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Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. . .
Old 12-22-2007, 11:13 AM   #1
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Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. . .

Is it just me?

I realize that for a good part of the year 2007 I've felt quite "down" about a number of things--the economic outlook, the fact that I seem to be pedaling harder only to have the carrot keep getting further out, and the extent to which values and decency seem to have disappeared from social relations. It's the latter that has me in a particular funk today.

This week, in addition to a crushing workload, I've spent time (1) obtaining my credit reports and attempting to freeze my credit due to an "unauthorized intrusion" into computerized records, (2) dealing with a computer crash brought about by a "trojan horse" that attempted to extort me into buying its anti-virus product, (3) attempting to update my operating system only to find that Bill Gates believes he should have unfettered access to my personal information, (4) dealing with a subscription that cannot be cancelled except by jumping through flaming hoops, (5) writing to my bank to "opt out" of its information-sharing policy as it pertains to a recently-obtained line of credit (too late, I'm already gettting at least one solicitation a day), and (6) buying a couple of frozen lasagnas "on sale" only to find that special price (as indicated in the virtually unreadable fine print) applied only to those holding "frequent shopper" cards. (I returned the damned lasagna.)

Every time I turn around, it seems that I'm being tracked, solicited, duped, and downright defrauded for somebody's commercial gain. It seems as though there's scarcely a transaction that I enter into any more that is not somehow imbued with an element of deception. This is really starting to get to me. Do I need to just chill out, or are things getting as out of control as it feels?
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Old 12-22-2007, 11:26 AM   #2
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Interesting - there was an editorial in the WSJ yesterday about the exact same thing you are writing about -how there are so many things going in the background to 'invade' and collect our private information and that many people don't have the savvy to detect nor stop. Chilling - I have a two degrees in engineering and yet don't have the knowledge to stop this nor detect it. I guess that's the price one pays to interact in society now. Sigh.
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Old 12-22-2007, 11:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by emilylynn View Post
Is it just me?
No

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Every time I turn around, it seems that I'm being tracked, solicited, duped, and downright defrauded for somebody's commercial gain.
I've had this feeling for some time and it does get to me. I've felt the situation getting worse as the percentage of folks earning a living by actually making phycial products shrinks (less manufactuing employees, farmers, tradespeople, craftspeople etc) and more of us are paper pushers. There has been more of an emphasis on grabbing a bigger piece of the pie as opposed to baking a bigger pie.

See my avatar for my personal escape.
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It's Not Just You...
Old 12-22-2007, 11:56 AM   #4
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It's Not Just You...

What you, we, are experiencing is the culmination of 26 years of unfettered, run amok, laissez faire, free market capitalism.

It's no longer about decency, fairness or compassion. It's all about the bottom line.

Could you possibly have imagined, 30 or more years ago, a CEO, being booted out of a company he ran into the ground, receiving a nine figure severance package
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Old 12-22-2007, 01:28 PM   #5
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What you, we, are experiencing is the culmination of 26 years of unfettered, run amok, laissez faire, free market capitalism.
I do feel like the OP many times. However, I'll disagree (to an extent) that it is 'free market capitalism' at the root.

I find the problem to be much more rampant in the areas that we have a less-than-free market. Cell phone carriers and cable/satellite are the two that come to mind.

In Consumer Reports, IIRC they said that something like 60% were dissatisfied with cable, and 40% with satelite providers - there just is not enough 'free market capitalism' to keep them hungry enough to serve the customer.

I've been trying to price out cable/satellite service (long story, wife is demanding it - she doesn't demand much....), and it drives me nuts. Bundle this, bundle that, intro rate here, intro rate there - how long is the contract - what is the fine print, it's endless.

Imagine going into a grocery store to buy a 10# sack of potatoes. The sign says 10 cents a pound. You get to the check-out counter and they charge you $9.10. Oh, that was the introductory rate for the first #, the rest are $1/pound. Oh, and you need to come back and buy another pound at the regular price, each month for the next two years - didn't you see the fine print?

That kinda stuff does not happen so often in truly free markets. Competitors come in and provide the customer with what they want.

Don't get me wrong, 'free market capitalism' will get away with everything they can, it is not a moral system. But it is generally true that when you have multiple people looking for your money, you will give it to the ones that do you right.

'laissez faire'? Ironically (or not, depending on your view), the government was involved in the cable and cell carrier oligopolies.

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2007, 01:35 PM   #6
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It's all about leverage. The population of consumers is too large and we've moved away from mom-and-pop operations to large companies that need to deal with us as a "swarm."

