The Revolution will not Enjoy Corporate Sponsorship

The Revolution  absolutely will not be brought to you by Absolut

The Revolution will not give the leaders of the revolution passes to fly on American Airlines as long as they wear a corporate pin

Working Assets may fund a lobbyist to kiss up to some congress person but it will it put some one on a picket line?

Wearing a rainbow pin while waving a rainbow flag sucking down the beer that is sponsoring this years Pride Festival will give you neither freedom nor Pride

Do you really think corporations will sponsor workers rights to a fair share?

A living wage?

Or will they maybe try to buy you off  by helping you focus all your energy on getting a bill passed that will help you enjoy equal access to being a 9.00 dollar an hour barista with a college degree.  A job where you get to pee in the bottle for the manager of the Starbucks that under pays you and over works you.  You know the one that came in and drove the neat funky coffee house where they had poetry readings out of business.

I may be wrong but I sure wouldn’t count on Starbucks sponsoring the revolution.  Because when push come to shove Starbucks is just another Walmart.

Corporations will not sponsor your fight to end NAFTA/CAFTA/GATT or the off shoring of all the jobs that paid a decent wage.

I’ll tell you an open secret about corporation… The only purpose of a corporation is to make a profit for their executives and shareholders.  The corporations do not give a flying fuck about your gender identity or your sexuality.

They will throw you under the bus if some Christer doesn’t like your looks and complains.  If you are not in a union and have the misfortune to live in a so called “right to work” state they do not need a reason to fire you and see to it you do not get un-employment.  And ENDA won’t do a damned thing about that.  If you think otherwise look at the rate of un-employment for people of color.

Corporations do not have your best interests at heart.  You are a human resource to be used to increase the one thing that a corporation exists for, the bottom line.  They care only about money.

When they say something different they are lying.

There will be a revolution when and only when people stop arguing over bull shit like identity and unite to say they are tired of being collectively fuck by corporations that don’t give a rats ass about their lives.

The revolution will start when people start saying no to advertising.  When people stop buying stuff they don’t need but are brainwashed into wanting.  Or if they do buy it they pay cash and say no to paying the banks usurious piles of interest charged for using credit cards.

Because the only real value we have to the rich, to the corporations is  in buying, consuming, endlessly…

If we picked just one or two corporations at a time and stopped buying from them until they start treating workers with respect, permitting unions, paying a living wage etc…  That would be revolutionary and I guarantee that revolution will not have corporate sponsorship.

Posted in Anarchism, Civil Rights, Class War, Economic Issues, Employment, ENDA, Frugal Living, Human Rights, Labor, Police State, Social Justice, Unions. Comments Off on The Revolution will not Enjoy Corporate Sponsorship

New Feature: Survival Hints

I wear whole lots of different hats which is one major reason I feel extremely constrained by identity politics.  None of the neat identity packages really fit.

Over my life time I’ve picked up whole bunches of skills from cooking and sewing to page layout and computer construction.

Many people whose lives have been impacted by trans-prefixed words are facing hard times economically.  Un-employment and under-employment particularly if one is older or not so passable are  real facts of life.

Identity be damned though… It isn’t just being trans ******… Many other formerly middle class people are facing the same problems thanks to Extremist Capitalism and the Free Market waging class war on the working classes.

Hence… The new column “Survival Hints”…  I want this to be a co-operative effort…  Especially on the part of people outside the US.  There is an e-mail address for this blog suzan.wbt@gmail.com I’ll run articles submitted by others that address this topic.  Some suggested topics might include negotiating Name Changes, free or low cost medical care etc. Others could include tips on turning various skills into income producing endeavors that do not require conforming to some sort of corporate standards.

If you have a blog and have posted articles on these themes this is an opportunity for links and a link back to your blog or website.

Today I am featuring an article I found on Alternet.  It particularly hit home as I have spent a great deal of money on glasses this year that I am not all that happy with.

The following is reposted with the permission of Anneli Rufus.

She has written several interesting appearing books and has the following sites:

http://www.annelirufus.com/

http://scavenging.wordpress.com/

Wow — the Eyewear Industry Is an Incredible Ripoff, But There Are Alternatives

By Anneli Rufus, AlterNet
Posted on August 31, 2010, Printed on August 31, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/148024/

Those of us who need prescription eyewear need prescription eyewear. Are you wearing yours to read this? Imagine if you weren’t. Imagine life without your glasses for a year, a week, an hour. Yet many health insurance plans, especially for the unemployed or self-employed, don’t cover them.

