People Should Have the Self-Discipline to Resist a Billion-Dollar Advertising and Marketing Behemoth

Americans live in a culture that has been configured into a cash-extracting consumerist super-mall. When people spend, they’re merely doing what they’re told to do over and over and over again. How does conformity make people evil?

12 thoughts on “People Should Have the Self-Discipline to Resist a Billion-Dollar Advertising and Marketing Behemoth

  1. “If you don’t have it, don’t spend it.”
    Ted’s process is fascinating. In more than one way, it’s reminiscent of Charles Schulz’s pattern in “Peanuts.” In the aforementioned quote from the cartoon, there’s the “standard” chuckle from the line as given by the character. But take it and let it fumble around in your mind for a bit. …
    We live in a culture in which it is frequently impossible to NOT spend what you don’t have.
    Example: In order to rent an apartment (in most cases) you need first, last, and a security deposit (usually a month’s rent). All up front. AND you need a credit check. How do you get a credit check? You need credit cards.
    Example: In order to get a job, you need a college degree (although a lot of non-college people have jobs, the economic reality is that pretty much all the nicer jobs will tell you that you have to have a degree). Can’t pay for college? Well, you’ll need loans.
    Example: Unless you live in an area with adequate public transportation, you need a car. Every place I have ever lived that did NOT have good public transportation also had a freakishly consistent tendency to put supermarket all on one side of town, and all the affordable housing on the other side. I once lived not three miles from a Target and two supermarkets (each at a different compass direction). To get to ANY of them required a series of buses or a car.
    Example: Rent or buy? Renting a place to live is, nearly universally, decried as “throwing away” money. Of course, now, buying is considered roughly the equivalent of putting hundreds of thousands of dollars down on 6 Black and watching as the roulette wheel spins and the ball bounces because almost no one has any real hope of keeping a job for the 30 years required to pay off a mortgage, and when you miss a couple of payments, you lose the house.
    I can go on, but the point is (I hope) clear. The economic system is gimmicked in such a way that those who go by a strictly cash system MUST be pre-loaded with money in order to come out ahead. For the rest of us, those who don’t have a trust fund, it’s simply not possible to survive without going into debt.

    • «Every place I have ever lived that did NOT have good public transportation also had a freakishly consistent tendency to put supermarket all on one side of town, and all the affordable housing on the other side. I once lived not three miles from a Target and two supermarkets (each at a different compass direction). To get to ANY of them required a series of buses or a car.» I hope Ted won’t bump me from the forum for flagrant use of profanity, but is it still possible to use a bike in that Shining City on a Hill ? Five km is within riding distance….

      Henri

      • Bicycles aren’t options. Biking down the side of a highway or a busy road is dangerous in many cases and also illegal in many jurisdictions. Bike “lanes” are frequently afterthoughts of about all of two feet on the side of the road. Dead animals, road debris, branches, all accumulate there. In the winter or during rainy weather, the bicycle is a dangerous choice. On smaller roads, the constant hazard of vehicles entering from side streets and driveways makes a bike terrifying to ride. For grocries or laundry, they are useless in all but trivial cases. Also, for people of limited mobility, a bike is not useful in many cases. Adam Ruins Everything had an episode about this aspect to suburban living.

      • «Bicycles aren’t options.» Thought you’d say that Alex. My experience differs and I bike the year round here in Stockholm, even in the dead of winter, when bike lanes are employed as a place to dump snow which has been ploughed off the streets. The notion that bikes are «useless» for transporting , e g, grocerties is, to my mind, ludicrous – at times I’ve found myself with some 15 kg of groceries in my backpack. But as I said, I thought I’d get a response like the above….

        Perhaps if more people in the area in which you live biked, the politicians would be forced to improve biking conditions. That, at least, is what happened here in Stockholm – on the other hand, perhaps our local politicians are a tad more receptive to pressure from the voters than yours are….

