Public Storage - Aerosol Skies - High Fees And Poor Maintenance - Shareholder Benefit Is Primary Focus Of Operation, Not Employee Or Customer Satisfaction

Financial - October 24, 2015

Public Storage facility with chemtrails above. 10/24/2015.



I went to my Public Storage unit today. The midday air was hot and full of heavy metal fallout from the aerosol trails being laid out all morning long. A white mist had descended over the valley, yet few if any people dared look up and comment. It's simply not a subject that polite people engage. Best to maintain our silence as we are forced down the chute.

There are so many reasons why I despise the nationwide Public Storage chain. I had been with the privately owned "mom and pop" Condor Self Storage when I lived in Ojai. There the rates were cheaper, and went up only once -- by just five percent -- in the four years I was there. Plus, because I had two units for a while, I was given a ten percent discount (the Senior Citizen rate) on the second unit I had, and I was able to keep that rate when I closed the larger unit. As of the time of this writing (2015), a good four years since I separated from Condor, it appears that they may have been purchased by the national conglomarate, Epic Storage. If so, we'll see whether their rates remain reasonable.

At Public Storage my teaser rate -- which was still higher than what I was paying with Condor -- went up a whopping 34% in 18 months, from $134 to $179 per month. I quizzed site staff after the second hike as to when the price gouging would cease. Their response: "Never." Apparently, there are some unfortunate customers who have had their 9'x10' climate controlled units for seven years or longer, who started out paying just $70, and now are paying over $300 per month. Public Storage offers no discounts for longevity, nor for seniors, teachers, law enforcement, the poor, or any other special group. Every six-to-twelve months, like clockwork, the price goes up.

At Condor the grounds were swept and the plantings manicured by a maintenance team that came to the facility weekly. There was never any buildup of dust, cobwebs, rubbish, or the like. The place was spotless, and nothing was broken for more than a day. There were two large trash bins for customer use. The bathroom was always clean and open for use during office hours. A family employed by Condor lived on-site, which provided added security.

Public Storage, on the other hand, is, to my knowledge, never professionally air-blown or washed. Maybe once per month one of the attendants will sweep a few of the dust balls that accumulate in the interior hallways. Outside my wing, at the entrance door, there was for half a year a bird roosting in one of the light fixtures, with hundreds of droppings strewn about just a couple feet from the door's threshold. It was impossible to access the building without stepping on bird feces. For the past three years the toilet seat in the poorly maintained bathroom has been so deeply etched with graffiti that it is like braille to one's behind, and graffiti remains a permanent decoration on the bathroom walls. Paper is often overflowing from the wastebasket. Weeks will go by where the bathroom is not open during office hours due to some maintenance issue. This is a problem when I have several boxes open in the hallway as I go through the contents of my unit, and then midway through my task I find nature calling me for a bowel movement. At such times I have to cease my work, repack the unit, and drive to a nearby shopping center to find a functioning bathroom. Tenants who are evicted or who otherwise leave in a rush, will often leave bulky or hazardous items in the parking lot or driveway, items that may be there for weeks before removal, on account of no trash cans being available for the 1000+ tenants. One of the two entry gates to the facility was broken for 18 months. It was the gate closest to my unit. As the weeks and months passed my amazement would mount as I continued to see the orange hazard cone placed in front of it. I asked the attendant, "So what if the other gate breaks? Then we'll have NO functioning gate!" Their response was that a work order had been placed and that management would see to its repair in a time and manner of their choosing.

Unlike my particular Public Storage location, Condor Self Storage had cameras in the interior halls, an alarm system that was triggered when the gate entry code did not match the storage unit being opened, and management that lived onsite. In sum, it was a more secure facility for less money. In researching other facilities staff shared horror stories on how theives would be on site after hours and forcibly open numerous units with no alarms going off because the site didn't have a trigger for a door needing to be linked to a gate entry code. Either the sheet metal would be cut through directly or locks would be cut and quickly replaced after the looting, with no one made aware of the break in until the occupant's next visit. Site staff for most storage facilities are now required to place a sticker on each lock in use at the premises, so that a replacement lock lacking the sticker would raise suspicion. But even these stickers can be faked with sufficiently motivated thieves.

