by María L. Trigos-Gilbert

Mercy, mercy! How many brochures do you get in your e-mail box and traditional mail box? You know, the kind that you have to get out of your house in order to get and check your mail. Math doesn’t help in this situation since this is an infinite number! Take note: Infinite + infinite = Waste of time. Where are all of the people that we know like friends and family? All we get is a giant pile of UNDELIVERED e-mail and paper mail, and from that pile a friend or a nice invitation may pop.

Oh, so much thanks, Lord. This friend, family, or nice invitation isn’t after our money, but after us—after our human part which ironically these NOWADAYS businesses seem to forget more than once. Take it: It’s FREE! Okay, I’m naïve. I have believed that free means zero charge, zero payment. Imagine telling a friend, a family member, or at worst a stranger something like the following: Do you want it? It’s free. He or she answers you, “yes. Thanks.” After you have explained all the marvelous amenities, you conclude by saying that it costs $ (you name the amount). If this person tells us, “Hey, that’s cheating. You said, ‘free’. Have you lost your mind or what?” This person is right! That’s cheating like “polite” jerk.

One Whole Mafia
Since I may be naïve, let’s see what the Random House Webster’s Dictionary has to say. Free: Number eight definition says, “PROVIDED WITHOUT A CHARGE.” Number eleven says, “GENEROUS OR LAVISH AS IN GIVING.” Number 14 defines it like this, “AT NO COST OR CHARGE.” Aren’t these businesses missing the most obvious side, “provided without a charge?” Certainly we are too smart to believe that in our electronic or tangible mail box people have written us an impersonal letter to tell us, “Look what I got for you without any cost at all!” Come on. We weren’t born last night, maybe one night but not last night. Without any constraint businesses are submitting their GARBAGE to us at all times. This should be prohibited, even more when they are deceiving us having pretty much an ethical egoism.

We have gotten so much junk over the years in both of our mail boxes that we don’t even bother to open them any more. A) Virtually we trash them out, e-mail box. B) Tangibly we tear them into tiny pieces. With pretty good reasons we do what we must, to get rid of all of them without giving a second thought. No wonder! It’s easier to SAY NO, as if we were talking about drug dealers, than to escape these unsolicited invitations to join their frozen world. The United States’ Constitution supports their citizens’ right to happiness. Nonetheless, anyone’s right to happiness stops—expires, is finished—when this person steps on someone else’s toes as it happens when one breaks the law. That’s the bottom line. In total, the United States’ Constitution is full of rights, but if a third party’s right is in jeopardy because of our rights, the law has to satisfy our rights as well as it does with those unwanted dealers of all kinds. I’m not talking about drug dealers, though these “business people” seem to match the profile quite well.

Fiduciary Responsibility?
There are many kinds of wake up calls like the 1980s fiduciary dilemma that the North American people got during those “hard” times. They found out that companies changed their managers fiduciary duties. Let’s examine this a bit closer by determining the 1960s vs. the 1980s. During the 1960s companies were tremendously concerned to provide good service and good products for their customers, employees, and their community as a whole. The only dilemma was how to stay in business if the outcome wasn’t so profitable in the short run. This short run meant the daily balancing of the budget. So they tended to look on the long run rather than the short run since it could be depressing, financially and morally.

The long run made them think that this was going to be better for everybody, for the insiders like stockbrokers and the outsiders like stockholders besides plain customers. Everybody had to have a fair shot, directly or indirectly. Yet the real dilemma was still pending: “What are we going to do in order to stay in business and do well during high and low waves?” One thing they understood: It was like an “impossible” mission, to protect the investors, the consumers, and the community. Everything seemed to get thinner by the second. During the 1960s a lot of those businessmen remembered quite well the 1930s depression. It didn’t go well to even consider getting into another financial instability. So they had to act and act ASAP. They did so, but some of them cheated on us—in order to stay in business.

Hypothesis for Downfall
It certainly was pretty difficult to keep up such a fiduciary responsibility system where everybody had to be and to stay happy at all times. It was like living in “Alice in Wonderland,” an impossible financial task. Why or how did it fall? The very first fact was the matter that the numbers didn’t add as well as it was expected it to be. Someone or something had to give up something.

