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Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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This post equals to stating the obvious, really. Yet, I believe some don’t appreciate this basic reality: it is consumers that rule on which products and, thus, corporations are successful, not the other way around. I’m not arguing that corporations never influence our choices. For sure, marketing plays a big role in business and the research and resulting techniques on how to affect individual choice is likely to be massive. However, stating that corporations are the evil of modern society and that we consumers are merely at their mercy in my opinion equates to stating that consumers are brainless puppets, in which case we would probably have to reject rational choice theory unless consumer interest happens to always match corporate interest, which seems to be impossible in a competitive market.

A few days ago I read a comment to an article that rather brilliantly iterates on this. It is related to the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by an explosion and consequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. The author calls on commenter who say, I quote, “Why in the world do we continue to allow companies like BP ruin the environment?” The author’s basic argument is, I quote, “We as consumers demand that they continue to ruin the environment because we all use petrochemical products in EVERY facet of our lives!” The author goes on listing products that most of us affluent consumers know. Then, what I consider to be the best remark,

I think it’s funny how people are so righteous and indignant about the big bad oil companies, yet fail to take an honest look at their own connection to the situation.

Actually, I kind of falter between that statement and this one,

It’s so lazy for people to sit here and talk about boycotting BP or ousting the CEOs, because that’s simpler than individuals taking a cold hard look at their own consumption and lifestyle.