How to Avoid Being Duped by Soulless Corporations

This is to be the first of many posts dealing with The Pirate’s Code. Or rather, my pirate’s code.

The actual Pirate’s code (yes, set down by Morgan and Bartholomew, among other people) were much more like case law, and way too specific to be useful for my purposes. Except maybe for the prohibition on gambling, which I am most certainly going to steal borrow without permission.

You can check out the Wikipedia article on the pirate’s code here, if you are so inclined.

The first discussions of my Pirate’s Code will be a series of foundational articles that detail my own introduction to pirate theory more-or-less chronologically, as well as allowing me to talk about life skills useful to any pirate.

Being as I’ve decided to be chronological about this, I thought initially that my first post of this type would have to be what I learned from watching the first Pirates movie. But then I realized that my first introduction to pirate theory as I have come to understand it actually came from my dad.

Because it was my dad who taught me how the world works, how to spot scam emails, and how to avoid being taken in by corporations who don’t have my best interests at heart. Therefore:

Beware Of Sharks

If you listen to economists, you may come to believe that there are two types of entities in the world: corporations, and consumers.

To my mind, there are three: sharks, landlubbers, and pirates.

Sharks are people or entities that want to exploit you. Scammers on the internet. Corporations with chirpy marketing teams and PR departments. As friendly as they may seem, their only interest is what they can get from you. Today I’m mainly going to focus on corporations.

I’m not necessarily talking about the people employed by corporations, you understand. I don’t intend to bash any people working for any of the corporations I discuss in this article or elsewhere. I’m talking about the behavior of the corporation itself.

So whenever any corporation offers you something, you have to ask yourself what their purpose is in offering it to you, whether the offer is actually something that is good for you, and how you might turn the situation to your advantage.

Take the banks, for instance. We need them. My bank allows me to do a lot of fun stuff I couldn’t do without them (well, without a bank. Not necessarily the one I use specifically.)

For instance, my bank allows me to loan money to corporations which they will then eventually return to me with interest in the form of dividends and capital gains. This is my preferred form of interaction with corporations.

However, my bank also does some sneaky things in order to attempt to take money from me. Like offering me identity theft insurance policies I don’t need (and no, I really don’t, but more on this later.) Or an unsecured line of credit.

Why is an offer of credit bad, you ask? Because the bank is using its reputation of responsibility to imply that it thinks it is a good idea for me to go out and buy stuff with this money it’s offering to lend me. Which it is, but only for them. Because they want me to pay them interest on line of credit loans forever.

They want to make money. Fine, I get it.

But that is the difference between landlubbers and pirates. Landlubbers take the line of credit and use it to buy a car or assorted other crap they don’t need, and unnecessarily give the bank money in addition to unnecessarily giving money to the makers of said crap.

Pirates are the people who make it their mission to never ever ever unnecessarily give their money to anybody.

Granted, a pirate is never going to be perfect at that, because sometimes what they’re offering is shiny and you really want it. But then you go into the deal with full knowledge that you’re acting like a landlubber, and you don’t make a habit of it.

(To practice Good Form, I should mention here that I’m not the only blogger who writes about this. Mr. Money Mustache has also talked about this at length, but he refers to landlubbers as “consumer suckas.”)

Now, I did take the offer of the line of credit, just as a cash cushion in case of unavoidable emergencies.

Credit card companies are of course even worse, with their outrageous interest rates. But you and I can get back at them by using them to collect reward points and paying charges off monthly so as to deprive them of said outrageous interest.

Points offered by grocery stores are a lot like this too. They like to trick you into thinking that you save more by spending more. Because the more you buy, the more points you get. Right?

No. That’s dumb.

The only way to save money is by not spending it.

But sure, use the point rewards. But use them as you would a coupon, because that’s basically what they are. On mine, it generally adds up to a ten percent discount.

Or actually, use them the way frugality experts use coupons. That is, by waiting until a staple is on sale, or points, or whatever, and then stocking up. That way you only buy the stuff you were going to buy anyway, but cheaper. So you save money.

Of course most people end up buying things they wouldn’t have otherwise, which is why companies run rewards programs. But you don’t have to.

Don’t be a landlubber, be a pirate. It’s more fun.

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