Sunday, November 25, 2012

Consumerism and The Decline of American Society and Values

2:33 PM
When we think of America, many things come to mind. Baseball, Apple Pie, and maybe the automobile, very rarely do people think about our failing economic system, and how it goes against what this country was built on. Now when I say consumerism, I don’t mean the buying and the selling of goods. And I do not mean a free-market economy. When our country began, the idea of affordable (or free) healthcare, home ownership, and running a profitable business were not dreams, they were nearly certain to happen. They were all achievable because we relied on our community; nothing outside our bubbles (short of war) could hurt that. So where did we go wrong? Was it the politicians? Was it the war? Or was it simply America progressing into a world super power with the likes of England and Spain? (mind you this is the 18th century). 
Now with every prospering country, we will see numerous things happen, the economy will grow, the population will rise, and there will almost always be a dramatic cultural shift (morals, language etc.). America is a great example for this. Even in the past century  (which for most cultures is a small chapter)  we’ve seen a great change in the way we talk, dress, and act. Of course that is a by-product of the changing times and modernization, but compare America in the early 1900s and the progress we’ve made versus an Eastern country like Japan which has phenomenal technology but has pretty much kept to the same customs and traditions they had thousands of years ago. I dedicate this to America’s love for stuff and status. Remember that George Carlin bit about “Stuff”, he hit the nail right on the head. Why do we need so much stuff, and when do those possessions transform from stuff to shit. I say, as soon as those who create the shit and possess the shit, start treating others like….well shit in order to get said shit. Make Sense? Read on.
Consumerism as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable; also: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods . Now there is no doubt that buying and selling things will produce an economy, that’s Capitalism. In America we take everything to excess, food, cars, and spending money. With every generation we see younger and younger children concerned with brand names, what does a 5-8 year old child care about the brand of his/her clothes? And let’s be honest, most of the shit these corporations are peddling will be used  by you for maybe a year, maybe less, and half of that shit, you don’t even need in the first place. This would all be well and fine if all of the excess spending were improving the average way of life here in America. The fact of the matter is, in the past 5 years, the DJIA is at an all-time high and the average American is struggling more and more. This is because people like you and I (assuming you are not a CEO or Hedge fund manager) are buying unnecessary goods at higher prices while the income we earn is not keeping steady with the cost of living. And though many statistics show that the housing affordability index is getting better, for example Southern California, and Maryland, homes are still sitting vacant while we have a rising amount of homeless. So if Consumerism as formerly mentioned earlier is the theory that the increasingly buying goods will increase the economy, who exactly is the economy increasing in favor of?
Think about how much money a company like Johnson and Johnson spends on creating different flavors and textures of shampoo and hand soap. I don’t know about you, but picking out toothpaste, shampoo and even socks is a stressful situation, when in reality its all the same shit. If companies put half of their R&D money into either charitable donations or government taxes, there is no doubt in my mind that our homelessness problem would be a thing of the past, world hunger would be a distant memory and the once guarantees of a good education, healthcare and home ownership would still stand. I will end you with this great scene from the movie Accepted where Lewis Black gives his thoughts on the illusion of college education and what it breeds.
Sean Rankin
Chief Blogger
The New Skeptic 

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