Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pointless Capitalism: The Credit Reporting Industry

Yesterday I spent 20 minutes canceling my triple advantage membership. You can sign up pretty easily online (sometimes without knowing if you don't read the fine print), but to cancel you have to call, wait on hold, respond to various arguments about why you should not cancel, reject a final offer of a 50% discount for one year, and then wait for the cancellation to go through. Plus, be sure to look for the email confirmation.

Just a relatively small example of how much of our resources and human potential we use on matters that are absolutely pointless. Capitalism's superstructure is really a huge waste of time and brainpower, and sometimes creativity (though not necessarily in the realm of the credit monitoring industry).

As consumers in a capitalist world we now have these agencies that assign us credit scores and produce credit reports. That surely takes a certain amount of time and energy on its own. Then we have other businesses that take those reports and send people emails and alerts about them. Those businesses need advertisers - the commercials with the dudes singing about their crappy cars and crappy jobs are pretty ubiquitous. They need insurance and banking, and probably have frequent meetings with representatives from both industries. And of course they need telemarketers to convince people not to cancel, among other things. Meanwhile, I, and millions of others no doubt, waste millions of productive hours (collectively) waiting on the phone just to halt a monthly fee.

Yet the credit monitoring industry doesn't really do anything meaningful. It doesn't produce art or expand our understanding as human beings. It doesn't produce any material goods that directly sustain us or meet our immediate human needs. Why can't we just see our credit reports whenever we want without paying anyone anything? They're obviously just sitting somewhere in cyberspace waiting for us to pay someone to unlock them for our viewing pleasure. We can get a free credit report once a year at apparently, but we can't check on whether it is being updated on a daily basis; and as sad as it is, that can be helpful for navigating the world as it presently stands if we someday hope to retire with a roof over our heads and to live into old age with a minimum of suffering.

The money that comes from our labor is sucked into this industry and shuffled around a bit, making a few people rich and providing a lot of other people with salaries that are no doubt sucked into other pointless industries. The people in this industry could be spending their time feeding the hungry, producing art, cleaning streets, building parks, caring for foster children, or giving me a massage - which I need a lot more than an email telling me that my credit report has changed (only to find out that one of the credit reporting companies finally figured out that my address changed a few months ago - there goes another 10 minutes of my time).

By the way what is your credit score? I mean, tell me about yourself.


Anonymous said...

You're capitalist superstructure.


Anonymous said...

i like candy, bubble gum and taffy