What with the $2148 and rising yearly rental, and the less-than-adequate security measures in place, I find myself wanting to get rid of my things. I could have purchased these possessions multiple times with the rentals I've paid. The problem is that since leaving Hawaii I haven't had a home that I owned. I've been renting places that were small. I haven't trimmed my possessions down to a manageable level, always hoping to live once again in a house with massive storage space on site. I've been using a rack in the storage units as a staging area for items that I wish to donate. So as I determine that things that I own (for personal use or use as a teacher) are no longer needed, I store them here until I have enough to make a car load of donations. Also, with respect to valuables, while keeping things at home, on your person, or in a safe deposit box, all of those methods have their own unique pros and cons. So adding a storage unit to the mix is sometimes a good idea. Regardless, it certainly helps to keep where I live free from clutter.

Employees' (generally) poor ratings of Public Storage.

Public Storage customer complaints.

The Rise Of The Corporatocracy

I could go on with my grievances. But let me get to the point: Public Storage, being a publicly traded, shareholder-owned corporation, has as its overarching mission the maximization of profits. The service the company provides is of secondary importance. Any and all profits -- the more the better -- are extracted from the customers and distributed to shareholders. Management charges not what will provide itself with a fair rate of return, but rather the maximum that the market will bear. The absolute most that customers in a given area can afford will be determined and assessed. The employees make a pittance, with benefits and incentives dwindling each year. Bonuses for certain performance metrics are available, but rarely attained as they constantly change and are made more difficult to achieve. Employees have told me that upper management receives bonuses for reducing the bonuses paid out to lower level staff.

The figures vary, but the top 10% of income earners own approximately 90% of corporate stock. So any service, once launched as a publicly traded corporation, is a capital-vacuuming, wealth-consolidating vehicle for the very rich. Public Storage, Extra Space, and similar corporations are buying up all the independently owned storage facilities and then raising rates while eliminating services. The motive is pure profit. I don't have a problem with profits, per se. The problem is excess profits. More about this in a moment.

Corporations should not have a license to do whatever they wish to do. The original intent of state-sanctioned incorporation was to facilitate the provision of a needed service. A would-be corporation must provide compelling evidence that its intended function is both needed by the public and an improvement over what currently exists. There was a sunset/dissolution clause that provided for termination of the new entity after a certain speficied date. But in the past 150 years this has changed. What we have now, in 2015, are corporations that are immortal, are never dissolved even after repeat egregious wrongdoings, and basically have more rights than living human beings. Global corporations now possess more power than (formerly) sovereign governments, and pose a real threat to the will of the public being expressed through their now corporate-corrupted public governance. Corporations can pollute with impunity and through their tremendous financial power steer the course of world events to serve their agendas. Corporations today are immortal. Copyrights that are extended to their products (e.g., the original Mickey Mouse silent films from nearly 100 years ago) last forever, while those granted to individuals are good for only 50 years or so. There are all kinds of debates on the consequences of this policy, one of which is that a nation's cultural heritage becomes a privately owned commodity that is never ceded to the public domain. This practice, apart from guaranteeing profits and monopolies to large corporations, among other things, places a stranglehold on freedom of expression. The cultural artifacts that define, or at least provide a reference point for a person's or a nation's identity are never free to be appropriated or existentially "owned" because it is trademarked in perpetuity by a profit-seeking, market-dominating, shareholder-owned corporation whose profit motive and avariciousness only increase with time and never die.

Companies that are abusing the public trust should be dissolved. Companies that are involved in violations of Constitutionally-protected, God-given human rights should be shuttered. Companies that are so large as to dominate a market or prevent meaningful competition in that market should be broken up into smaller entities. Companies should be held to account if they are violating your privacy, polluting your environment, or gouging you financially. A better balance must be made between providing a needed service and profitting from it. The "people," the judicial system, and our elected representatives must be in charge. A corporation must never be so great as to overpower or outwit the structures of public governance. Financial power must not rule the day. This is certainly not the case today in the year 2015. But it is my dream.