Mine doesn’t.

Last year, I went shopping for no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames. Name brands mean nothing to me. Price does. My high astigmatism and need for bifocals disqualify me from those buy-one-get-one-free deals, which almost always involve only single-vision specs.

In store after store, megachains and optical boutiques alike, small oval metal frames fitted with lenses matching my prescription started at $300. One popular shop quoted me $582 for the lenses alone.

I bought a pair of no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames for $44 online. I’m wearing them right now.

Perhaps because prescription glasses are where medicine meets fashion, they’re among the world’s most overpriced merchandise. Imperfect eyesight isn’t your fault: You can’t make yourself nearsighted by eating too much fudge. Yet if your health plan excludes vision care, you’ve spent years at the mercy of a $64 billion industry characterized by 500-percent markups.

This has begun to change over the last few years. A knowledge-is-power, power-to-the-people, Web-driven DIY wave is rocking the optical industry’s very foundations. Dozens of companies now sell prescription glasses online, frames and lenses included, for as little as $7.95.

It works like this: Google “cheap glasses” to find a frame you like at a price you like at a site you like. (Among the most popular are 39DollarGlasses, ZenniOptical — where I bought mine — and Goggles4U.) Use the virtual fitting mechanism to “try it on.” Type in your prescription (obtained from an actual eye doctor), pupillary distance (aka PD, derived by measuring the space between your pupils with a ruler), address and payment information. Send.

It’s a virtual myopian/hyperopian/presbyopian Tea Party, led largely by Minnesota software engineer Ira Mitchell, who launched his revolutionary GlassyEyes blog (its motto is “Saving the World from Overpriced Glasses!”) in 2006. Packed with forums, product reviews, discount deals, and tips for buying specs online, it’s the vision-impaired version of Yelp.

“There is no appreciable functional or material difference” between prescription eyewear bought online and bought in brick-and-mortar stores, Mitchell tells me, but in stores “the cost to the consumer is anywhere from four to ten times more. It turns out that they’re making ridiculous margins on the frames, the lenses and the coatings.”

Complete with antiscratch coatings and other pluses, his own glasses cost between $30 and $60 per pair online. Over the last three years, he’s bought around 40 pair — because, at that price, he can.

Mitchell was appalled when he first began researching wholesale prices for optical merchandise and realized that opticians acquire lenses for as little as $3 each. “I’ve easily paid twenty times that when I didn’t know any better,” he says.

Granted, these glass, plastic, polycarbonate or polymer blanks must be ground to fit frames and prescriptions, and this takes work, but it’s not rocket science. Typically, lens grinding is done by optical laboratory technicians. According to PayScale.com, OLTs in the United States earn between $9.73 and $14.40 per hour. Most learn on the job, and have only a high-school diploma or a GED. No specific certification is required.

The fleecing, Mitchell says, is just as bad on frames.

“A consumer-level frame costs significantly less than $10 to manufacture. The rest is operations, licensing and profit. Think about that the next time you pick up an average $150 frame. These aren’t markedly different or superior to the $30 glasses available from reputable online dealers — and those include lenses, probably the same ones you were just about to pay $200 for in the store.”

A key to the industry-standard overpricing is the fact that a single corporation — Luxottica, the world’s largest eyewear firm — owns many retail eyewear chains and many popular eyewear brands. Based in Milan, Italy, Luxottica owns and operates LensCrafters, Sears Optical, Target Optical, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Ilori, and other chains in the United States, along with yet more chains throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, India, the Antipodes and the Middle East.

Luxottica owns Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Vogue, and other brands, and makes glasses under license for over a dozen designer labels including Versace, Prada, Bulgari, DKNY, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Tiffany, and more. As if that isn’t enough, Luxottica is also the parent company of a vision-care benefits program, EyeMed.

Eyewear prices in brick-and-mortar stores stay artificially high, Mitchell says, due to “the lack of real competition, inasmuch as Luxottica owns massive manufacturing, licensing, retailing and insurance interests” — albeit EyeMed is “not so much insurance as a marketing ploy to get people to buy from their stores at a discount and to force the remaining independent stores to buy Luxottica controlled frames. But, again, most people are unaware of this.”

Because one company holds a near-monopoly on brick-and-mortar eyewear stores, “pricing models are somewhat static across the lot of them. They also have a knack for using the mattress sale model … constantly running sales that seem too good to pass up when in reality they’re still making enormous profits.”

