In primal and tribal societies people worked only to feed, clothe, house and protect themselves. Then they created art and played with family and friends the rest of the time. They had active social and family lives because they worked only for the essentials. Today we work and slave for a lot of stuff we don’t need and our family, social and spiritual life suffers.
In our society today, whenever the News Media talk about how the economy is doing, what they are discussing are the profits of large corporations and whether Capitalist America is getting its fair share. They equate a healthy economy to how big business is doing, how much gross national product is being produced and sold.
Sure, they mention unemployment, but only as a concern for how it will affect productivity and consumer buying power. A better measurement of how well this country is doing, or how poorly, would be to discuss the amount of credit and mortgage indebtedness the middle and lower classes have.
The fortunes of Big Business do fluctuate, but for most large corporation CEOs, it has been mostly up, steadily up. Yet, for the majority of the people in this country, it has been down, mostly down.
The majority of the public has no concept of inflation or deflation. For us, it is mostly recession. If you compare how much work we do, how much pay we get, and how much deeper in debt we are each day, it is obvious that most people are not benefiting from our society’s riches.
Gross National Product is a deceptive measurement of a society’s worth. Are all of these things we produce contributing to a better life? Are we happier because we have all this Stuff?
Some of you may remember when a four-day workweek was being discussed during the 1950s. Boy, that sure did scare the pants off all the Capitalists in this country!
So what did they do? They invented planned obsolescence, started creating a lot of silly, unnecessary trinkets, and figured out the possibilities of Advertising. That got us back to work.
If we would re-adjust our manufacturing and economic systems properly, we could reach a place where everyone had work available and a living wage, and we wouldn’t be using up all of our natural resources. The first step is to concentrate on manufacturing essential products to improve our infrastructure and stop producing so many luxury items and impulse buying commodities, which fall apart or are rejected within a few months.
The real first step in fixing our economy is to stop listening to Conservative Capitalists’ ideas and get some Liberal Intellectuals to work, creating true solutions that will benefit the majority of the population. Capitalists have a tendency to forget the true meaning of Democracy.
Stuff! More stuff to buy means more money for the corporations, and less free time to spend with our families. Stuff that breaks after a few months or years means we need more money to replace it, which means more hours of work, less time developing our culture and more money for the corporate CEOs.
It used to be that an artisan made a product or tool of the best material he could so that it would last long, do a good job, bring him respect and future business. Now a company makes flashy things to look good, but from cheap materials, so they last only a short time, requiring that you buy another one sooner. And, of course, you have to work for the money to buy it.
Planned obsolescence will someday be a crime punishable by incarceration, when we no longer have water to drink and air to breathe. Why don’t we get smart as humans are supposed to be and start passing laws against wasting our natural resources now?
We have to stop making so much stuff. We must tone down our economy. Cut back on Advertising. Some people will be outraged at these ideas, but are they willing to face the alternatives?
Disregarding the impact on our Environment, the gross, unthinking materialism of this society is not mentally healthy. Placing all your hopes and dreams on things, rather than feelings and emotions, leaves you morally bankrupt.
Some of you might think that this is just New Age counterculture hokum, but it is mainstream reality. Our Environment is dying as a result of the manufacture of worthless stuff, and our minds are atrophying because of a lack of creative thinking.
Can we look into the eyes of our great-grandchildren and say, “I am sorry, I decided to remain ignorant about overpopulation, environmental rape and corporate planned obsolescence”?
By John Bassett McCleary, Author of The Hippie Dictionary
Excerpt from his next book, Common Sense Again