Saturday, August 2, 2008


I'm watching tv on a Saturday morning (sue me, I'm hurt) and there was just a credit card commercial on. As images of sexy electronics flash across the screen, the monologue states 'we are a nation of consumers, and that's ok...' In the midst of a financially untenable situation, owing in large part to conspicuous overuse of credit, we are being told to just continue spending money. It's not just a credit card company, our government is urging us to spend money rampantly as well. After 9/11 Dub said go to the mall, and a year ago when this talk of recession started up we get a promise of 600 dollars and the admonition to spend it as soon as possible.

We live in a country of such wasteful excess that the mainstream answer to our financial problems is to spend our way out of it. Aside from the patent absurdity of this concept, it is also frightening. What Discover card doesn't seem to realize is that if this credit fueled tailspin doesn't end soon, they're going down with the financial ship. Our entire financial system is built on credit, and we have credit card companies trying to convince addicts to just take one more taste of the junk. A credit card company feeling that they have to lobby Americans to spend money means we're really in trouble.

I realize that the concept of conserving has gained a modicum of traction recently. Four dollar gas even has Americans riding bikes more, but in a country where less than one percent of people choose to ride a bicycle instead of drive a car every day, I'd say there's some room to grow. It's heartening that large bicycle corporations are starting to see commuting as a viable market, but this is still just a reflection of our addiction to buying shit. Our entire concept of this identity as 'consumers' has to change. This is far beyond mere capitalism.


Anonymous said...

'we are a nation of consumers, and that's ok...'

That same reasoning could be applied to soothe a variety of this nations woes:

"We are a nation that allows genocide to occur, but that's ok"
"We are a nation that tortures our prisoners, but that's ok"

It's NOT ok. Just because we're American, doesn't mean we should be immune to a global conscious.

Singletrack Mind said...

That's a good point. It's far beyond us just feeling that it's ok to endlessly waste money on shit. We have to start wars to secure the oil we need to move shit from place to place so that we can 'consume' it. In a way I was trying to tie our uber-consumerism to a greater indication of a national psycho-pathology. Thanks for bringing up that there are bigger problems than our tendency to want a 438 inch TV.