The Corporate State

The other day, someone was telling me about their troubles getting fraudulent charges removed from their credit card. It started with a $499 charge for some sort of AT&T service. He called his bank and was told he needed to call the merchant that put through the charge. After a number of phone calls, he was put in touch with someone that tried to talk him out of a refund. After some angry words, he got the the charges reversed and a credit to his account.

Somewhere in the process, he spotted some more fraud charges, so he was back hassling with the bank and vendors getting those off his card. Those charges were for shoes and clothes he did not buy. Talking to the merchants, he discovered that the items were being shipped to an address in another state so he asked if he should notify the police. The merchant laughed and said they don’t do that. They just try to notify the shipper to have the items returned. Otherwise, it is just a loss.

I would imagine everyone reading this has had a similar hassle with this type of theft. I once had a bunch of weird charges show up on my Verizon bill. It was a cramming deal and it took weeks to get the things off my bill. Verizon was in on it somehow and they eventually got hit with a civil suit. I called the attorney general, but I quickly learned they had no interest. They only take on small fries they can push a around. A big company like Verizon operates outside the law.

Now, I did get my money back from Verizon and my acquaintance got his money back on his credit card. I’m guessing he had half a day of time in hassling with the bank. I had a few hours yelling at the dirt bags in Verizon customer service. In my case, I had gone to a paperless bill. I had to jump through hoops to get an actual paper bill sent to me again so I could begin watching the bills for this sort of scam. Verizon works very hard to conceal the details from their customers and this is why.

This sort of theft is just a fact of life everyone accepts. The police no longer investigate most property crimes and they rarely go after the organized scammers, like the crammers working the telephone bills. The on-line merchants that get hit by credit card scammers just accept a certain amount of loss and bake it into the cost of doing business. Even the banks assume losses due to electronic theft. All of these losses are socialized, spread around to all of us in the form of interest and fees.

It’s not just that they are socialized. Increasingly, government is handing the responsibility of policing society over to corporations. That’s what happened when the government had Yahoo monitor their e-mail system without a warrant. They basically deputized the corporation so they could do the policing. Cities and counties all over America have outsourced traffic enforcement to private enterprise. These companies get the right to tax speeders and red light runners by using cameras to catch them.

This happens with other types of crime too. If my vehicle is stolen, the cops do not look for it. Instead, the insurance companies now organize the hunt for car theft rings. In many parts of the country, the cops no longer investigate home robberies until the insurance companies step in with evidence of a pattern. Since filing a claim with your insurer is mostly likely going to result in a rate hike, many people don’t bother calling the cops at all. There’s little benefit and lots of hassle.

This is another facet of anarcho-tyranny. It’s not just that the state has stopped doing the basic duties of government. They have subtly outsourced them to cartels with the power to tax all of us in order to socialize the cost of crime. As we saw with the Yahoo case, the logical next step is to give corporations the power to police. You may never be arrested by Google or Apple, but they will be the ones that report you to those with the power to arrest you, most likely a contractor, too.

Sam Francis imagined a more Orwellian end result than we are seeing. The end game appears to be a corporate state that is legitimized by the law, but fully de-legitimized in practice. On the one hand you have management that wears the synthetic mask of enthusiasm, as they go from meeting to meeting, figuring out how to obliquely enforce policy. On the other hand you have the lower ranks, grimly going through the motions in order to avoid interaction with management.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Solomon Honeypickle IV
Guest
Solomon Honeypickle IV

What happens in a response to all this chicanery, is that people stop buying things, and going places. The economy shrinks and these stupid ass companies go under. The NFL is busy destroying their brand value and don’t even seem to care. Bizarre.

King George III
Guest
King George III

Yeah, that will totally work. Power to the people, and all that.

joe
Guest
joe

I paid a woman with a personal check once, and she used the numbers to make a purchase online, and then cashed the check. I noticed the same check number twice on my statement and went to the bank to report the fraud, and ask them to help me find the company who had accepted the check #s online. They told me that checks went through an electronic clearing house and there was no way to find the company doing that stuff. It turned out that she had used MY computer to make the purchase, I checked the browser history… Read more »

Useless Eater
Guest
Useless Eater

No, they will just get bailed out by the government as the government raises your taxes to compensate themselves. I thought this was obvious.

DMW
Guest
DMW

The government has more important things to do than chase down credit card scammers. Example: a paramilitary raid – with a helicopter – on a pot-smoking grandmother: http://www.fox25boston.com/news/mass-national-guard-state-police-raid-81-year-old-womans-home-to-seize-pot-plant/454037484

Member

You’re talking about the utopia that the progressives dream of: all governmental functions, including policing, are outsourced to Utopia, Inc. The Cloud People, who are all cronies of Utopia, Inc., can then wash their hands of all the dirty work, and enjoy their beautiful lives conscience-free.

