Empty pockets and bad habits

In Essays, The Daily Drool on August 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

There is a lot of uncertainty in the air these days… perhaps not to be measured against all that came before, but unsettling nonetheless.  So many people are out of work, uninsured, and angry… And yet, as politicians cook up bailout after bailout, I keep coming back (as I engage in some version of mental gymnastics to try and make sense of it all) to the same undeniable point:  We don’t make anything anymore.

Americans have become locusts – buying up anything and everything that might lead to thrills, comfort, or be mildly entertaining.  I mean, who needs an iPhone?  Really?  No-one.  All it’s done  is make things more immediate – which is certainly a convenience, but certainly not anything we can’t live without.  And forget the well-intentioned iPhoners/Blackberriers that thought having an iPhone would be a useful work tool.  All it’s done is made it easier for them to work ALL THE TIME.  On lunch, in the bathroom; they are never disconnected from their employers tete.   Whereas it’s meant as a conveniece to be able to google on the go, it’s become somewhat of a crutch – those insistent voices bellowing at you from every techno-device in your employ “What do you mean you didn’t have your phone ON?”

So now there is no escape.

And we buy up cheap sandals at the Wal-mart -sometimes because our old pair have holes and sometimes because the $5.95 bargain buy  gives us a thrill.  We go to Target to get kleenex and wind up with a cart full of sundries that may very well brighten up the apartment, but were they necessary?

And we go to movies so we have an excuse to disconnect, turn our phones off, and forget about our overextended credit, in the hopes that somebody famous will make us laugh before we have to get back the lives that seem to be running us… or more pointedly, to get back to the stuff that is eating us alive.

Then we sit around arguing about what to do about high interest rates, but really we’re pissed off that we’re not making enough money to pay for the stuff we already have much less get the iPhone upgrade or to take that trip to Hawaii that we keep putting off… And it seems that in all the solutions proposed in the hopes of providing some relief that no one is willing to acknowledge that we are a greedy market – and much like many a robust civilization before us -we are eating ourselves to death.

We don’t make anything anymore.  We have outsourced and big-boxed ourselves into a corner from which the only practical means of recovery seems (to me) to be to release our grip on the material “Gold” we’re so hell bent on obtaining, and focus instead on what we need, what means we can live within, and to get back in the game of building things at home.

Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than continuing to throw money into this bottomless consumer pit?

But it won’t happen because people are stubborn, and we are spoiled.  We like having big cars and 64 inch flat screen T.V.s on the “Cheap”.  Of course we do, they’re cool.  I’ve been eyeing an overpriced set of dishes at Macy’s for months.  But like a teenager who throws a tantrum when he can’t have the $200 pair of Nike’s he saw P.Diddy wearing last week, we might just grow up a little as we learn that “Having” takes work, and work builds character, and character helps us realize that the important thing is the shoe – not who wore them.  Then we calmly take ourselves to Sears for a reliable pair that lives in our price range and we actually have time to play in them, instead of running our asses off trying to pay off something we shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

Maybe instead of government bailouts what we need is a little time out to think about what we’ve done, where we want to go, and how to get there on our own two feet.


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