Last week I published a piece that was a pure rant. The Incredible Shrinking Food and Other Ways They’ve Got Their Hands in Our Wallets was a piece inspired by another rant by fellow AC Contributor Tony Payne. The article spoke of the many ways that corporations and governments contrive to get more money out of us from the things that we already do. Without changing any behaviors, we always seem to be shelling out more for the same, or even less.
At first I contemplated not publishing the piece. I know that ranting about something does nothing to solve a problem, but sometimes I’m just drawn to my computer, furiously typing away when I get fired up about something. A guest commenter on that piece said that I should stop whining, although he (or she) did agree with some of what I had to say. When I first read the comment, it caused a lot of thought on the subject of rants and whining. On one hand, I could understand the commenter’s point, but on the other, I just can’t sit idly by when I see things that are simply wrong or unfair.
After thinking about it for awhile, I’ve come to the conclusion that rants can be good for two reasons. For one thing, if the rant is about something that affects a lot of people, then many people will identify with it. That last rant definitely struck a chord with several people, as it garnered a lot of page views and a decent number of comments. The piece was hyperlinked on a blog and Facebooked by a fellow Acer. Opening up discussion on an issue is a good first step.
The second positive thing to come out of a rant is calling readers into action. This is where I’ve failed in the past. Simply complaining about a problem does nothing to solve it, but if you can offer solutions in addition to raising awareness to a wrong, then the rant is worthy of making.
In the spirit of this newfound revelation, I’d like to offer up a couple of solutions to some of the issues I mentioned in my previous rant:
The Incredible Shrinking Food
This one was the one complaint I had that almost everyone could identify with. Manufacturers of food products, and even non-grocery items, have clandestinely been raising their profit margins by shrinking not the packaging, but the food inside of it. A typical bag of shredded mozzarella cheese, for example, which was traditionally sold in 8-ounce packages is now commonly sold in 7oz. and sometimes even 6oz. bags, often at the same price as the larger item.
There are two solutions I can offer here:
1- Pay attention to the size labels on all packages of food items. If and when you notice that the manufacturers of these products have “shrunk” the sizes, then don’t but their product.
2- Write to the manufacturer of products who practice such underhanded tactics in the marketing of their products. If enough people write, then maybe they’ll do something about it, but if they don’t (and they probably won’t), maybe you’ll get a money saving coupon for your trouble.
In my rant, I touched lightly upon the broad scope of governmental chicanery. The subject of governmental mishandling of our money and the subsequent “solutions” (usually in the form of more taxes!) offered for fixing the mess they’ve created as a result is a huge issue to tackle. The best advice I can give to anyone on this front is to pay attention and get involved.
Government officials on all levels and from both sides of the political fence know too well that the great majority of us care more about Lindsay Lohan’s latest misadventure or how cute the latest “Bachelor” is than we do about their actions and how they affect our lives each and every day. People are way too complacent about what goes on in the halls of government because they’re turned off to it, escaping ugly politics in favor of celebrity gossip. The only solution in this mess is for everyone to pay more attention to the actions our federal, state and local governments make, because complacency on too broad a scale hurts everyone. If you are one who pays attention, then it’s your job to spread the word.
Paying attention to the many ills of our governments is only the first step in effecting real change. The smallest thing anyone can do to get involved is to vote, not only in presidential elections, but in all elections. Local governments are just as culpable for the amount of money we have (or don’t have) in our pockets and if we don’t like what’s happening, we need to act upon it by voting. It’s really a shame when more people vote for the American Idol than for a President.
If you really want to get involved, there is a lot more you can do besides voting. Writing or making a phone call to the people who represent you at any level of government is an effective way to make your voice heard. Government officials know that when they receive communications from constituents, their actions are being held to account, and then they’ll be more likely to act.
With all of the other things I ranted about: concert and ball game ticket prices, bank charges, gasoline prices, and a myriad of other things, the only thing we can all do is to be smart about what we purchase and who we purchase from. Read the fine print and shop around. If we’re all fed up enough with the way things are, maybe collectively we can make things a little better.