Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

The Dark Days Of Christmas

2015/11/29

The annual frenzy of materialistic, aspiritual, anti-social behavior has begun. The celebration of the days getting shorter and colder is in full swing, having kicked off for certain on Black Friday. Worse than the Black Death, this affliction destroys community, friendship, and self-esteem. We are being inundated with advertising, reminded of deadlines, overwhelmed with gaily lit shopping centers, and beaten to the ground by sales, sales, sales.

Darkness has driven back the light until it is dark when you go to work, and it is dark when you get off of work. Winter is lying across the land, as life retreats before the cold and dark. Yet we party and celebrate, buying and buying, lest we be late. Sleepovers at favorite stores, special events day after day, our schedules are packed with marketing opportunities.  It is the Christmas Shopping Season, when rational thought is discarded and greed controls thinking.

 

Puritan Pilgrims Day

2010/11/25

Today marks the arrival in North America of a group of intolerant religious fanatics, who fled Europe because they believed that the society there was becoming too permissive.   These fanatics would have starved and frozen to death had it not been for the kindness and generosity of the local heathens.

This holiday is the result of the efforts of a single woman, who organized a campaign to convince President Lincoln to declare a ‘day of thanks’ for the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.  This holiday has nothing to do with celebrating the bountiful harvests the land has yielded, coming long after all harvests are in.  Today, it is used as the kickoff for the Christmas Shopping Season, as well as being clothed in sentiment for home and family.

Holidays, or sabbats as they were called by many in Europe in ancient times, used to mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year.  They were tied to the astronomical calender, falling on the solstices and equinoxes, and the days halfway between.  These sabbats represented the periods of the year associated with renewal, growth, and harvesting, as well as worship of the ancestors.  Their meanings were timeless, beyond everyday life, immutable.

Thanksgiving falls during a time which was thought by many to be a dormant time, a period when conservation of resources was critical.  Winter is just beginning, and one’s stocks of food and fuel had to last for months.  Our genetic heritage is telling us to keep our activities to a minimum, to stay home, to endure the darkness.  We are goaded into action by advertising sponsored by those who want us to spend our money, even if we have none to spare.

Thanksgiving is a totally artificial holiday, having no connection with Nature and the world around us.  Its meaning is being lost in a blitz of advertising and promotions.  More and more, it is merely a celebration of consumption, of spending which keeps the rich getting richer.  Ignore the countdown which starts now, find another way to celebrate the harvest, save your money for more important things.

What are we going to spend?

2009/08/06

Repeatedly, I am seeing articles regarding the economy which refer to the spending of consumers being about 70 percent of the economy, and how the return of the consumer will bring back good economic times.  In other words, the economy is going to remain broken until everyone is spending more than they make, just like they used to.  What are we, the consumers going to spend?  Credit is no longer extended practically automatically if you have a Social Security number, and the credit limits have been cranked down to under 1,000 dollars for even top notch credit card holders.  Home equity loans have disappeared, the result of home values falling for months.  Income has not been keeping up with inflation for most people over the last te years or so, which means that people are actually making less than they were in the 1990’s.  So, what are we going to spend?

If the consumer does not resume his role as the driving force in the American economy, what is going to happen?  Well, first off, all the people who were making money managing the flow of goods from China to the U.S. are going to be hurting.  So are the people who made their money selling those Chinese goods to Americans.  As well as the people who transported those goods from the ships to the stores.  There will be fewer catalogs turning trees into wastepaper, fewer kiosks crowding shopping mall hall ways, and fewer truckload sales of everything from tools to ties.

Just maybe, we will begin to address the problems inherent in an economy that is dependent on people spending money instead of producing things of value.  Think of it!  The most important activity that Americans partake in is spending money!  If they don’t, empires will crash, the rich shall become destitute, and shopping malls will no longer be the American cathedrals.  So everyone is standing around on one foot waiting for consumers to get back out there and spend!  Spend!  Spend!

There are hardly any jobs that pay well anymore, because American business has taken their business out of America.  We are not supposed to research and develop, design, prototype, and build, we are supposed to BUY!  Buy with what money?

Learning old lessons again

2009/02/22

There is an ancient rule that any individual who becomes wealthy at the expense of the group is threatening the survival of the group, and must be isolated from the rest of the group, irregardless of the individuals eventual survival.  This law was enforced by evolution, natural selection, survival of the fittest.  It appears that civilization has caused us to forget this ancient law, because society has so much inertia that it can survive individuals who make themselves wealthy at the expense of the group.

But that condition is changing, the result of a small number of individuals who have enriched themselves enormously at the expense of the rest of us.  The brakes could have been put on the financial bubble long ago, preventing the carnage that surrounds us today.  But Greed motivated very wealthy, powerful individuals to intervene in the attempts to reign in the explosive growth.  Regulatory bodies were discouraged from investigating suspicious activity, Congress was lobbied not to enact certain laws, and a few overseas governments were manipulated into providing shelters for the wealth.

We all were encouraged to borrow, cash out equity, and to shop until we dropped.  Insanity began to take over, as the stock market kept growing beyond any reasonable limits, prices for homes doubled, and doubled again and again, and we succeeded in exporting our materialistic culture to even much older nations, under the guise of ‘globalization’.  Why should someone in Thailand make shoes for people in America if all they are going to get is material compensation.  The old ways may not have been prosperous, but the people were happy.