This is the kind of stuff that feeds science fiction fantasies about a revolt to reassert our individuality and fight the system. Maybe the seeds have been planted.
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Old 12-22-2007, 01:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by emilylynn View Post
I realize that for a good part of the year 2007 I've felt quite "down" about a number of things--the economic outlook, the fact that I seem to be pedaling harder only to have the carrot keep getting further out, and the extent to which values and decency seem to have disappeared from social relations. It's the latter that has me in a particular funk today.
It's not me!

Maybe it's because I'm retired, and have been since 1999, and I don't have to deal with much BS on a day-to-day basis. I remember having to deal with a lot of BS in my working life, and I hated it, and sometimes it would get me down. That just made me relish my financial independence.

But I notice a lot of folks on this board these days seem to be anguished and depressed or outraged about things that are way BEYOND THEIR CONTROL.

It seems to me that feeling depressed about "the extent to which values and decency have disappeared from social relations" is an unfortunate waste of valuable time and energy. Is there, has there really ever been, any kind of "social contract" that requires a certain level of behavior from other people? It seems to me that if you believe that, you will always be disappointed. Perhaps better to be delighted and appreciative when someone actually IS polite, or altruistic, or helpful, and reward that behavior.

I guess it doesn't bother me at all if the majority of other folks are only interested in "the bottom line" or in their own selfish interests. I have my own friends and family and my own life to live. I really don't expect anything from strangers. If someone out there tries to pull a fast one on me, then I'll take action to protect myself, otherwise I don't worry about it.

Life is NEVER fair. Wishing for fairness, or becoming upset because you see unfairness around you, is just begging for frustration.

Living your own life well, relishing the good things that come your way, is a very healthy "revenge", especially if you feel that somehow the rest of the world is out to get you.

Sorry for the soapbox. I just hate seeing folks suffer.

Time to chill out!

Audrey
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Old 12-22-2007, 03:00 PM   #8
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I find the problem to be much more rampant in the areas that we have a less-than-free market. Cell phone carriers and cable/satellite are the two that come to mind.
Agreed. I just hate dislike dealing with Comcast. Their only competitition in our town is satellite and over-the-air and they take advantage of it by charging higher prices and offering sleezy deals for temporary prices with the eventual high prices in fine print. In a neighboring suburb, where my son lives, they offer more channels for less money because there is a direct cable competitor.

Cell phone carriers can be the same. My canoeing buddy lives in northern Wisconsin and has one take-it-or-leave-it cell phone provider. He can't get a package nearly as attractive as the one I get here in the Chicago area where we have several providers butting heads for your business.
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Old 12-22-2007, 03:13 PM   #9
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Let go of the frozen lasagnas--
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Old 12-22-2007, 03:19 PM   #10
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Heh, I happily give them my membership card for the discount on frozen lasagnas. Call me Heywood Jahblowme, living at 666 Main St., Anytown, USA. You think the clerk looks carefully at the application?

Other than that, get used to it/ignore it. There are more important things in life.
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Old 12-22-2007, 03:48 PM   #11
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It's all about leverage. The population of consumers is too large and we've moved away from mom-and-pop operations to large companies that need to deal with us as a "swarm."

This is the kind of stuff that feeds science fiction fantasies about a revolt to reassert our individuality and fight the system. Maybe the seeds have been planted.
True, but eventually, people get fed up and things get better. The revolts are hapening all the time, market-by-market.

The beer market was dominated by a few bland mega-corps, finally, the craft-brew industry sprang up, and today you can find a staggering variety of good beer - you gotta pay for it, but it's more available than ever.

Same with Hi-Fi. WalMart will sell you a cheap little, serviceable system, but if you want some super-tweaky, mega-system, you won't have any trouble finding dozens of companies willing to trade your money for some super-HiFi. A friend of mine claims there are more tube amps sold today than at any time. Don't know if it's true, but there is a big variety on the market.

There is a lot of darkness, but some bright spots of light, too.

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2007, 04:21 PM   #12
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Call me Heywood Jahblowme, living at 666 Main St., Anytown, USA

LOL

The clerks at the local market see the card and real quick like call you by your last name. Thanks for coming in Mr Jawblowme

I think I see a new card in my future
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Old 12-22-2007, 07:55 PM   #13
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These things drive me nuts too. When I try to hard to make good/informed decisions, try to stay on top of my obligations, and have more to do than there are hours in a day. And then get blind sided by manipulative, insidious, quasi-legal BS that costs me $$ and time. I have ranted at the computer viruses (had the same trojans), taken stuff back to the store, and cussed the small print in the non-competitive providers. Some days it seems to pour this crap, and then there is a small period of respite which allows you to regain sanity and energy for the next go-round.
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Old 12-22-2007, 08:07 PM   #14
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That certainly has been a topic in the past...getting rid of the "high maintenance" stuff like cable, cell phones, etc. in FIRE since you no longer have time at work to be on the phone messing with them...
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Old 12-22-2007, 08:23 PM   #15
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It's funny, I do law for a living, and therefore am always involved in one battle or another. And yet it's the personal business in my life that takes the real toll.

