The laundry room has been renovated in the big apartment building where I live. At first, I thought that the new machines that have been installed are not actually new. They are so much like the old machines that the washing machine company could have removed the old washers and replaced the outside with something stylish and shiny. Maybe that’s not so bad – reusing the old machines for a few more years sounds like a responsible consumer’s sustainable solution. Don’t buy what you don’t need – use what you already have.
The trouble is that even when I make a concerted effort to buy as little as possible in order to limit my participation in the consumption-based free market economy – I still think that somehow, Dick Cheney is making money off of me personally. These new machines are set up for two prices. The regular price is the same as the price on the old machines: $1.50. You have the option to add Super Cycle for $0.25, but if you’re not paying attention you could easily pay the extra quarter without noticing. We can be sure that quarter somehow finds its way to Plutocrats like the Koch Brothers which harshes my mellow. I think the Koch Brothers made their money from Spandex, but some household appliances are made by weapons manufacturers like GE. If you’re a person who likes to wake and bake before starting Saturday morning chores, thinking about Dick Cheney, the Koch Brothers and other war mongering arms dealers harshes your mellow.
A couple of years ago, back when we first elected Obama, a shrill progressive contingent was already raising a ruckus. Obama was barely inaugurated when they began saying that Obama wasn’t liberal enough or strong enough to stand up to corporate interests, especially health insurance companies and Wall Street. I have to admit to being among a group some people would call Hippies who complained that the shrill contingent was harshing our collective mellow. “Give the man a chance,” we said. “He just got there and has to deal with decades of Republican foolishness.”
Two years later, we see that the shrill contingent was probably right. Any progress that has been made is incremental at best, and no matter what anyone says about Republican Obstructionism or Democratic Deal Making – all discussions about Health Care, Education, Social Security, the Economy, Tax Cuts, Immigration, Unemployment and Infrastructure would be very different if both parties were not committed to spending trillions of dollars on endless war. We could fund all sorts of things if our government were interested in improving the lives of our own people instead of shooting the people of Afghanistan as if they were characters in video games.
When you consider that the suicide rate here in America has been increasing since the economy went into the toilet (Huffpo), and that suicides account for about as many military deaths as combat (NPR), we can see that our government has been squeezing the life out of its citizens for years. The fight is not between liberals and conservatives, exactly. It’s not even between Teabaggers and Progressives. The fight is between The Owners and The Rest of Us. George Carlin explains:
George Carlin died not long after this show was produced in 2007 – before anyone outside of Alaska had heard of Sarah Palin and long before the Citizens United decision where the Supreme Court facilitated graft and corruption for politicians and plutocrats alike.
That’s why I was tripping on the Koch Brothers while I was doing my laundry. This political and economic stuff is so entrenched that it seems impossible for individuals to have any impact on a pervasively fucked up system. However, when we work together we can make our own incremental changes. The whole idea behind trickle down economics is that if We The People allow The Owners to do anything they please in business, wealth will trickle down from them to us. When we get that wealth – we use it to buy stuff which stimulates the economy and we all live happily every after.
In Welcome to the Plutocracy, Bill Moyers talks about wage repression. From 1950 to 1989, income for most Americans increased 75%. In the last thirty years, where Reaganomics have ruled the day, income for 90% of all Americans increased by about $300. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Americans, 1% of the population, now has 40% of the money. You really have to wonder how we’re supposed to be stimulating the nation’s economy with three hundred bucks. It’s depressing.
One thing we can do as we’re struggling to make ends meet in 2010 is stop buying all kinds of shit we don’t need. When you walk through a check out line that is as long as the lines for some of the rides at Disney World – like at TJMaxx, Sephora and Barnes & Noble – you see that the store has displayed lots of little shit nobody in the world has ever needed – specifically so customers will impulsively purchase a few more items. Resist the impulse. Put that shit down.
The money you spend in big, national stores owned by corporations goes straight to the Plutocrats. You might as well spend fifty bucks on flowers for Ronald Reagan’s grave. When you consider that Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel and his wife each handed Michele Bachmann’s campaign the most money any person is legally allowed to donate (Huffpo), you might as well hand the Teabaggers a dollar every time you walk into a Target or Best Buy.
Or you can choose to be a different kind of consumer. When we band together, we can make our own incremental changes. For example, on Friday, November 26th, we can all participate in Buy Nothing Day, for example. Instead of rushing to The Mall on America’s biggest shopping day, hang out with people you love and don’t buy a damn thing. If we can do it for a day, we can do it for a life time.
When we stop buying stuff in stores, we can also stop buying the idea that it’s okay to spend trillions on War while cutting services in our own country.
PENolan has developed a reputation as a theologian and subversive due to her blog, Menopausal Stoners. She is a contributing writer on Black Magpie Theory, and she reads regularly in the humor series Drunken! Careening! Writers! at KGB Bar in New York City’s East Village. One of those appearances resulted in a clause in her divorce decree that requires her to write under a pseudonym, so she decided to use the maiden name of her Granny the Ho, who had five husbands. Tricia has been teaching preschool for more than twenty years and holds Masters Degrees in both Early Childhood and Secondary Education.
The opinions of contributors are wholly the authors, and are not endorsed by worldwidehippies.
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