Tuesday, March 25, 2014

“Too Big to Fail” – Too Dangerous to Live

“…if people thought about real issues and needs instead of manufactured desires, the economy would collapse and we’d have total anarchy.”

Years ago, my sister-in-law noted that her parents had paid $25,000 for the home in which they raised her family. She and her husband had recently purchased a home in which to raise their family for roughly $250,000. She asked if I thought that, by the time they purchased homes in which to raise their families, our children would be paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. I replied that I felt there was little chance that our children would be purchasing homes at any price, since by that point the entire system would have collapsed into chaos and anarchy. She tried to laugh, until she saw the entirely sincere look on my face. “You really believe that could happen?” she asked. I only said, “Yes.” But inwardly I knew what I wanted to say: “I believe that should happen.”
My optimism has since been rewarded, and thwarted almost simultaneously.
A manipulative marketing system manufactures our needs, and then sells us goods and services to meet those “needs.” This system, however, is not merely unsustainable; it has, in fact, collapsed. And when it did collapse, we missed a great opportunity for liberation. We could have allowed the dust of Lehman Brothers, et al., to simply settle into the substrate and let emancipation grow up in its place. We could have refocused our society’s values and priorities on previously unattainable luxuries like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, those who entice us to ever-more-excessive spending for ever-more-transient gratifications also effectively sell us our “public servants.” And we, in turn, elevate those “servants” to political office where we imagine they will control and guide the beasts which are allowed, yet again, to drag our economy forward and upward and, most likely, over some similar cliff in the near future.
In such a system, it isn’t surprising that some manipulate the math to their advantage. Nor does anyone reasonably deny that they have returned to doing so today. What does surprise me, however, is that most of us assume the truth of their claim—that they were “too big to fail”—as though their failure would result in some unmet need in our society. In fact, the “needs” they would fail to meet are the ones they have manufactured through their manipulative marketing.
But who can we blame? We are the ones who allow them to “create demand” for their goods and services. We are the ones who bandage our insecurities with trinkets and toys. We are the ones willingly oblivious of one another, absorbed instead into technology’s counterfeit relationships. We are the ones who feed the beast. We give them billions for things we do not need. Then, when they overindulged and consumed all we gave them and too much more, they told us we need them. That they are “too big to fail.” And so we gave them billions more—for no goods or services whatsoever—because we don’t know any other life than being enslaved to them, feeding their quarterly shareholders’ reports, and masking our pain with more purchases.
But we can face the painful truth, together: They are not serving us. We do not need them. There are alternatives. Stop buying their lies. Stop buying their stuff.
Stop feeding the beasts that are eating our children.

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