Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Anti-Consumer

Sometimes I think I should have been born 100 years ago. It’s tough to balance your ideals with social conveniences. Rampant consumerism drives me crazy. Someday, I would love to try living in a non-capitalist society, where you can barter for goods and services.
The first time I realized how bad it is in our society is when Butch and I had a car accident. We went to the hospital and each had a couple grand in medical bills. My bills and my time off work were covered through my employer. The car was worth about $2K (in 1988) and was totaled. There were witnesses willing to testify that the other party was at fault.
Yet, the guy’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for Butch’s car and bills, which totaled less than $5K. With witnesses and a cop ready to show in court, they HAD to know that we were going to consult a lawyer, yet, no way were they going to pay this measly amount.
We went to a lawyer, who required them to cover my losses, too, including the sick time that I had used. He called our scars “disfigurement” and wrote up a claim for our “pain and suffering.” They settled out of court for about $30K between the two of us. WTF??
I learned a lot from that experience. Of course, the lawyers got their share. The insurers will use our payments as “statistical data” to raise their customers’ premiums. Both industries were fed with the illogical handling of Butch’s claim. They were fed at the expense of The Little Guy. TLG is the only one doing any work in our society; everyone else is feeding off him.
When you pay attention, you see the constant bombardment for The Little Guy to spend, spend, spend. I once bought some Christmas lights and they WOULDN’T PLUG INTO MY EXTENTION CORD. These new light plugs were designed to plug into the new, outdoor extension cords that were colored green, to match the outdoors, I guess. That'll be an extra $19, please.
Electronics is an area where you can easily see this furious consumerism; they are obsolete as soon as you remove them from the bag. How often do we really need a new way to play movies? Beta, VHS, DVD, Blue Ray – it’s all John Wayne, for God’s sake! What else do we truly need our phones to do?
The Little Guy, though, does this to himself. He’s a willing participant in his own financial violation. The novelty/eLust/competition to have more eventually get to him. Camera phones are convenient, so TLG needs to add messaging to his plan, so he can do something with the pictures. Then he decides that he needs to access the web from his phone, too. It just never ends.
I try to be conscious of this push for us to keep spending to support non-essential services or items. I think more legitimate ventures would be generated if we weren't supporting this useless stuff.
Why not play tennis on a court instead of a Wii? Why use a treadmill when I can walk outdoors? The easiest things to avoid are disposable items. I can use plastic containers instead of plastic baggies. I have a permanent coffee filter and use cloths instead of paper towels.
I refuse to become The Little Guy!

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