Member

If your friend is educable then tell him that his bank is terrible. Mine immediately cancelled the card, issued a new one and refunded the balance, one 5 min phone call. Two months later I get a letter from the bank stating that their investigation is complete and the refund was proper and my account was made whole originally and accurately. Get a better bank. Verizon is another matter. All the comms companies are running scams and fedgov is on it with all the weird taxes just for using your own property. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait for TPP.… Read more »

Drake
Guest
Drake

This. It has never taken me more than 5 minutes to get fraudulent charges reversed and a new card in the mail. If it did, I would tell them not to send me a new card and take my business elsewhere.

I’m not a Verizon customer and would be shopping for a new cell carrier as soon as my contract was up.

thor47
Guest
thor47

Times 3. Found a fraudulent charge on one of my credit cards on a Saturday night. Called the customer service dept., explained I had not made the charges. I had a credit before the call ended and a new card in hand three days later. As for the home robberies, sounds like a good time to get to know your neighbors, and to make sure everyone in the house knows how to use the appropriate tools to deal with such situations. You know, a degree in counseling so you can help these robbers understand why they do such things, and… Read more »

notsothoreau
Guest
notsothoreau

security cameras. they aren’t just for rich people any more.

Drake
Guest
Drake

I used to work for an electrical utility. We were forbidden by law from breaking down our customer bills. The State did not want us showing them the taxes they were paying each month.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

Z Man; Your friend needs a new bank. Mine has been very helpful and aggressive towards scammers but that may be a reflection of their customer base. Another thing anybody can do is look for simple ways to put some sand in the gears. For example, always file your taxes on paper. Not only does this slow up the IRS but it is fully justified by their record of poor data security. Return to writing checks. They are an effective circuit breaker between your money and demonstrably un-secure businesses computer systems that prevents hackers from easily cloning your identity or… Read more »

Samuel Adams
Guest
Samuel Adams

Reminds me of a news article a few years back. Somebody found the same fraudulent “charge and ship” items on their card, but did the next step of asking where the items were being shipped. Turned out to be a townhouse in Brooklyn full of Nigerians running a commercial level scam. Which the victim dutifully documented and brought to the police. Nothing was done. “Too complicated to prosecute”. Personally, would have chained the doors shut and burned the fucking place down and sent the story to the papers in Lagos with a warning.

TimeHasCome
Guest
TimeHasCome

I always wonder , if a person can get a fever than so to a nation . Now with the country brimming with nearly 400 million firearms what will be the match to set it all off . Surely in 32 days that question will be answered .

Severian
Guest

Wait wait wait, isn’t that the “Libertarian” dream? I didn’t read Anarchy, State, and Utopia all that closely, but I seem to recall that corporations doing this kind of stuff are legitimate, while governments doing it isn’t, because person-to-corporation is a free transaction preserving the autonomy of the individual, while person-to-government is always and everywhere coercive…. I don’t smoke enough pot to understand Libertarian political philosophy. I know what “government outsourcing its basic functions to corporations” sounds like to me, but I’m in History….

Drake
Guest
Drake

Libertarians believe the core role of government is property protection and contract enforcement.

Member

But a good bank swiftly reversing charges is still socializing costs. No one is prosecuted. The reversed charge is likely never recovered by the bank. The bank either has insurance or writes it off as a loss. My very good and frugal bank has become so paranoid about this sort of thing that if I make a charge outside of an hour radius from my home, they freeze my account and start bombarding me with messages asking me if I really made the purchase. Once again, a non-government entity is forced into what has traditionally been a government role, though… Read more »

Member

good point.

Member

Your comment and this point “Once again, a non-government entity is forced into what has traditionally been a government role” made me realize what makes me most nervous about this situation. Law enforcement as a government role is far from traditional. It’s relatively new. Sir Robert Peel and all that. And now I think of it, why should we conservatives not rely on ourselves and our business associates first and in preference to the government? I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Texas Rangers were initially a private force funded by one Stephen Austin. I would far sooner be… Read more »

Doug
Guest
Doug

The corporate state, is administrative tyranny, is like a virus, it replicates itself until it consumes everything, eating out the peoples existence.
Who is it said “There’s no government like no government” ?

Member

I need to find my copy to be sure, but I think this is the idea in The Servile State by Hillaire Belloc. The way I look at this it is a round about way of tax farming. The big corporations are oligarchies who are given quasi-monoplies in that the regulations covering what they do create unsurpassable barriers to entry thus protecting them from “undue competition”. They and the people running them are allowed to rob us and then they pay taxes to the government and kickbacks to the political parties. It is all part of the game of centralization… Read more »

Jake Badlands
Guest
Jake Badlands

I believe it’s free on Kindle. And you can get a nice edition of Chesterton’s “collected works” (quotes because I have no idea if it’s actually all his works, I’m still a neophyte) for .99 cents.

Member

Both Belloc and Chesterton were distributivists. I don’t agree with their prescription, but I think they have the diagnosis correct.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

$499 is the magic number. Something about $500 or more triggers either extra scrutiny or more aggressive prosecution. So the scams are all being done at $499 right now (or multiples of $499 transactions). Be aware that if you authorize the payment and then find it’s a scam, it is much more difficult to get reversed than a charge that you never “authorized”. So never agree to anything that costs $499, and watch for any $499 charges on your activity. The number 499 is not your friend.

