My question is…

Why do you think you were born in the richest, safest, freest, most opportunistic country in the world?

Is it…

  1. To memorize the participants on dancing with the stars, the voice, Seinfeld, the biggest loser,, Lost or the some other retarded show that requires you to shrink your brain to the size of a pea ?
  2. So you can buy this year’s model car?
  3. To buy a $200 bottle of wine?
  4. To buy the new Apple phone because some one will see you’re using last years model and ridicule you until you take your own life.
  5. To wear a Rolex watch?
  6. To fly first class?
  7. To by a 75” TV?
  8. To vacation in Tahiti?

You are confused.  You are a gerbil.  A mouse a wheel.  A rat running a maze created by advertisers.  Your life is worthless.  You are a fool who has been duped by consumerism.  You are part of an experiment: to see if you will salivate as much as Pavlov’s dog when you see a commercial for Mercedes Benz or Lexus.

Not only are you a fool, but you have never spent one minute questioning yourself, your goals, and your life style.  You never associate with people out of your economic class or political affiliation who might force you to look deeper into your psyche and evaluate your choices based on the plight of others.

Have you ever, in the quiet moments of the night asked yourself if your life has meaning besides the car your dive and the square footage of your house?

Bear with me for a five minute dissertation on Consumerism…

With the advent of the assembly line and other modern innovation, workers found themselves with more free time.

In their spare time, people went to the movies and gathered in stadiums to watch professional sports.  In 1926, the first radio networks were established.

Inventions, such as the car, radio and movies opened the doors to a previously unknown world.  The optimism of the 1920s was fueled by the emerging mass media empire, the advertising industry and the corporations that marketed illusions of fulfillment.

Workers found themselves with more money, and due to the puritan background, they saved diligently.

Yet, in order for businesses to grow sales and profits, they had to rid workers of traditional values and attitudes toward thrift and prudence and nurture qualities like wastefulness, self-indulgence, and artificial obsolescence.

Advertisers constantly told them that those were the fruits of success, which was what life was all about.  By the mid 1920s innovations in industry led to supply outstripping demand, and problems of scarcity were replaced by problems of how to create more demand.

Over-production and lack of consumer demand was blamed for recession.  More goods were being produced than a population with set habits and means could consume.

There were two schools of thought about how this problem should be solved.  One was that work hours should be decreased and the economy stabilized so that production met current needs.  The opposing view, mainly held by business people and economists, was that overproduction could and should be solved by increasing consumption so that economic growth could continue.”

Manufacturers needed to continually expand production so as to increase their profits.  Others warned that a five-day week would undermine the work ethic by giving more time for leisure.  If work took up less of the day, it would be less important in peoples’ lives.

They also feared that given extra free time, people might become radicals: Common people have to be kept at their desks and machines, lest they rise up against their betters.’

It was important that leisure was not an alternative to work and an opportunity to reflect on life, but rather a time for consumption.  At the same time, leisure had to be subordinate to work and importantly, a reason to work.

And so the end result is a culture, not just any culture, but the richest on the planet, that wants nothing more than to buy goods that require the precious resources of the Earth, are built with planned obsolesce in mind, and in turn pollute the environment to an unsustainable degree.

Consumption helps sublimate and redirect urges that might otherwise be expressed politically or aggressively.  To those who cannot change their whole lives or occupations, even a new dress is often a relief.

It is only as purchasers, or shoppers that workers are treated with the courtesy worthy of a human being.  What matters in getting ahead and influencing people was the impression a person made on others.  Ordinary people could enjoy the same products and goods that the people at the top did.”

Even as bankruptcy and financial debt increased, consumers continue marching to the discount stores, trading their wages for things that will be worth less or worthless by the next season.  What we know today as conspicuous consumption.

Advertisers are merchants of discontent who take advantage of the upgrading urge that people feel.  With the help of installment plans and credit, they could purchase the signifiers of success.  Advertising was so successful that people began diverting funds from savings into the purchase of a car or home that would enhance their status.

The idea that there were limits on consumer wants began to be eclipsed by the idea that such wants could endlessly be created.

The Barons of industry asked themselves, ‘If such benefit could be derived by 9-5 control, what could be done by 5-9 control.’

“And that was when consumerism was taken to the next level: bank loans, purchases on margin, credit cards, constant, redundant TV commercials.  Businesses instilled a psychological and physiological need in people for ‘things.’  Workers were told what to make in the day and what to buy in the evenings and on weekends.”

While you pay $300 to get your dirty car washed and waxed, people are starving, dying, driven from their homes.  Raped, beaten, dismembered.  Millions in Africa and the Middle East fled to camps where the guards force the women to have sex with them before they give the people the food which is supposed to be free.

You could feed a village of 18 people for a month for what it cost you for one night out on the town.

You could support Doctors without Borders, African relief fund, Red Cross, UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, Human Society, and Nature Conservancy.

You could donate to save the Amazon rain forest.  There are a hundred honorable, compassionate, far-sighted, kind, generous ways to spend your money.

Donald Trump came close to turning America into a fascist state and you did what…?  Voted?  That’s the least you could do.  You could have marched, protested, donated to the Democratic Party, sent letters to your congressmen, and gathered friends at you home to expose Trump as a liar, a sadist, an uneducated fool, a misogynist, a thief, a fraud, a criminal.

The world is warming, dangerous weather events have increased dramatically, people are starving, democracies are in danger, and what…?  You worry about your $100,000 car being scratched.  Your dinner reservation being honored? Your suit being pressed in time for a formal affair?  And you certainly don’t want to miss your meditation and yoga classes.  After all, you have so much stress in your life.

Stress?  You are living in a fantasy world.  You have never experienced stress…ever.

You want to learn what stress is….?  Go to Nigeria; live in a mud hut with no running water, no electricity, and just enough food to eat one meal a day.  Then get a visit from the Jihadists who ask you, “Long sleeve or short sleeve? Then cut off your hands (long sleeve)  because you belong to the wrong tribe.

Come back to the U.S. after that and speak about the stress in your life.

Wake up!  You are living an ugly, selfish life.  Do something good with your money…help those in need.  You don’t need a new car because they changed the exhaust system since you bought yours.

Try thinking beyond your narrow, self-centered, selfish life.

Wake up.

Do you believe in reincarnation?  Some of you do; some don’t.  I’m ambivalent, but I’m not willing to risk returning as a dug beetle because I indulged myself while others were suffering and dying.

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