Today on two different phone calls I got the hamster wheel (you know, "Press one for English. . . Please choose from the following menu. . .") and then, after six more choices, a message stating that my call will be recorded. That one really sends me to the moon.

Between the gubmint doing all they can to push the limits (civil liberties intrusions, taxes, monetary inflation) and businesses doing the same, I find myself secretly wishing for some cataclysmic event that would knock us back a century or so.

Thanks for letting me vent.
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Old 12-22-2007, 08:38 PM   #16
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Call me Heywood Jahblowme, living at 666 Main St., Anytown, USA.
By the way, the police dont find this funny at all.

I was "Mr. Smith" for a few minutes, then I was Haywood Jablome for about five seconds, then I was in jail.

Emily...I have to say that I've certainly had more than my fair share of customer disservice even after retirement. What bugs me though isnt all the information tracked and attempted invasions of privacy, but that they have a ton of misinformation.

When I raised my insurance tier a few years ago, my insurer did a little investigation and wanted to know if I was still living with an ex-girlfriend, her ex-husband, and her current husband. We lived together for six months 11 years ago, and I never even met her ex-husband. Yet we were all interlinked in cyberspace somewhere.

Your comment about the magazine subscription made me chuckle. I had to do at least 6 flaming hoops to cancel "the economist" and then just decided to stop paying the bills. It was very amusing to see their little notes to me evolve from a very nice white collar approach of "Perhaps you've forgotten and we understand..." to a "You scumbag %$#...pay your bill because you've basically stolen our product and not paid for it like you said you would!"
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Old 12-22-2007, 08:45 PM   #17
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One of my major goals is to reduce stress in my life. I started on this path in my final years of gainful employment. Now that I am FIREd, I am trying to perfect this.
Having said this, IMO, letting all of lifes little annoyances bother you is what adds to bad stress levels. I believe the solution is related to Occams Razor, where all things being equal, the simplist solution is best. My simple minded application of this is to ignore as much as I can the clutter of life. Interface minimally with the systems that can cause you troubles (i.e. only going to the internet for my purposes ... deleting without opening any emails with people or companies that I did not initiate the conversation with, ... etc.). laugh off the stupidity of what some of the people, companies, government entities 'do'. Although I will have to admit that I have had to build a think skin over the past years, so that I 'really don't care' of some of the minor annoyances.
Otherwise you end up where you are ... really p*ssed off... with high levels of stress and feeling rather 'helpless'.
I believe you have stated the immediate fix to your problem... CHILL OUT.
See what does it for you and DO IT. Then you can go back to the grind.

hmmm I hope that this made sense ... 3 glasses of wine ...
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Old 12-22-2007, 08:49 PM   #18
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hmmm I hope that this made sense ... 3 glasses of wine ...
Yep. Gettin fit shaced is an excellent way to de-stress...
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Old 12-22-2007, 09:15 PM   #19
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and then there is a small period of respite which allows you to regain sanity and energy for the next go-round.
For Sandy & the OP -

one somewhat 'polyanna-ish' tactic that actually works for me from time-to-time (a very un-polyanna-ish person) - when someone (usually a small private business, but maybe a small cog in a large wheel), does something a bit above-and-beyond for you - take the time to give them a very sincere 'thank-you'. Maybe write a letter to their boss, complimenting them on the fine job they did, and how mich it meant to you. It can make you feel better, honest.

It also helps justify going off on the next jerk that crosses you.

Call it Karma

-ERD50
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Old 12-22-2007, 09:24 PM   #20
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... (2) dealing with a computer crash brought about by a "trojan horse" that attempted to extort me into buying its anti-virus product, (3) attempting to update my operating system only to find that Bill Gates believes he should have unfettered access to my personal information ....
When I retired, I was glad to get "the man" off my back. I went further and got the Microsoft monkey off my back and have been living a Microsoft-free life since.

I spend a lot of time using my computers. Like most folks, I just wanted to enjoy my computer for personal use and upgrade parts of it at my own pace. I resented the reliability issues, insecurity, creeping intrusion, insatiable greed, planned obsolescence, and manipulation which come with using Microsoft products legally.

I've been using Linux. I don't recommend Linux for everyone. I've used UNIX professionally for decades, so using Linux was quite comfortable for me.
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