Slightly Off-Topic

Really Dim (Sum) Shadies

By DOM Team| 4 Min Read | October 10, 2007

What is it with Lou Dobbs?

If I’ve heard him whine about illegal immigrants and Chinese outsourcing once, I’ve heard him whine a thousand times. His current (and other ‘commenters’) crispy-shredded beef with China’s non-existent quality control borders on the hysterical.

I’m almost starting to believe that there are secret slips written in Chinese compelling children to ingest their lead-fueled and carcinogenic Barbie Dolls in some dastardly plot to retardate or kill off America’s future. And now the evil swines are trying to nobble us all via toxic apple juice.

I’m expecting exploding Chinese-made Twinkies any day soon.

But they’re managing to spin along the lines that America has been blind-sided. Companies like Mattel had no idea how deadly their toys were going to be – after all, it’s all Chinese to them. However, had these toys been made at a plant in the US then Mattel would’ve been entirely culpable. What difference does it make whether your production is in Shaghai or Chicago (other than the fact that production and labor costs are devastatingly cheaper in Shanghai).

Britain added the great on the backend of its empire building. And its empire was built on the industrial revolution. And the industrial revolution was built on working practices that Mr. Burns would consider harsh until certain movements saw otherwise.

But, there’s a problem with the less caring form of capitalism in that it can’t help but go back to its default setting and its roots. It’s a sucker for ensuring low wages, long hours and exploitation. It doesn’t want to make money with incredible products or fabulous ideas but simply by squeezing margins and turning a blind eye to health and safety because it just gets in the way.

The trade union movement, factory acts and education acts in the mid-1800s weren’t lame ideas dreamt up by liberal idealists. Some people thought civic responsibility in the workplace and teaching children something other than a thirteen hour day before their teens a progressive concept.

And that’s what brought about the co-operative movement in 1844, not a stone’s throw away from where I was born and raised. The co-operative mission statement at the time read something like this:

They had decided it was time shoppers were treated with honesty, openess and respect, that they should be able to share in the profits that their custom contributed to and that they should have a democratic right to have a say in the business. Every customer of the shop became a member and so had a true stake in the business.

This way of doing business was revolutionary. These businessmen didn’t adulterate products, putting leaves in tea or chalk in flour. They didn’t simply see customers as the way to make a profit at the expense of others.

As we saw during the industrial revolution, so we now see during the internet revolution.

There are aspects of marketing your business online that allow for honest brokerage, such as blogging. The fact that any company can open their corporate soul and converse openly and directly to customers easily and at reasonable cost is revolutionary in itself.

However, I’m still amazed – although I probably shouldn’t be – how many shysters, cads and bounders there are in this Internet revolution. The number of dubious contracts I’ve seen that tie clients to their Webhosts, design firms and PPC management contractors would surely make the devil blush – erm, not that you’d exactly notice!

I remember one lady when I was in the UK who entertained the thought of starting a blog being told by her designer/host that he wasn’t prepared to install one and that only he could upload any pages to the site at $30 a time. When I confronted him about it it was apparent he had only the vaguest idea about blogs and wasn’t prepared to shift from his original stance. Let’s just say some choice words were used from my end.

You can’t blame the client. They want a Web presence, and if you don’t know what you’re talking about you’re a potential target. Just like I’m a target with unscrupulous car mechanics!

Web marketing is still in its infancy and so reputations might not be what they are in more established industries. Therefore, it should be up to certain members within it that have a conscience to try and ensure potential clients aren’t suffering from the online equivalent of shysters who would gladly put leaves in your tea or chalk in your flour.

And I shall now go for a lie down in a darkened room….

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