The least of all problems was power, though money in itself represented and has been some sort of sociopolitical strength, though has never been capable of buying one’s soul which has always been beyond the point of such pretension. Financial stability was indeed the must exhausting of all endeavors which was the primary premise to conclude any kind of argumentative possibility to any given solution. Let’s not forget that something or someone has to give up something. The easiest thing was to give us up, to give up the respect for ethical decisions to our society.

Ronald Reagan
During the 1980s, president Ronald Regan thought that military reconstruction was more necessary than any marvelous socioeconomic package for his grand North American society. His reasons were pretty much oriented to problems with one of the strongest USA enemies, the nowadays forgotten Soviet Union — the one that became our today’s Russia. The USA’s debt increased by the second, one of the products of Mr. Ronald Regan’s misconception, though to a certain extend well founded. Russia has never been one of USA’s fans, almost needless to make the point, though let’s not forget! There was a “minor” economic depression during those 1980s.

During those days the only hope in North America was to let him finish his first term and then to elect a Democrat president. Alas, Ronald Regan was reelected. The USA’s financial stability was guided by our symbol of Justice: Blindfolded and unbalanced and pretending to be impartial. So everyone’s financial matters were super foggy. Major and minor companies started to change their policies by providing less benefits to their employees and less worrisome toward their society’s needs and expectations. The Fiduciary Responsibility System of the 1980s had began its growth; all its gears pointed forward, not a sign of reverse even if it meant a short revision to what this new method offered like the most obvious solution.

The North American mentality has always been to graduate from high school and college. Then one must seek a good job, and the job will take care of the rest. Nevertheless, during the 1980s this became a real issue; education was more important than ever before. Now, it wasn’t enough to have a good job since companies weren’t taking care of their employees as they had been doing. Companies’ policies changed.

This time the employee didn’t have too much of opportunity or voiced vote. People started to get more interested in getting an education since it seemed like their only solution. With a good education they thought that their demands were going to be well founded since they had worked themselves to death for a piece of paper that mentioned their expertise in a particular field.

The situation didn’t change during the 1990s; people were still thinking that education meant freedom from business’ oppressions. Yet companies started to get trickier because some of them started to hire part time workers in order to avoid any kind of compensation for the workers. Speed became a threat. This time computers, though made to help, increased employees’ responsibilities, not only at work but even at home. Whatever couldn’t get done at work because of lack of time, the employees had a chance to fax the paperwork, or send it via e-mail. Beepers and cellular phones increased communication. Employees didn’t have to be present in a meeting in order to revise something or submit their reports.

We must admit that the situation is still pretty much like in the 1990s. We have a lot of tech-toys which supposedly save us sometime. Yet the less we have is time. It isn’t because days’ hours have been reduced by an invisible hand, but because we have exchanged quality for quantity! Quantity has threaten the most inner part of all individuals. If one isn’t a multitask oriented person, 99.4 percent tells me that this person will not any particular job in his or her field. Just a short glance at the USA’s newspapers reassures me what I’m writing at this very moment. It is nice when one can manage different task at the same time, but to get overloaded is ridiculous and impractical—mighty unrealistic. Parents have exchanged roles, nothing wrong with that. The only “small” detail is the fact that when kids arrive … tthey don’t know who or how one of them is going to stay at home since all what they produce goes to pay the bills.

People may criticize the North American life as if here people overindulge themselves too much. Well, this may be true. On the other hand, we cannot pretend that we live in Haiti or any other needy country. We have what we have and that’s a lot. If by any chance anyone can sympathize with us, the USA residents and citizens, one must understand that this country has as many problems as it has wealth.

Of course, the USA’s problems seem so little and frivolous in comparison to some of the problems around the world. Many people in the USA find themselves jobless, though having a job just because the fiduciary responsibility was shifted almost twenty years ago by those unknown business men. We wouldn’t be surprised if we find out that this country belongs to one person. Yes, that’s being drastic, but that’s being bold. Whenever I have visited small towns, I have found out that hundreds and thousands. Take note: Hundreds and thousands of lands belong to one person that may or may not live in that town. Some of them have inherited those lands; some others have worked quite a lot in order to have those numerous acres. At times the only thing they are producing is thorns, nothing productive. Some other times they produce different products like potato, cotton, corn, green bean, tomato and a giant ETC.