        Henri
        Henri

      • Google “bicyclists killed in new york.” The city–and its inhabitants–are not conditioned to share the road. Cars run over bicyclists, some bicyclists fly down the street at full tilt (http://gothamist.com/2014/09/23/cyclist_who_killed_woman_in_central.php) killing anyone whose spider-sense doesn’t activate in time. On two occasions, I have had bike messengers fly no more than a foot past me going at last 30 mph.
        I’m all for bicycles. Going at grandma speed and operated by people who have been trained to operate the vehicles correctly.
        But right now? My points hold. I’ll give you the one about being able to bike home with a backpack filled with groceries, but I think the rest of the points are pretty secure. I don’t know how it is in Sweden, but in the U.S., only the rich matter–and in America, rich people drive big-ass cars.

      • As I noted above, «[p]erhaps if more people in the area in which you live biked, the politicians would be forced to improve biking conditions». Of course, as you point out, «in the U.S., only the rich matter», which the work of Gilens & Page confirms in the most incontrovertible manner, but still, the more that ride, the more riders have to say in local politics. After all, even big-arse cars get stopped in traffic jams (unless they are provided with an exclusive lane, all to themselves and police on motorbikes who sweep everything before them), so it might just be in the interest of the rich to encourage bike-riding…. 😉

        Henri

  2. Once again, we’re betrayed by our ancestors. If you’re a hunter-gatherer, you eat as much as you can get your hands on. Not only do you have no refrigerator, but you have no idea when you will next successfully gather. You accumulate as much stuff as you can carry. A guy with two bearskins and a spear is much better off than the guy with one rabbit skin and a rock.

    Fast forward a few millennia & here we are: overweight stuff hoarders.

    As with all the rest of our leftover behaviors, becoming civilized means sorting out those which help vs. those which hinder. Eating is good for you: just don’t overdo it. Accumulating *some* stuff will help you live your life, but too much is a burden.

  3. Re: “How does conformity make people evil?”

    1) The word “evil” has religious connotations and, therefore its use contaminates any discussion/idea in which it is found. Further, it is has been overused, to project onto others, by those who are as accurately considered “evil” as any examples we have.

    2) Would conforming in a society based on cooperation and compassion be seen as negatively as conformity in a society based, as it currently is, on (species-suicidal) consumption and competition?

    3) I’ll rephrase a question I asked here once before: “How does a society arrive at anything BUT conformity when it proudly, vociferously and, it appears, correctly proclaims that it is dominated by the totalitarian institutions of the military, religion and trans-national corporations?”

    • Hi, falco – I’m always happy to discuss evil. >;->

      I agree with your assessment on terminology. FWIW, my personal definition of evil (substitute any term you like) is not based on superstitious nonsense.

      “Evil” consists of those behaviors which harm the tribe, “Good” are those which help the tribe. Naturally, any behavior which harms/helps a member of the tribe likewise harms/helps the tribe as a whole.

      Any other behaviors are neither good nor evil and of no concern to the tribe whatsoever.

      e.g. Sex, drugs, and rock n roll; Sex with or without partners; the number and gender of those partners; Gambling; Personal beliefs; and bagpipes only concern the tribe to whatever degree they effect the tribe.

      I smoke a joint, it doesn’t affect the tribe. If I smoke so much that I can neither hunt nor gather, then it does affect the tribe. Same goes for any other “vice” – if bagpipes affect the tribe they should be dealt with accordingly. Preferably by a proctologist with a crowbar.

      • To CH:

        So why not the simple, common, less religiously -loaded antipode of “good,” namely: “bad”?

      • I dunno … why not?

        Substitute any term you like. I’m more concerned with the concepts than the symbols.

  4. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it !

    As far as I can see, the chap taking his siesta on the pavement neither has «it» nor is spending «it». Why is the suit so upset – guilty conscience ? Premonitions of his own economic mortality ?…

    Henri

Leave a Reply