I once said to my The Wife[tm], after watching something about big business, that I thought that Business would be the downfall of America.
This link will lead you to a story, copyright WESH TV-Channel 2 in Orlando, Florida. The shorter version is this: customers of a certain homebuilder in Central Florida signed contracts to take posession of thier homes. These contracts were a sort of Trojan horse however; they contained a provision that prohibited residents from complaining to anyone at all about badly constructed homes. Not the electronic media, not letters to the editor, not picket signs, not even discussing it with your neighbors. And they are suing thier customers to make sure they know who's in charge here.
It gets better. A group of similarly-aggrieved homeowners had an informal gathering to discuss thier situation...and the company sent a spy to make sure they knew who to go after.
This is appalling. This is why corporations need regulation. People shouldn't have to be expected to be on the lookout for people trying to get them to sign contracts that are intended to make them give up constitutionally-protected freedoms. Such bad-faith on the part of the home builder should not even be countenanced in a moral society.
Free-market kool-aid (amongst others) tell themselves, smugly, that the inherent benefits in ethical behavior are attraction enough for corporations to practice it. A lifetime of being the little guy has taught me opposite; once a business gets big enough, they see you as nothing more than something to control and to pay them what little money you got.
It's going to be a bumpy ride. Watch your connections, scrutinize your contracts, and-all else being equal-refuse to do business with people who won't let you read what they expect you to sign.
Of course, as far as I'm aware, you can't give up your constituional rights in a contract. But do you think these people, who have hundreds of thousands of dollars in future revenue already committed, have the money to fight? Would you?
(NB:Alerted to this travesty by a post at Atrios' blog Eschaton during a daily read)