I am reminded of a story regarding the purchase of the Los Angeles Times newspaper. The new management was not content making the 8% return on investment that the paper produced. So what did they do? They cut costs dramatically. The kept prices the same while eliminating foreign correspondents, investigative reporters and anything else that was not directly providing revenue. They were able to get the paper to produce a 22% return, but at the expense of 100s of jobs and a diminishment of meaningful reporting and news coverage. When budgets are tight and the news is watered down so greatly, editors begin to print corporate and State Department press releases as actual independently produced news. Because they no longer had their own reporters in Moscow, for example, they regurgitated the reporting of other organizations since they couldn't verify anything on their own. It is a sad turn of affairs felt across the entire news sector. The founders of our republic stated that freedom of the press and an informed citizenry are essential to a nation's wellbeing (more below). Given the profitability of the Los Angeles Times, it is clear that an informed citizenry was being sacrificed to a wealthy elite.

But this is fascism, isn't it? The merger of State and Corporation. The reduction of Citizens to mere "customers" or, as members of the Rockefeller dynasty have said, "Useless Eaters."


How do we know that government regulators, who are already corrupt, will make good decisions when it comes to limiting corporate activity? How do we know that regulators, purportedly the voice of the people, will not merely be instruments of avarice, selectively enforcing rules on corporations who have not paid the appropriate bribes to important "officials" and "servants"? I don't have an easy answer for that. In my opinion, citizens of the United States of America largely have lost control of their governance, especially at the federal level. If there is any hope at all, it lies in Thomas Jefferson's belief that an enlightened electorate, sufficiently informed, will hold government accountable:

"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:278

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:207

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816. ME 14:384

Given that we do not have an "enlightened citizenry," and given the people's unwillingness to wrest control away from illegitimate parties (parties who have neglected their duty to defend and uphold the Constitution), perhaps you might say we should let the "market" decide pricing and other corporate practices. Yes, I could take my storage needs elsewhere, but there aren't any more mom-and-pop, charge-a-fair-price storage businesses anymore. For the most part all the storage locations within a 30 minute drive are publicly-traded, profit-is-paramount outfits owned by gigantic corporations. There is no longer any competition. You might say that Extra Space and Public Storage (the two principal players in my locale) will compete with each other, thereby ensuring a more fair price. But I don't think that is what is happening. As David Rockefeller famously said, "Competition is a sin." I have little doubt that decision makers in both companies have colluded with each other to ensure maximum profits. As long as they are engaging in monopolistic business practices, the "free market" solution will not work. Hence, the need for enlightened government intervention.

More here:

Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government

Educating the People

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens. It should be noted, that when Jefferson speaks of "science," he is often referring to knowledge or learning in general.

"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:278

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:207

"The most effectual means of preventing [the perversion of power into tyranny are] to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts which history exhibits, that possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes." --Thomas Jefferson: Diffusion of Knowledge Bill, 1779. FE 2:221, Papers 2:526

"The information of the people at large can alone make them the safe as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1810. ME 12:417

"The diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason, I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. ME 3:322

"Though [the people] may acquiesce, they cannot approve what they do not understand." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on Apportionment Bill, 1792. ME 3:211

No Freedom Without Education

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816. ME 14:384

"Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805.

"No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity." --Thomas Jefferson: Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, 1821. ME 19:408

"Freedom [is] the first-born daughter of science." --Thomas Jefferson to Francois D'Ivernois, 1795. ME 9:297

"Light and liberty go together." --Thomas Jefferson to Tench Coxe, 1795.

"Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to, convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. Madison Version FE 4:480

Education and Republican Government

"[I have] a conviction that science is important to the preservation of our republican government, and that it is also essential to its protection against foreign power." --Thomas Jefferson to -----, 1821. ME 15:340

"There are two subjects, indeed, which I shall claim a right to further as long as I breathe: the public education, and the sub-division of counties into wards. I consider the continuance of republican government as absolutely hanging on these two hooks." --Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell, 1814. ME 14:84

"The value of science to a republican people, the security it gives to liberty by enlightening the minds of its citizens, the protection it affords against foreign power, the virtue it inculcates, the just emulation of the distinction it confers on nations foremost in it; in short, its identification with power, morals, order and happiness (which merits to it premiums of encouragement rather than repressive taxes), are considerations [that should] always [be] present and [bear] with their just weight." --Thomas Jefferson: On the Book Duty, 1821.



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