Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Customer Disservice – Where Greed Is All Good

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 3, 2012

Sathya Sai Baba, no different to many other teachers in many traditions, inveighed against greed, anger, selfishness, and so on. This he did via constant harping in his discourses and interviews.

There lacked imaginative, challenging and effective ways to transform society, which he had long said he would revolutionize within his own lifetime. He is dead. But then, mere preaching is dead which fails to galvanise and transform.

When I taught for two years in Sathya Sai Baba’s Whitefield college (via Bangalore, South India), there was almost utter dependence on rote learning. Nonetheless, I have always deeply appreciated that Sai Baba ensured that I was able to innovate, and that he and a small number of his senior staff protected what I was doing from certain  ‘education’ neanderthals in that college. Not that the  unregenerate staff members failed to produce results acceptable in Indian terms, which were much the legacy of Lord Macaulay, no matter how much Sai Baba, from the safe cordon of his interminable and preachy discourses, harked back to the ancient Indian education system known as the gurukul. There were plenty of gold medals and cages for the parrots.

Mind you, Sai Baba’s followers do in fact go out and serve the poor, but he, all along, failed to tackle the corruption in India (and everywhere else) which creates that very poverty. No end of elites – political, industrial, scientific, medical, legal, armed services, etc. – visited him, and yet he profoundly failed to do what he said he would do:  clean up (his) own backyard.

The global financial crisis – or, rather, ongoing series of crises – has spurred a great many to think about questions such as:  Can local, national and international political and social leaders, bankers, brokers, corporations, governments etc., be trusted?

Notions about who and what caused the global financial crisis often throw most of the blame on leaders or governments or institutions or, more complexly, these combined. Often missing from discussion are our own personal psychological states of being. These need challenging and transforming.

It is this capricious, sometimes chaotic mental fundament of greed in human beings everywhere which countless economists – with all their tidy, supposedly rational mathematical models – failed to take into account. I think it is why the financial crash of 2008 so shocked and surprised them. Way back in 1936, in his classic The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,  the famed British macroeconomist John Maynard Keynes wrote of what he called “animal spirits”:

“Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits – a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities”.

Many ethical systems, religious and non-religious, point to the fundamental and ubiquitous cause of human greed as crucial to any understanding of social predicament. Is it just a bank or a stock broking firm or a corporation that is greedy?

Well may we ask ourselves such questions as: 

-  What are my own desires that made me so ready to believe in the easy availability of credit?

-  What was my lack of information which led me to believe that financial institutions would not disservice me?

-  Or that my government would make sure that all the reforms, checks and balances, and protections against exploitation were a) in place and b) being observed?

-  Or that I should, in effect, allow my house to become a casino?

-  Or that I should ignore my own feelings that ‘something’ seems a bit ‘off’ here? Too good to be true?….

-  Or do I see mortgage hikes forcing young marrieds/partners forced to go and live with parents or, conversely, parents forced to go and live with their kids?

-  Or do I see social engineering narrowing children’s education, instead of stimulating deep curiosity and wonder and humanity and a questioning attitude?

-  Or do I see trillions being spent on war, which becomes an inseparable part of national and international economies, rather than addressing the very roots of human discord?

 ….. Or too serious and forever without genuine solutions – such as shrinkage of purchasing power, mortgage and interest rates rises, bank foreclosures, questionable bank fee policies, unemployment and underemployment, contracting of superannuation entitlements, the pressure to work longer hours – with drastic effects on family life – and non-commensurate wages,  issues of home ownership or rental …. and much else.

If I were still teaching, I think I’d be taking students out on still more observational excursions than was my custom. Supermarkets would be a good target. They are symptomatic of much else that is part of an inhuman economic system. A related task would be to do some polling of local customer experience of shopping. They could  compare various local, national and international consumer reports, and a range of responses from Satisfaction to Dissatisfaction. Responses of various age groups could also be factored into the task.

Without my having to preach, the students might, at the right moment, be persuaded to have a look at some of their own material desires, and consider some of the more and less obvious likely outcomes. And thus begin to see how open we all are to exploitation by the cynical and self-serving.

Below are a few lines of a piece I’ve been working on.

——————————————–

Customer Disservice. By Barry Pittard. 25 January 2012

Before shopping was a nightmare, I first met Joe

He had a chain of small stores where shoppers loved to go

Joe was big on value and his food was morning fresh

And the customer was right, because the customer paid the cash

To his customers and his workers, Joe would nod and smile

He was helpful, and humble, and didn’t want you to ‘seig heil’

He never hired bludgers or sourpuss faces

Or pimple-spotted dimwits with untied laces

Or narcissistic rude bastards who make you wait for ages

All of whom expect to be paid bigger wages

Yes, Joe was a gentleman, from his head to his toes

And his worker’s ‘hullos’ to you were just like Joe’s

Well, I’ll tell you what happened to the shopper’s friend Joe

Some superstore Big Wigs reckoned he would have to go!

There was this hungry-giant store – Big Wigs’ll do for a name

(This giant, that giant – their footprints look the same)

Big Wig lackeys front of Joe’s stores they’d strut

They’d copy down his prices and by Tuesday undercut

The big-city giant’s cut-throat men

Hounded Joe from the plazas then upped their price again

Microscopic-small is the heart of a Mr Big

And a bullet-proof balloon his giant Ego is

His big arses bounce in stretch limousines

Off to Charity Galas to flounce with Kings and Queens

He’s the greedy giant that helps money systems fail

But the bigness of a Mr Big is far too big for jail

Which is why I say –

The bigger and bigger the less better the store

The less you get service like Joe’s anymore

Although you may get – Have a nice day!

Though you walk about as far as Sydney to Bankok

The staff stand like sentries around the stockade store

You keep wondering what work the boss paid for

You scan the far horizon for staff who look human

Was it a shop dummy you saw? Or was it a slight movement?

Customers come forth in every size and shape

But no-one in the store has a measuring tape

The lipstick lady’s filing her nails

Her assistant’s on the phone swapping boyfriend tales

Does anyone know their stock? Is there anyone who cares?

It’s like the window of a fish-shop with the dead fish stares

Now the Big Wig’s cry out: We hurt, don’t you see!

So they spend millions campaigning against the GST

Not seeing that they’d be better if they gave an ounce

Of real old-fashioned service instead of fake discounts

Instead of – Have a nice day! Have a nice day!

Which is why I say –

The bigger and bigger the less better the store

The less you get service like Joe’s anymore

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