Greed manipulated us through the media into believing that owning things could make us happy, and accepting that our self-worth was dependent upon the things that we could by.  We became so desperate to prove our worth that we would buy cars that cost so much we had to get a 5 year contract to buy them.  Tho contract would last longer than the car would.  The same thing happened with houses, where the 30 year mortgage became the standard.  Very few people in this country actually own their home, most are paying a bank for the ability to live in the place.  By the time that you get it paid off, you are too old to take care of it, and often have to sell it for far less than what you have put into it.

All of these things made a lot of people rich, but they made a few people much, much wealthier.  I don’t know their names, and don’t want to know their names, because they are evil people.  They have been willing to run the world economy into the ground to satisfy their insatiable desire for MORE!  It would not be nearly as bad as it is if they had only played with their money, but they had to go and use ours, too.  Basically, we have all been broke for about 20 years, but we have been part of a shell game, a con, to convince us that really could spend more than we make.  It was inevitable that the powers behind this con would eventually lose track of where everything was.  When other nations with more wealth than us began to compete with us for resources, the sham collapsed, victim of gasoline prices which Americans simply could not afford.  It is one thing to put a big screen TV on your credit card, but entirely another to put a tank of gas on it.

Now, we are seeing values return to the levels they would have been at if the ‘irrational exuberance’ had been discouraged with higher interest levels, restrictions on leverage, mark to market rules, and other arcane things which are extremely boring to talk about, but which have such incredible impact on our lives when they are ignored.  Unfortunately, because so many of us have been sucked into jobs that catered to the Greed, such as selling people things that they didn’t really need, values are likely to keep on dropping.  Deflation could become a black hole, sucking the wealth out of the entire system.

Unless we begin using the material wealth that we have amassed to begin creating wealth that belongs to the community, such as a nationwide fiber optic system.  Rebuilding roads and bridges is important, but so is making those same roads and bridges far less vital, by replacing them with the means to move information, to the point that we can almost believe that we are somewhere else entirely.  Virtual reality would allow us to perform tasks half a world away, to take part in events without having to leave our homes, to shop for things without having to go to a store.

Insulating our homes, business facilities, upgrading equipment, these are the investments that we will have to make to keep energy costs low enough that we can afford them in an economy which is sustainable.  Educating our populace to the highest levels that they are capable of is another survival strategy, because the solutions to our problems are not going to come from ignorance.  Who us going to pay for all of this?  We are, the average Americans, who have been duped into spending everything that we were going make for the next few years.  Instead of paying off our credit card debts and hyper-inflated mortgages, we are going to end up working our butts off just to eat and keep a roof over our heads.

The 40 hour work week may become victim to the need to pay a whole bunch of taxes, so that this program of self-improvement is not entirely at the expense of other countries.  Probably, we are going to have to get by with what TVs, stereos, and computers that we have, because importing them would mean paying somebody else real money.  But we have so much incredible potential, so much accumulated wealth, that we could turn this thing around in a matter of a decade.  If we all agreed to work together, to sacrifice together, and to believe in each other.  There is hope, but it is mighty slim.

I’m so confused!

2008/11/23

Here in the United States, we use a celebration of Death to kick of the celebration of Life.  What am I talking about?  Thanksgiving and the Christmas Shopping Season.  Although Thanksgiving is dedicated to the Pilgrams landing at Plymouth Rock, it is really a harvest celebration, just a little late in the year.  (I for one never believed that people ate outside at Thanksgiving ever! Especially in Massachuesetts.)  The roast beast, the trimmings, the goodies, the pies, the whole production is a celebration of the bounty of the land, and the sacrifice made so that Life can go on.  Everything on the table will be dead, and that is what the celebration is all about.  We give thanks to that which has died so that we can continue.

Unless you live in some place without electricity, you will probably notice that the sky glows at night a lot more than usual in the days after Thanksgiving.  Some people already are burning their Christmas, or Yule, lights, and the day after Thanksgiving in the ‘official’ kick off of the Christmas Shopping Season.  The Yule Tide was a celebration of Life, of re-birth, of renewal.  It started a few days after the Winter Solstice, and ran for days or weeks into January.  (What else is January good for, except partying?)

Because merchants want us to buy our gifts, instead of making them ourselves, as was done in the old days, they sponser concerts, public events, lighting displays, and anything eles that they can think of to get people out shopping.  Gradually, the Christmas season has swung around from the weeks after the Winter Solstice to the weeks before the Winter Solstice.  Inadvertantly, we have moved a festival of Life into a time when the LifeForce is ebbing from the land, leaving nothing for when the days begin to get longer.

To make things even more unsettling, late autumn has always been a time when people tried to conserve their resources as much as possible, by staying close to home, eating very little, and sleeping a lot.  For thousands and thousands of years, what food we had would have to last until Spring, at the earliest.  So, getting out and being extra active in late autumn just feels wrong somehow.

We must remember our instinctual heritage, what cultures practiced before written history, when analyzing our motivations and emotional responses to modern societie’s demands.  There are ample reasons for feeling confused and out of sorts in the weeks ahead, and some we don’t even acknowledge.

Have a wonderful Harvest Festival!