Ahh, consumerism. The growing Mustachian Army fights and slashes away great swaths of it, night and day. We wake ourselves from the nightmare of our irrational desires for 400-horsepower SUVs and 4000 square foot houses.We advance further to slice the enormous lovehandles of fat from our daily routines.
We disband our armies of domestic housekeeping servants and stop requiring slaves to tend to our whims for food, coffee and fingernail therapy when we’re out on the town. And then as our own lives become as light and free as a speeding bicycle on a mountain road, we start freeing our friends and family from their own bonds. It feels great, and the legion of liberated souls will soon number in the millions.
But yet the ridiculous attempts of the consumer world to ensnare victims go on in the filthy back alleys we have yet to address. Like a pack of giant freak-of-evolution-Wormsnakes slithering in a vast river of urine and feces, there are still companies out there trying their darndest to sell people stuff they don’t need, regardless of how much it will destroy their lives or the planet which provides all of our shared wealth.
I sometimes try to deny it, circulating in my privileged life of bicycles, library books and You the Mustachians. I pretend that the shopping malls have closed and the former customers are all out there chipping up the asphalt to plant great community gardens. The Escalades are all gliding slowly along their Final Conveyor Belt, about to hit the carbide blades of the grinder which will shred them for reprocessing into wind turbines and solar panels.
But yesterday, someone had the nerve to stuff the mailbox at the Mustache residence full of colorful flyers advertising a huge array of Absolute Crap. And these flyers reminded me that that our work here is far from done. And they enraged me sufficiently that I was forced to grab a pair of scissors and some school glue in order to make the following Infographic for you. Study it, and try to keep a handle on your pulse rate, for it is horrifying indeed:
Is that advertising insane, or is it Maddeningly Insane?
Are people out there still buying scaryass white-bread fast food and jugs of “soft drinks”, a substance only barely less toxic than drain cleaner? The food is sold with big closeups of deep-fried batter, when instead the image should be of the decaying 720-pound corpse of a man who died in his mid 40s of diabetes and obesity complications.
If you need food when you’re not at home, you look in your backpack and pull out your bag of almonds or the tupperware full of spicy Indian food you made last week. Of if you’re rich, you find a place where some humans will cook food for you from recognizable ingredients.
Check out that radio in the middle. Aaron’s is selling its financially illiterate customers a $289 radio for $720, by printing the “monthly cost” in big letters so they think of 60 bucks. When instead the offer should have them thinking of a homeless shelter or a grinning bankruptcy lawyer.
If you need a radio, you open up Craigslist and click “For Sale -> Electronics”. You’ll find something just as sweet well under $100.
And the televisions. You can choose from 73″, 82″ and 92″.. so you can make the football players REALLY BIG in your tiny living room with a floor littered with unpaid credit card statements. You don’t have TIME to read a book on how to manage your money or comb the listings for an apartment within biking distance of work. There’s too much good stuff on TV, and your favorite team just made the playoffs! Plus, since you paid over $4800 for the TV set even before counting the $1400/year Digital Premium Package, you really need to get your money’s worth.
I find all of this stuff really funny, even as I find it supremely unjust. Logically speaking, none of the shit in my infographic should even exist. Why would anyone enter debt slavery just buy a product that offers only superficial pleasure while simultaneously destroying their lives?
How could any company owner feel good about offering such products for sale, and applying marketing finesse to further grease the funnel which sucks in vulnerable customers?
Although it’s all within the rules of the free market which I love so much, it’s really no different from a Mental Mafia that preys on financially unsophisticated people.
“Hey! Let’s gather a bunch of smart people – marketers, lawyers, and MBAs, then back them with a bunch of money to fool people into signing contracts where they legally have to pay us most of their income for life! We’ll offer the token of worthless trinkets or short-term loans as our ‘product’, but the real product will be chains and handcuffs! We’ll make a killing!”
I simply cannot imagine how this feels like a good idea to the people in that boardroom. To compare, I sometimes imagine that I could write so persuasively that I could offer an e-book of my own stuff on this blog, and sell thousands of copies at $99.99 each. It would target the most desperate of readers, promising them the tools to get out of debt and a lifetime of financial independence. With proper desperation, I could extract an outlandish price from everyone.
Would I do it? FUCK, NO!!
Wake up, rich people of the boardrooms. Congratulations, you’re smart and you’ve mastered the system. You can influence people and apply yourself to make as much money as you could ever need, in almost any field in existence.
SO WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SELLING POISONOUS WHITEBREAD BURGERS AND RIPOFF $720 BOOMBOX INSTALLMENT PLANS!?!?! WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL WITH YOUR LIFE, IDIOTS!!
I suppose my ranting like this is a little like getting mad at a mosquito for wanting to steal my blood. In a capitalist free market, resources flow to incentives with almost biological efficiency. If one boardroom stops offering the predatory installment plans, it creates an even more profitable hole for someone else to fill. Prices rise until enough supply materializes to meet demand.
But You and I will still keep trying, hacking and slashing. With enough cultural change, the market for Things that Wreck your Life can be marginalized and stigmatized almost into oblivion. Just as the business of Professional Assassin is generally frowned upon and represents only a tiny fraction of our economy, so we can crush things like high fructose corn syrup beverages, Escalades and Hummers being deployed to carry only a single real estate agent, and 300%-annual-interest contracts on disposable consumer trinkets.
Are you in?