Unclezip
Guest
Unclezip

Contractors attempting to kidnap me for ransom will be shot in the face.

Member

Always beware of convenience. the cheese in the mousetrap is conveniently there for the mouse.

freddie_mac
Guest
freddie_mac

“I had gone to a paperless bill. I had to jump through hoops to get an actual paper bill sent to me again”

I’m on paperless billing for almost everything, BUT I download and examine each and every bill every single billing cycle. Downloaded bills are kept on my computer the same way I used to file the paper copies.

notsothoreau
Guest
notsothoreau

I dumped US Bank for a credit union. Every time I talked with the customer service folks, by phone, they were just snotty to me. I am just done with it. I’ve been trying to turn back the clock and do less digital and more paper. I talk to a lot of customers at work that have to update their credit cards on a regular basis. Clearly there’s a lot of fraud out there.

Owen
Guest
Owen

This idea of the government outsourcing its duties and responsibilities to opaque, unaccountable private entities is common fodder for science fiction. Apparently this whole time we’ve had a caste of technocrats who consumed these sci-fi stories as instruction manuals rather than cautionary tales. A couple that come to mind: Robocop – the police department has been outsourced to Omni Consumer Products (OCP) Alien – the Weyland-Yutani Corporation sacrifices unsuspecting people in order to obtain a hostile organism that it intends to develop into a bioweapon, but its virulence and hostility defy attempts to harness it (I always think of this… Read more »

UKer
Guest
UKer

Apropos of banks and fraud, or admirable cleverness, if you prefer: I recall a story (warning: possibly apocryphal) about an employee at a US bank who realised one day that any unsorted or unknown monies (which were never more than a few cents per customer and therefore ‘invisible’) were moved down the list. In fact these odd cents from all the thousands of customer accounts were shifted to the last name alphabetically. In a moment of genius he realised that if he created an account under a new last name on the list he would get, through this account, all… Read more »

J Clivas
Guest

Your mistake was to get on the paperless bandwagon in the first place.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

There also used to be a time when you could actually depend on the Postal Service to protect your mail and deliver it promptly. Remember when “Tampering with mail was a Federal Crime?”

thor47
Guest
thor47

I got to start reading slower, maybe even saying the words out loud like at age four. I’ve always read that
as ” mailing tampons is a federal crime. “

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

dyslexia maybe?

thor47
Guest
thor47

I am Dyslexia of Borg. Your ass will be laminated.

alzaebo
Guest
alzaebo

Don’t say that. That’s why Mexicans pay their bills in cash, in person.
Drunk driving is their first National sport, robbing the mail is their second.

JohnTyler
Guest
JohnTyler

Yea, corporations can engage in illegal activities or other actions that can screw over their customers. But most of the time, not all the time, you can either get things straightened out (yes, you may have to jump thru your ass for hours or days) and maybe not entirely to your satisfaction. But there usually is some recourse to be had, even if it only means avoiding doing business with a company. Contrast this to when your own government breaks the law; as in the US government, today, now, under the dictator Obama, his corrupt pals (Comey, Biden, Pelosi, Reid,… Read more »

ColoComment
Guest
ColoComment

Similar experience: some years ago I received a telephone call from my MasterCard issuer, which inquired whether I had bought this or that in xyz town? I had not, although I had visited that location, and my card had been out of my hand only once — when, apparently, the account numbers had been copied. Whatever algorithm CC issuers use to spot unexpected and non-routine charges is pretty phenomenal. I had one other CC fraud experience. This one I spotted (I am 100% online & check each of my accounts daily). I called USAA VISA to lodge objection to the… Read more »

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
Karl Horst (Germany)

This reminds me of a conversation with a colleague who refused to use online shopping. When I asked why, he told me because as long as he has physical control of his credit card, he knows his banking information is secure so he can’t get scammed. So I asked him, “When you eat at a restaurant, do you pay cash or credit?” to which he answered “Credit of course.” I then asked him, “And after you hand over your credit card, do you follow the waiter to the back of the restaurant to see if they’re copying the account number… Read more »

ColoComment
Guest
ColoComment

‘Zactly. That card I used at a motel in Tucson Arizona – handed it to the clerk over the check-in counter so that they could start the room tab on the card. That’s the only time I pulled that card from my wallet in Tucson. A few days after I returned home, MasterCard called. “Did you buy a pizza at ….? Did you buy two pairs of pants and a guitar at…? (all in Tucson) All purchases had been charged to that card, the pizza over the phone and the rest online (IIRC). This was a dozen or so years… Read more »

Ofay Cat
Guest
Ofay Cat

“I had to jump through hoops to get an actual paper bill sent to me again so I could begin watching the bills for this sort of scam.” I get paperless billing, but I can easily go on line and look at the current and past charges on my credit card account. Can you not do that in the USA?