Comcast, corporatism, tech support and lies

published Oct 29, 2007, last modified Jul 26, 2015

Word got out that people working at the tech support division in Comcast will be required to lie as part of their job description. Yes, required to lie.

How is this even possible? you may ask yourself. Here's how. A few days ago, I talked about fascism and corporatism (both are the same -- link in Spanish). To summarize what I said, I arrived at the very same conclusion Mussolini (I think) arrived: fascism is the marriage between the State and the Corporation. This led to the ultimate conclusion that, when corporations have too much power and control too many people, it's rather easy for them to turn people into both apathetic, obedient beings, and frenzied lawbreakers.

Moral values are the same. Their consequences are not.

Moral values are relative. There is no question about that, even though it may outrage you to think of them as being relative. So bear with me for a second: the thing about moral values being relative is that values relate to each other by the outcome they produce when taken and executed as choices. Different moral values do have different moral outcomes.

Example: If I tell you to take two Gingko Biloba capsules daily, making a faint promise that it will improve your AIDS, I'm making you risk the moral hazard of not taking HAART therapy. Not everyone is stupid enough to believe that outrageous claim, but some people are. I had a schoolteacher who had his father take "Cat's Nail" and "Shark Fin" pills in lieu of cancer treatment. His father is now six feet under. My teacher was a nice enough person who had good intentions. The bastards that sold those pills gave him false hope (just the kind that tends to stick to you in desperate situations).

And the sea of lies we're all drowning in now is not a coincidence, but rather a logical and purposeful outcome of decades of degeneration. Corruption thrives on the belief that all moral choices are the same:

  • "Consume" is the new "save".
  • "Pretty" is the new "healthy".
  • "Artificial" is the new "natural".
  • "Rich and famous" is the new "good".
Well, don't these rather sarcastic statements remind you of some TV commercials you may have watched? Because if they do, I present to you the newest and freshest statement:

"Lie" is the new "truth". Consequences? Public trust is destroyed, corporatism thrives

That's right. When lies and truths are regarded as equally good, things like the Comcast rep script start to happen.

(Not just) tech support people have been lying through their teeth and concealing vital information . What I would like to draw your attention to, is that today lying is not only widespread, but it has been crowned, institutionalized and turned into a de facto legit mechanism to doing business.

The ultimate goal? To destroy people's ability to make sound judgments and to establish trust relationships. When you don't know whom to trust, you end up being a fantastically compliant and gullible customer. Those microscopic minorities that refuse to swallow the script don't need service after all.

Corporations win. You get the shaft. Do you want an example? How about Comcast! Now Comcast is:

  1. Crippling people's Internet service for corporate gain.
  2. Lying about its practices.
  3. Having their tech reps lie to their own customers.

Solutions to the Comcast issue that will never work

Let's revise three useless ideas people usually throw around when a Comcast happens:

  • Voting with your wallet. It's not working. I don't see a massive exodus from Comcast's fold. That's pretty much how things are going to stay, given that the ISP market is not a free one.
  • Voting at the ballot box. Doesn't work. Those we voted for ended up serving not us, but the Comcasts and AT&Ts of the world.
  • Regulation. Works until killed by the very same entities under regulation. Those we voted for made damn well sure regulation didn't.
Special interests are extremely hard to defeat, because once they exist, they've already won. The only way special interests can be defeated is if they're never allowed to exist in the first place. My hypothesis is that a truly free market with many incumbents would be completely free of these issues -- simply because it's harder to command a sizable amount of power with impunity when you aren't that big.

But if something is to be regulated, it's not the size of the incumbents directly, but rather the conditions of the market. People must strive to create a market as unregulated as possible that rewards success, but penalizes monopoly -- not through antitrust mechanisms (those are usually too little, too late -- remember Ma Bell then and now?). Again: don't punish size -- make a market so that growing big is doable, but growing obscenely huge is impossible. Artificial ponds need intervention -- why do people think that man-made markets don't?

Of course, if the justice system worked faster, it would be much more viable to present the facts to a knowledgeable judge, and apply the corporate death penalty to Comcast. But then again, Big Business has ways to make complaints disappear.

Your defense against cockmongling liars

Believe it or not, there's a rather easy way to restore trust and truth in your life. 99% of the time, all you need to do is keep this maxim in your head at all times: if the other person did to me what I'm about to do to him, how would I feel? And remember to never shut up when you've been wronged.

Gents, if you want to hear my advice (hard to stomach as it may be), here it is: if you have any self-respect, please abandon the tech support line of work. The pay is lousy. It's a dead-end for your career. And, sooner or later, you will be required to stab people in the back routinely -- unless you're willing to troll trashcans for food.

House is right when he says everybody lies. But it's our failure when we let scumbags go unscathed.