7/11/2005

Crimes of the Market: Part II

"Information is power" - John Cerruti (Anthony Perkins), 'Winter Kills'
It's with some regret that I can say with hand on heart that I will be one of the happiest men alive if I can ever get a job where I don't have to speak to anyone that I don't want to speak to or care to speak to ever again.
This is not out of any sense of latent curmudgeonry, but instead is a direct consequence of always having worked in jobs where one speaks to dozens of different people every day, against all of whom one must be on one's guard.
One of the worst situations which arises in such jobs is when one speaks to an elderly lady whose husband has asked her to confirm some details of their business, and one is compelled to tell her that if either she or I proceed any further a crime will be committed.
Such is the tyranny of 'Data Protection'.
Laws on data protection which make criminals of wives or husbands going about their family business are direct intrusions into that family's privacy, merely because that family made a decision when purchasing an item that it would be purchased in the name of one spouse or the other.They elevate the status of the spouse's transaction with the merchant above that of the vows between man and wife, and treat the un-named spouse as if they were a person intent on doing economic damage to their loved one.
Yet the crimes of the market they proscribe are a direct consequence of economic conditions which demand that individuals are simply not just permitted to buy at their leisure but also must be marketed to, must not just merely choose to consume but also have consumption thrust in their face with their dinners. Information, particularly personal information, is gold dust: information is power.
To put it another way, one particularly sad consequence of the United Kingdom's de-industrialisation has been the rise of the telemarketing industry. Telemarketing is concealed unemployment. All telemarketers tire of it quickly, the prospects hate being phoned and it isn't even a very effective method for the vending of goods and services. Yet without telemarketing tens of thousands would now be out of work. If telemarketing were to stop, the pinch would not last long but it would still sting.
Telemarketers cannot operate without tables of data being fed into an automatic dialler, which just churns out phone call after phone call to anyone who ever made the mistake of not ticking the box which says 'I do not wish to be contacted in respect of future promotions'.
And the existence of the laws on data protection ensure that a telemarketer can keep their statistics for the day looking healthy if they can log a call-back to speak to a husband who's out at work when the dialler has called the family home during the middle of the afternoon.
If a satellite system is taken out in one spouse's name, what right does any politician have to say that the other has no business discussing it? As if the disposition of their own resources are none of their concern?

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