Archive for October, 2013

15
Oct

Debtor Nation–Part 2

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As the US continues with its nonsensical governmental shutdown and the worlds eyes are drawn to the ever increasing debt that hangs over the economies of every nation like a Damoclean sword, threatening to sever the umbilical cord we await  the outcome of our fates. Do we still get a piece of the pie and get to eat it too? The last time I posted about the US debt ceiling back in May 2012 the debt stood at somewhere around the 14 trillion dollar mark, but has since increased another 2 trillion and edged over 16 trillion dollar threshold of something which we all have forgotten the name of. Oh yeah, some catch phrase like sustainability or some such.

As I stated in my previous post these figures are huge, they are ginormous numbers, that begin to take on a meaningless hue to laymen and women alike. We cannot fathom numbers so large and for the average Joe and Jane on the street , they do what’s natural and ignore the 12 zeros following the preceding two digits. A 2 digit number holds the attention and as zero’s get suffixed they are side lined into the periphery of meaningless.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the citizenry have lost the ability to think. What do they really think this number means or is it really a case of nobody even caring? Do they not ask themselves and question how in world is this debt ever going to be paid back? By what miracle will it ever get paid? If they did they’d know the answer with the most rudimentary of research. The short and quick answer is that it never will. The game will continue until one of the players fold, whoever calls the bluff will undoubtedly collapse the whole deck of cards so a challenge is unlikely lest the fragile bluff is exposed for what it is, a fraud. It’s a game of patience, the players with the most to lose are waiting, looking for their share of bonds to mature before perhaps finally calling. The United States obviously have nothing up their sleeve so we all await the day when one of the players decides to call or fold. We could be in for a long wait, never underestimate the irrationality of the market. Wasn’t it Nietzsche who said insanity was rare in individuals but abundant in groups. Anyway, either way insanity is where we are heading to be sure.

The winners in this game is definitely not you nor I. We will invariably pay the price for the game of poker these jokers have decided to play. The insiders already know how it will end and undoubtedly have measures in place to take advantage of the windfall they will receive once the transfer of wealth begins.

It’s almost a piss take, indeed it is. The notion of never ending debt is laughable and the joke is on us. I mean 16 trillion dollars on the credit card balance sheet, seriously? And you want to make next months repayment with an increase in the credit limit? You’ve got to be kidding me right? It’s no joke though and this is the exact strategy being deployed and all the media outlets are feigning concern and entertaining the notion that someone is going to call a show of hands. That the taxpayer will finally have to front the cash to pay. I mean it is possible that such scenario could pan out and it is perhaps long overdue, however which politician would ever take the path to their own political suicide? None! Nada! Zilch!

So in the final seconds a decision will come to fruition to increase the debt. It really is the only way to continue and stay in the game. Having to concede with reality and plug the taxpayer cash cow with admission of failure is not likely to happen in this round of gamesmanship. Plus I think the taxpayer likes this game as much as the players. It’s fun to play with monopoly money and why end the delusion now when the game is getting into higher adrenalin fuelled stakes?

Debt-Fix

Of course when we think about it in a more clear and level headed arena, away from the influence of the euphoria that is invoked by banging powerful narcotics of green backed currency into the constricted arteries of a strained economy, we will notice that the narcotic we are injecting is created from the tick we are accumulating with our dealers. The ticker is the debt and the debt is the drug. Debt is money. The greenback narcotic we so anxiously and  laboriously endeavour to fill our syringes with is created by asking our dealers for more and we’ll pay back next week. Promise. “You want mate” as the Vietnamese heroin dealers used to accost me with as I disembarked Cabramatta Train station to head home from my working day. Yes we want. We want more. Always more. Give me more of those greenbacks sir. They cure what ails me. But perhaps in the stoned and heady haze of debt ceilings and financial psychosis we will perhaps wonder if this lifestyle we ostensibly enjoy is but a mere illusion and that there might actually be a healthier and sustainable way to live.

Time is running out. The 17th of October is when our dealer lets us know if the ticker is doable. If the tick runs out I  guess a trip to detox and rehab is on the cards. I forgot the government facilities are closed and the private hospital require greenbacks. Cold turkey anyone?

Category : Rants | Blog
8
Oct

Free Thought

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Does it exist today or are our thoughts held captive to forces beyond our control? With so much of mass culture being dictated by mega corporations, brands and a media which has been filtered through the hands of a few, is it safe to assume that what we think and feel on a daily basis are our own thoughts and feelings? Should we be looking more closely at the external forces which ostensibly dictate our emotions and thinking through a carefully manufactured and endless loop of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction embedded in the images and sound bytes we hear and see practically every second of the day. On the surface these images and sounds appear rather benign and harmless, but if we dig deeper into what these images are really saying, we are left feeling a slight tinge of disaffection and that somehow our lives could be improved by buying into the message we’re seeing and hearing.

Buy! Buy! Buy! The message is buy. Out with the old and in with the new. Adding to the absurd prodigal waste of modern life is the fact that most of what is old is still in fact new. How many of us buy something, only to use whatever we have bought a few times and to then discard it for something else? Perhaps a better model, a more feature rich product or an item of clothing that we’ve worn once and relegated to the back of the closet until we spot it again, try it on and find we don’t really like it or it doesn’t fit or it’s the wrong colour? I know I have and I’m sure that you the reader have also experienced something similar.