“Semi-Annual 50% Off Sales Event,” reads a current LensCrafters ad. But the frames in question range from around $100 to around $300, and that’s without lenses.

“People pay what the brick-and-mortars are asking, primarily because the vast majority don’t know there are better, cheaper options,” Mitchell says.

As with any purchase — in fact more than with most purchases, as this involves eyesight — it pays to research each company’s delivery and return policies, Better Business Bureau status, and accessibility. Does its Web site list a phone number? If not, why not? If so, call it. Can you reach live people? Are they knowledgeable about your prescription? Does the company have its own in-house optometrists? It should. If you care about brand names, can you ascertain that the logo-bearing frames sold by any given company aren’t counterfeits? Factories churn out fakes.

While many online outfits sell real and bogus designer frames, the least expensive frames available online are unapologetically nameless generics: current and classic styles, sans logo. As is true with most consumer products, they’re not necessarily worse than their name-brand counterparts. After a year-plus of daily use, my $44 generics still look new. (That being said, I should have paid a few dollars more for higher-quality polycarbonate lenses and I should have sought bifocals with a wider middle-vision band, but these errors were my own, not the company’s.)

“Very high-priced frames may have somewhat better materials,” Mitchell says, “but from my experience, the no-names have been very well made.” Having owned dozens of generic pairs, he’s experienced “no more issues with them than with the name brands from LensCrafters. I think they’re pretty much on par.”

These days, he notes, “there are a lot more online retailers now than at the end of 2006. There aren’t a whole lot more reputable ones, however. I’ve shopped at over a dozen, and narrowed things down to about three or four that I feel comfortable recommending to others. As this is a fully custom market, mistakes can enter the process anywhere from the initial customer entering prescription information to the production process. I’ve found that a few of the sites do a better job than others at fixing mistakes. Some do better at this than the traditional stores.

“Prices haven’t dropped at all in the traditional brick-and-mortars, but downward price pressure from Wal-Mart will undoubtedly start to make an impact in certain parts of the country. I saw a sign in a
Wal-Mart recently for $38 glasses. The selection was tiny, but we’re starting to see a price intersection.”

The first online eyeglasses company was Houston-based FramesDirect. In 1992, optometrists Dhavid Cooper and Guy Hodgson closed their several Texas brick-and-mortar shops, then pondered their future.

“We knew that we wanted to sell eyewear in all fifty states 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Hodgson says. “We had no idea how to do this.” Renting a small office, they installed computers.

“When you talked about the Internet in those days, no one knew what you meant. Search engines were in their absolute infancy. We thought a 56k modem was blisteringly fast.”

Cooper had won a Surgeon General’s Commendation Award in his native South Africa for creating a program providing the poor with recycled glasses for free. Hodgson specialized in treating the nearly blind. Barely fluent in email, the pair created a basic Web site, offering designer glasses at low prices because, unlike brick-and-mortar opticians, they needed to pay neither storefront rent nor employees’ salaries, nor did they need to keep large quantities of merchandise in stock.

“Everyone around us thought we were completely mad: Eye doctors, giving up their lucrative practices to go into this weird thing,” Hodgson laughs. But once orders started pouring in, “The whole optical industry completely shunned us. They said we were ruining them.”

At eyewear conventions, he and Cooper wore their nametags backward to avoid verbal abuse. Since then, dozens of imitators have emerged, many based overseas and most able to offer even lower prices because they sell generics. Buying prescription eyewear is like buying prescription drugs: It’s cheaper online. It’s cheaper when it comes from outside the U.S. GlassesUnlimited, for instance, can afford to sell hundreds of different stylish frames fitted with prescription lenses for only $9.99 because its entire operation is based in Thailand.

“We don’t have big margins here. That’s how we are serving our clientele. That’s why we’re getting hundreds of orders on a daily basis, 70 percent of which come from the U.S. and Canada,” GU manager Sam Davis tells me. “We have virtually no expenses. We have our own home brand and do our own production. We don’t outsource anything.”

Based in the U.S., FramesDirect still undercuts retail-store prices for guaranteed designer goods.

“What we sell and what the brick-and-mortar stores sell are the exact same products,” Guy Hodgson says. “How can they afford to charge the prices they charge?”

Anneli Rufus is the author of several books, most recently The Scavenger’s Manifesto (Tarcher Press, 2009). Read more of Anneli’s writings on scavenging at scavenging.wordpress.com.

Posted in Economic Issues, Frugal Living, Hard Times. Comments Off on New Feature: Survival Hints