Though I still think the idea has some merit, perhaps proposing an official language is not the best idea. I’m open to others. Let them fly. In the meantime, people want to know why I haven’t mentioned anything about companies that offer services to those who speak other languages. Maybe I do pick on the government too much.
First and foremost, those companies choose to offer these services. Sure, the government does as well, so we’re about even on this point alone. But while it is certainly not without cost, that cost is then borne by the other consumers of the services, and ultimately, those companies have made the choice to offer the services at a cost that their other customers will then permit them to bear. While this seems to still be even, those “other customers” of the government don’t usually have such a choice.
You can argue all day that we can make a difference at the poll, but the fact is that we can only vote once every other year at best, and once someone is in office, they can make whatever decisions they want with little regard for the constituents who elected them. Certainly if the elected official disregards us little people at every turn, they will likely be voted out at the next opportunity (see Lynn Wheeler). But if they cater to us once in a while, they can hang on for decades.
In the world of capitalism, things are a bit different. You can act immediately. If you don’t like what is happening, you can just take your business elsewhere. I have done just this on a number of instances. Has the company ever noticed? No, probably not. As the Goliaths of industry get bigger, it’s less likely that they will do so. But I can make sure that I do my business with companies that I support – or at least make sure to avoid companies I do not support.
Many companies are also public entities and you can make your voice heard by being a shareholder in the company with as little as a single share, giving you yet another avenue to enacting change, but you’ll need to wait until a shareholder meeting, usually held annually.
In any case, don’t always be so certain that the companies offering such services are in it for the good of the consumer. Sure, they’ll take advantage of the free publicity and get their name in the paper, but all they really want is the traffic. If they are a bank, then all they want is for the people to come into the bank, to feel comfortable using the service, and most importantly, they want them to get in there and provide capital so that they can generate even more money.
Now I’m a big fan of capitalism, so I don’t fault them for doing so. But don’t try and tell me that the banks are being gracious in what they are doing. They are doing it to help their bottom line. As soon as they realize that these people come in, take advantage of the free services and leave (not unlike how we use the Blockbuster Rewards service), there will be fees galore. And there’s nothing wrong with that either. They provide a service, and I don’t have a problem with them collecting a reasonable fee for doing so. That is as it should be.