CONSUMERISM INVADES PERSONAL LIFE

Are you a victim of endless intrusion by marketing forces that invade the privacy of your home and computer? It starts with the junk mail that the postal service jams into your mailbox. Next come the “robocalls,” those telephone solicitations from a recording on a daily call cycle. I get four to six repeat calls every day. Then you have to clear your computer screen of obstructing commercial ads while accessing a website.

There is no way avoid these pesky probes into your privacy in today’s digital age. To further complicate your day-to-day activities is the necessity of pass words and pin numbers to keep intruders out of your personal affairs. Just try to remember all the different codes for access to your records. You used to get by with a single ID, your Social Security number, now you can’t even give it out without risk of hacking.

So what can you do to keep your privacy? Not much. Experts advise changing your pass words often; or change your telephone number; or limit your use of the internet, Facebook and Tweets. Otherwise your private life is broadcast to literally millions of strangers, mostly marketing blood hounds who want you on their mailings and robocalls.

I suppose the wide-spread market for consumer spending and the digital age must succeed in accessing your privacy. Economists claim that the U.S. economy is driven by shopping, entertainment, travel and auto purchases. That’s too bad for a financially secure middle class that prospered when America was a major industrial nation. Now that industry is done overseas with cheap labor while Americans are besieged with promotions for “fun” things and social networking.

The New York Times estimated that the U.S. gross national product (GDP) is 70 % driven by consumer spending. This huge economy is primarily funded by personal debt. With that kind of clout, no wonder your privacy is assaulted so frequently.

When the United States was in the booming postwar years of the 1950s, the country’s GDP was weighted more towards industry with coal mining, steel manufacturing, the automotive industry and construction to fulfill the needs of the oncoming boomer generation. It was a strong middle class developing and buying American-made products.

What happened to this vibrant economy that stretched into the new digital age of the 21st century? Some analysts would blame the powerful labor unions of reaching too far in their demands that eventually forced industrial production overseas. Perhaps even a stronger influence to a shift into consumerism was the rise of the Asian economy. First Japan took over much of our electronic products, followed by South Korea and finally the powerhouse of China competition in digital devises, household products and clothing.

Whatever the cause of this shift from an industrial culture to one that supports products and services generated overseas, it destroyed a vibrant American middle class created in the 20th century. This change in the domestic economy coupled with the advance of the digital age created the invasion of personal lives by the availability of access by telephone and email and the use of social networking in everyday life.

President Trump wants to make America great again by bringing back those lost jobs. In the last two decades the skilled work force has been replaced by automation leaving the unskilled labor market abroad affordable. Until Americans are willing to pay more for consumer products, the work will remain overseas. The very people shopping around for bargains are the ones suffering most for better job opportunities.

I was provoked to shed my frustration over invasion of privacy by a series of robocalls I receive every day. A debt collection agency calls four times a day, seven days a week. I have learned their time schedule and never answer the call. I have no due debts. If I did, the vendor would send a statement.

So the debt collector is a scam like the threats that people receive from a so-called IRS agent. The IRS does not collect over the telephone, it sends assessments by mail, the U.S. Postal system kind. Unfortunately the pesky debt collector is not screened out by my land-line service as the many other robocalls are disposed.

Now we have the scary prospect that the federal government will allow consumer and credit organizations to share their customer data base with others without the consumers’ permission. That can be a lucrative business, like buying customer lists. A survey by Consumer Reports disclosed that 92% were against selling customer data without permission.

Telecom firms like AT&T, Charter, Comcast. Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon were prohibited by the Obama administration. But Congress and President Trump rolled back the regulation. The argument in favor of internet privacy is that the customer pays for the service. Facebook and Google provide free service and do not qualify for privacy.

Look out for the deluge of telephone, computer and postal solicitations to invade your privacy.