Farmers struggle as much as those people in the big cities. Everybody seem to be struggling quite a lot. Of course, we are quite CONFUSED because newspapers insist in writing a bunch of useless information. Some newspapers have vaccinated themselves against such kind of reports because they are quite aware of the real situation. “We are doing well. We have had a terrific economy. We are a blessed country. We are the most powerful nation of the world. We … We … We …” Whoever, whether Bush or Gore, has the courage to go and tell all those things to the poor and to the distressed middle class, shall be given a trophy. Their testosterone production as well as their gray matter would have to be massive in order to hear what the people have to say. Believe me when I tell you that the people, the American people, have a lot to say. Would they be willing to hear? Let’s rephrase the question: Would they be willing to do something about any and all of the issues that affect directly North America as well as the world?

Caution: When asked about these presidential candidates’ willingness to act more and talk less, whether for and in North America and the world, I’m not talking about invading any particular country. To give help to any particular country doesn’t mean invasion. It doesn’t mean to let the world know who, what, or how is power distributed. People of all nations have the right to decide their own destine! Let’s ALWAYS keep that in mind, even more let’s practice what we preach, democracy. Imposition isn’t a smart strategy or weapon. The real “weapon” is sympathy, to have a good attitude whenever anyone needs help. There is a catch: For that to happen we must be UNSELFISH. Otherwise, this will never ever take place.

What about Equal Opportunity?
What does it really mean? I was taught that everybody has the right to get any particular job as long as he or she satisfies the given standards. At times we wonder so much that we doubt about this equal opportunity deal. So that’s the other side of the coin. Companies have found themselves almost crippled by the many given laws by the different departments or ministries of the government. Perhaps—maybe only many—they want to do what’s right, but the many imposed laws make it so difficult for them to function that some of them go out of business or down the tubes due to the numberless difficulties that they encounter everyday in and everyday out.

The only solution is to give what’s right for all employees. Companies, corporations, and even small businesses have to give better employees packages. In the end, if they give better benefits, better working environment, and reasonable package of tasks—they will benefit more than in present time. Because if they care for their employees, these workers will be a lot more faithful and certainly more productive.

Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal
I can’t help but to remember “A Modest Proposal” written by Jonathan Swift. So what shall we do? Should we start a baby butchery in each the USA states? That should prevent hunger, will give us an opportunity to taste tender meat at all times, whether baked, roasted, fried, or boiled. Yes, a one year old child would make a delicious meal in the houses of the big corporation owners. Imagine: instead of having an abortion, getting something out of nothing—a child that could be one more among the poor, could at last enter the rich people’s world, even if just to become a dish for these privilege ladies and lords.

The whole USA would look more prosperous than ever, within a considerable time poor people would be out of existence. So the beauty of each USA town and city will be shinning. There won’t be more threatening nights. There won’t be any more complains about how badly taxed we have been, and there won’t be any more Welfare battles. So far so good.

If you are sick by now, you should be. So that’s a good sign. That tells us that we aren’t as sick as some of these giant corporations are. We are on the right side when we claim and proclaim our rights, the right for dignity, respect. We must not get confused by these so called good news: “We are doing fine and couldn’t be doing better.”

If we are doing so well, how come in the USA are so many needy people? If we are doing so well, how come corporations seem to forget or overlook the most important moral standards when deciding upon ethical issues? I have as many answers, but the most important thing to remember is that we are part of North American. We are the ones that keep them going. Without us their existence would be meaningless, right on track!

On the other hand, let’s not forget that many big companies are trying mighty hard to give what’s right for their employees and communities. Yes, they are a small number, but they are still alive, though with a lot of difficulty, since nowadays it isn’t just how good the product is, but how cheap it can be made even if it costs the lives of many people. I’m not trying to tell you that all is bad. This country has many beautiful things and marvelous people, and because of those positive things and people we must stay attentive and sensitive to each and all of the issues.