Thursday, September 27, 2012

consumer hell

CONSUMER HELL
A steady feature of the doom and gloom crowd, which is actually more like Doom And Gloom Extra-Light as they are really pussies when it comes to looking outside their rose colored glasses, is the wailing and gnashing of teeth about out of control consumer culture.  Oh, golly, we just live to go shopping.  Oh mercy sakes alive, we are strip mining the planet for our disposable crap.  Oy vey, what a shallow and unworthy existence we sleep walk through, unceasing consumers until after our death ( one assumedly pre-purchased a coffin prior to kicking it ).  Now, far be it from me is disagree with any of the above.  Hell, I’m sure I’ve made similar type statements.   But everyone needs to stop, take a deep breath and think about this for a second.  It isn’t just that Americans are filthy pigs, sucking up all the globes resources to wallow in luxury.  We are, but there is a simply reason for it other than our lack of any national character.  Consumerism is just the natural end progression of the carbon fuel age.  If the Soviets or the Germans or the Japanese had won the second world war, they would be consuming 25% of all the petroleum produced ( and we would be a third world nation being exploited for our mineral wealth ), importing disposable goods by the cubic mile and facing an obesity epidemic ( have you seen recent pictures of Hillary?  My good god baby Jesus, that bitch has put on the pounds.  I wouldn’t hump her with YOUR junk ). 
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I’m not excusing our lack of will to fight our addiction, but I wonder if anyone could have done so?  This is surplus energy and wealth on a lever never seen by rulers in antiquity.  If you were offered the chance to eat a never ending buffet, wallow in temperature controlled climate year round, and sampling the flesh of a harem, you would say no?  Okay, the harem part might be a stretch even as our morals have gone to hell and we rut pretty indiscriminately, but you get my drift.  Most of us have already chosen to sell our souls for the above listed comforts, and even those who see it refuse to give it up ( “I’ll start living primitive AFTER the collapse and not a moment sooner” ).  No one made us choose this life, I’m not assigning victim status here.  But we are now trapped and there is no going back until it all crashes.  Because our entire society has morphed this way, fed from the petroleum spigot.  Now our civilizations very survival depends of this business as usual.  There will be no change until we fall off the cliff.  We’ve talked of this before.  Millions and millions have a vested interest in absolutely nothing changing ( would you give up you Social Security if it was 80% of your monthly income?  Would you give up your marriage, house and car to save the ozone layer?  ).
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But today, let’s focus on how this all happened.  The Industrial Age started not because a few bright boys figured out steam power but because they discovered coal.  Carbon fuels are basically mule teams in a gallon gasoline jug ( or a bushel basket of coal, or a microscopic mote of uranium ).  The exponential increase in surplus energy was simply staggering.  And all this energy, to be transferred to wealth, needed to be burned.  All our wealth comes from consuming a nonrenewable resource.  It wasn’t even like we wanted to turn the energy into something ( for instance, lumber into a ship to transport things ).  We did, but then we destroyed that thing and built another.  It boils down to pissing away the best fuel source ever discovered.  The average north hemisphere inhabitant by and large shared in a small portion of that wealth, but that wasn’t enough.  We had to create ten times the population to share in it, plus we had to redefine the concept of rich, plus we needed hundreds of supreme boondoggles of energy consumption such as the moon landing and the interstate system, all to just get to the point where we burned up half the oil and coal ( the easy to get parts, of course ).  And that was all because the Industrial Revolution was based on profit from taking over household production and substituting it with consumption.  For want of a cheap garment, the world full of consumers was born.
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Cheap clothing never happened before carbon fuels.  Clothing was expensive and labor intensive ( one of the results as plant fiber competing with food ).  So each item was dear.  Now, add in the difficulty of bathing.  Not because our ancestors were filthy rotten animals, but because heating fuel was not an option for the poor.  Hell, cooking fuel was a hard enough resource to acquire.  They didn’t often bathe in cold climates because it would literally kill them if heat wasn’t available.  So their clothing got a bit rank and infested ( they had few changes of clothing ).  Imaging the wonder of the new things called “factories” churning out cheap clothing ( it wasn’t necessarily the machine produced fabric that made it possible, but also the new machines that processed the plant fibers ).  No wonder the bulk of the population embraced the process that produced such a thing.  And from there it was down hill.  First clothing went from handmade to factory made ( with the sudden new need for cash ), then slowly one by one ALL domestic once-free products and services ( free as in the need for money, it was plenty expensive labor wise ) went from the home to the factory.  And today we are at a place were money has taken over everything once produced for free.  Including our food.  It was a system that had to expand, based on money lending for factories and over production based on the need to pay back the interest.  Once a market became saturated with consumer items, you had to move on to another item or service.  The whole thing is rather natural once you look at it this way.  So go shopping and quit worrying about it.  It will all be over soon enough and we can go back to three baths each winter, scratching at our nits.
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5 comments:

  1. Knowing human nature we will be racing those lice, not just scratching at them.

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  2. Lord Bison;

    Thank You for nailing the idea that once everything goes South in a permanent way, that bathing will take a back seat to producing food and just trying to stay alive. However using history as a guide, even as late as the middle of the twentieth century, communal bath houses were financially viable. Not to say that in the last great scramble for the world's remaining resources will something resembling community exist, who knows, however to use Kunstler's two novels as a guide of a probable future, it wouldn't be too difficult to heat water using some kind of fuel (I've used dried camel dung, a time or two down-range) for bathing at least twice a week. In my grandfather's day back in the Great Depression I, he told me that bath day was normally on Saturday Evening, since most still went to Church on Sunday Morning, and then again on Wednesday Evening to last until the Saturday Evening bath. Since he was a dirt poor citrus and poultry farmer, I reckon he knew what he was talking about. So I'll reckon that anyone worth his salt has best invest in a quality cast iron enameled tub and do it before every other butt-clown attempts to do the same.

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  3. Nightshift here.....truer words were never posted. I agree and it will be interesting. Yes the collapse is here but TPTB are propping up the economy and hiding the fact that alot of folks are truely there already. I see it around me. I heed much of your wisdom, although I still maintain the buxom wife....sorry.

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  4. Good article today.. Thanks

    -DSM

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  5. A helluva lot of Yankees are going to freeze to death if (when ?) the grid goes down for good during the winter months. I'm guessing a huge influx of them migrating south will be the result. Or maybe they will starve to death 1st.

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