many households.
Out of desperation, American workers culturally migrated from feeling empowered, unique, and important to being timid and compliant. As a result, many Americans have become collectivists.
Let’s first define collectivism: It’s the practice of giving a group priority over each individual in it. What this means is that whistleblowing, challenging authority, or pushing for higher standards has become taboo. This results in a vicious spiral, trapping even more people in this cultural evolution.
For instance, employees of major banks abuse customers, because they desperately feel they need to keep the job. This phenomenon explains how Wells Fargo was able to perpetrate a fraud on two million of its customers wherein they opened unauthorized accounts and slammed them with illegal fees. Over 5000 Wells employees were fired.
I believe the employees were used as ‘scapegoats’ for an egregious and collectivist culture created by the executives in Wells that ultimately put process and profit over people.
The incident involving a United Airlines passenger who was dragged off the plane after refusing to leave, Dr. David Dao, is a result of collectivism. United’s process was clearly more important than its customers. Instead of offering the maximum allowed incentive for customers to voluntarily deplane, the collectivists at United offered a smaller sum. When there were no takers, they proceeded like ‘robots’ to enforce their policies and throw customers off the plane. They did it without empathy, professionalism, or grace.
This is how collectivists behave. They lack the capacity to show empathy or grace because their only master is the process dictated by their group.
My Townhall.com Finance article, ‘The PayPal Monopoly’ is Crushing U.S. Small Businesses makes the point that large businesses in our nation are monopolizing and bullying our citizens. These businesses unilaterally force customers to comply with so many rules and procedures that the average citizen lacks the capacity to understand them. Naturally, these rules favor the business(es) and not the customer.
In the ‘PayPal’ article, I pointed to the sentiment that many people share: A comment on the site www.PayPalsucks.com says, “OMG do you hear yourself whining? Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to use PayPal.” This may be legally true, but many small businesses have no choice because of the collusion between PayPal and other sales sites.
I challenge this notion that no one forces us to use these larger businesses such as PayPal, United Airlines, Comcast, Wells Fargo or others that have been allowed to monopolize their industries.
In terms of banking, the five largest banks set the procedural standard for the entire industry; thus, we no longer have a choice between the competing terms and conditions of one institution over another. They are all virtually the same: anti-consumer.
United Airlines is the combination of three of the most notable players in aviation history: United, Pan Am and Continental. In addition, fourteen smaller airlines were purchased by United to form what it is today. Just twenty years ago, a situation like Dr. Dao had the potential of destroying a company like United.
Today, while a large public relations nightmare, this situation likely won’t even be worthy of being called a financial ‘speed-bump.’ No one at United will resign, no major change will occur, and passengers will face another circumstance in the future just as egregious. United’s ‘process over people’ will continue to thrive in our rapidly forming collectivist culture.
Collectivism can damage a society.
Collectivist cultures rank high in masculinity, ultimately reducing the role of women. In collectivist cultures, inequality of all minority people is a problem.
Collectivist mentality causes a struggle to tolerate risk or uncertainty in business and personal matters.
As a result, only a few individuals (or businesses) control the potential of the most people. Weaker classes of people are economically abused even more and there is very little regard for situations that don’t fall into typical ‘black-and-white,’ legalistic rules and regulations.
Allow me to describe the country that suffers from the foregoing vices. It’s a country where drug lords have gained control of elected officials, maintaining their massive crime-rings and ultimately creating oppression of people – not by the government but by lack of effective government. Many of these people are fleeing the country to seek refuge and opportunity in At the United States. They arrived here as collectivists, but with hope.
They arrive as ‘collectivists’ in the purest form and then struggle to succeed because of they fear being unique. Just like many compliant, American-born citizens who are afraid to lose their job, these people are also afraid. It most cases, it is safer for them to hide among the collectivists, instead of reaching for their potential, out fear of being detected and deported.
There are many countries that I could be describing: North Korea, China, India, etc.
I am referring to Mexico. That is what we’re becoming.
If more of our citizens don’t start holding our corrupt elected officials and egregious, big-business bullies accountable to serving us, our future is more bleak than bright.
We built this nation from the sweat and hard work of individuals with new ideas; not robotic collectivists apathetically going through the motion to collect a paycheck from a massive, politically-correct conglomerate.