We are perpetually conditioned to consume and we have been from the very moment we’ve become conscious. Branding and imprinting begins when we are young, very young and is vital to the corporations bottom line, a means to build loyalty to their product and brand so that we’ll be lifelong devotees. Eventually we’ll come to associate brand with identity and what are we without a sense of self. Imprinting serves to brand the toddler to a product so that the kid can use pester power to manipulate the adult into parting with cash to purchase the product. Brands are a continual development and are very much targeted to specific ages and groups and the appeals to individualism in advertising is being targeted to younger and younger demographics. So the merry go round begins.

And round and round it goes. Since we’re practically in this state of consumerism from the get go, bombarded with advertorial gamma rays from all sides to the day we die, with the continual message of buy, buy and consume, consume and buy do we have any choice but spend? Advertising works and even though we’d like to think we’re immune from its influence and who doesn’t believe that what we’re bombarded with is inconsequential to our decision making process. We’re free right? Free to choose and do as we see fit. But can we be entirely sure that we are free from its grip in our psyche. Unless one is consciously examining the motives behind every purchase we are about to make, we can be assured that the reason we are buying a particular product is a direct result of it being implanted in our mind. I used to believe that advertising didn’t work or was just annoyance to be endured that just didn’t affect me one way or another but I have come to believe that those damned annoyances do work. I need only think of Coke. Coke is it! Right? But is it?

I instinctively buy Coke  when I get a soft drink. Part of the reason is because it contains caffeine and I’m a caffeine junky so naturally I want a caffeinated beverage but why do I buy Coke instead of say Pepsi or some other cola drink or a even an energy drink like Vi?. I can’t say it’s because it tastes better even though inside my head I have the justification that it indeed does taste better. Rationally it’s a kilo of sugar in carbonated water with a bit of the black stuff thrown in for measure and sugar is sugar is sugar! I’m not certain I’d be able to tell Coke from another cola drink in a double blind test anyway. I’d describe myself as a Coke man in stead of a Pepsi man but fundamentally I really shouldn’t have any preference, one way or another due to the fact that they are both just lolly water with the black stuff. Intellectually I know this, but I still prefer Coke. I could make all sorts of rationalisations as to why I prefer Coke, anything from the pretty red can to the way it fizzes but what it comes down to is marketing.

Coke is it! Pretty much sums it up. Generations have been sold on this slogan making Coca-Cola Amatil  the poster boy for Corporatocracy. It is everywhere from the billboard in the train station to happy youthful beauties rolling a giant beach ball on the beach on the television (probably not a current ad but it ran for a awhile if I recall correctly). Even the third world has a taste for Coke. In some corners of the globe, a bottle of Coke is cheaper than water! So it is with pretty much all the big brands that are thrust into our heads, with or without our consent, the corporate symbols and emblems of these behemoths are everywhere and they’re staggeringly powerful entities that deal in economies of scale that dwarf the gross domestic product of hundreds of nations throughout the world.

Consumerism is a rampant part of who we are today and is probably one of the biggest affronts to our well being. Ever since Edward Bernays brought into being Public Relations as a form of propaganda to sway the opinions of an unsuspecting public, we’ve been duped into believing that what we think and feel is an authentic reflection of who are, when in reality it is anything but. If the constant message of buy and the sales pitch is one of disaffection then it’s hard to imagine that the salesman are out to make us feel extraordinarily well unless of course we have acquired product ‘X’ to makes us so.

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What we are, is not defined by the labels we have plastered upon our person, nor is it defined by the possessions we labour to acquire but by what we contribute to the greater good. We’ve merely been tricked into the “buy” mantra that invades every part of our culture. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost touch of who we really are and in many respects have also lost a greater sense of meaning that forms a symbiotic relationship with who we are, a community, a race, a nation and a meaningful piece in the ecology of planet Earth.

We’re growing fatter, more isolated and sick as a result of excess consumption. The environment is the dumping ground of self esteem and worth that has been pulled from an ATM, grasped and held in an ephemeral sense of identity and peer approval, an attempt to belong and feel connected to a group or aesthetic and then discarded amongst the rot of all its predecessors that tried in vain to emulate, replace or attempt to attract a place in a community. A community that is itself suffering from the same disease, a disease from which marketers have a cure if only you’d be willing and able to buy a little more.

The whole circular motion of consumerism in the end neither sustains or fulfils us and merely leaves us feeling emptier than ever before, trying to fit into an aesthetic that is purely imaginary and a fantasy concocted in the minds of agents of whose very existence depends on a sale.

So how do we escape the clutches of this manufactured fantasy that we can be better, more whole and accepted by merely trading the dollars we labour for, for a product that aims to fulfil this instilled desire? It’s a question that perturbs me because the beliefs we’ve been programmed to believe are so entrenched that it seems like an insurmountable task to shake out of it. I’ve been mulling over this dilemma for a little while now, and even though intellectually I can acknowledge the futility of perpetuating the status quo of unthinking and undemanding consumerism it is indeed another matter in emotionally detaching oneself  from the self indulgent materialism and instant gratification that such a soulless activity extols.

It is perhaps a journey of becoming rather than some event. Coming to grips with the dissatisfaction and empty promises that thoughtless consumption essentially brings to one’s life is perhaps the first step in working out a direction and method in disengaging from it. Maybe it is a question of faith, having the courage to  walk away and face life free from the bondage of Corporatocracy while acknowledging that a lifetime has traversed this tightrope of want and need. Perhaps a plan is required to work out what are wants and needs, and then making a conscious decision to focus on needs rather than the constant and unfillable wants.

Category : Rants | Blog