Screw Their “Strong Consumer Spending” Reports
Consumerism is killing us.
I read dozens of resources to publish my articles. I read liberal media, conservative media, and scientific papers. I want to read everything and understand everything. I let my questions take me wherever they need to go. I want to cut through the news, and reveal what it means, how everything connects.
I have read hundreds of books in my life that dealt with topics ranging from the delicate wonder of life in the Arctic (Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams), to zealot missionaries who did vast damage to native people in the tropics of Congo (Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible). I’ve read the words of those who bore witness to terrible wars (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five). I’ve read of the victims of CIA assisted overthrows of governments and the deaths, imprisonments, and torture of tens of thousands of civilians in South America (Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine). I am deeply aware that our country has been built on genocide, slavery, and war, and continues to be (Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States). I highly recommend these books, older, but forever relevant, as are all books made great by revealing truth.
As I write, America is assisting Israel on a mission of genocide to maintain empire at any cost, including the deaths of thousands of babies, children, women, and elderly crushed under rubble, or the price paid by survivors, permanently physically and emotionally maimed, with at least some likelihood of being radicalized, perpetuating the gruesome cycle.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”
When I write, I realize it’s becoming increasingly dangerous to tell the truth. Patriotism isn’t just protecting your country when it’s under physical attack. Patriotism is also the courage to speak out when truth is threatened from within by lies, propaganda, and fascism.
I write because as Napoleon Bonaparte said:
“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”
The enemy well understands the power of words, twisting them without shame, and the words of responsible writers and journalists are the greatest protector of freedom.
This article is inspired by anger I feel over the vapid words in my headline, “Strong Consumer Spending,” written in a Bloomberg email I received as if that’s a panacea for all that ails us. Specifically, it said, “...while the labor market has slowed, it’s still enough to support strong consumer spending.” I am sick to death of those three words, because death is exactly what they’re bringing. That email is exactly what I expect of Bloomberg’s version of journalism in service to capitalism.
Unfortunately, capitalism triumphs over examination of the facts, or sanity.
Charlottesville riot 2018. There were “very fine people” on both sides. Here’s a few.
After 911, before we defied the Geneva Conventions by invading a country which had not attacked us, and resorted to torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, all crimes against humanity that created a deeper hatred of our country in the Middle East, I remember with utter contempt the advertising on television during that time, the flag waving, and the two-bit hucksters extolling us to buy stuff. We’ll show those terrorists, yeah, they can’t stop America. We’ll prove it by buying cars, trucks, refrigerators, and mindless piles of crap on QVC, made by slave children in China. Yeah, go America, go. Fuck the towel heads.
Hence, my new national slogan to replace land of the free and home of the brave. “Buy, buy, buy, until you die, die, die.”
I’m rewriting the Star Spangled Banner as well. “Oh! Say can you see, that sale sign over there?”
I seem to have a poisonwood pen, today.
My main topic is the #ClimateEmergency, because it is the existential threat of all human time, the one becoming guaranteed to take us down, even though we have somehow managed to not annihilate ourselves in a planet wide nuclear cloud. The idea of the economy continuing on a path of never-ending consumption is organized, systemic insanity, by a handful who pollute our bodies, undermine our mental health, and now threaten our very survival, from the rapid breakdown of an inhabitable Earth for our species, and a million other worthy creatures. We’re going to degrow one way or another, either with a plan to soften the transition and profoundly change our lives for the better, (article here), or nature’s way, which involves setting fire to, drowning, and starving civilization.
A poster child for air quality, 2023. NYC as Canada burned an area equivalent to the state of North Dakota and lost five trillion trees. Photo: Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo.
The powerful want us to believe we are powerless. This is NOT true. It’s a question of whether we have the courage to act, to self-sacrifice, to accept that some of us, maybe hundreds of thousands of us or more, are going to be arrested, imprisoned, or possibly even die. To not take these actions will result in far more deaths, possibly billions. Policymakers are clamping down hard on climate protestors in Europe, and chilling laws protecting oil infrastructure and carrying harsh penalties for protests here are being enacted in numerous states. Yet, we must demand the changes we need for a future on our planet, it doesn’t belong to billionaires and their lackeys who have no intention of changing the status quo. They talk about a “green” economy that’s dependent on inherently filthy mining and massive water use in areas of severe drought, that persecutes the indigenous and poor once again, while continuing to approve new oil drilling projects (Prime Minister Rishi Sunak just approved 27 new permits in the North Sea and Biden is pushing inherently leaky LNG terminals in the Gulf), whose emissions will dwarf even the awful Willow oil drilling project in Alaska. They promote carbon credit scams, and promise carbon capture technology as a key to limiting global warming to 1.5°C, a proven failure in the coal industry, and regardless, impossible to implement at a meaningful scale in the rapidly shrinking timeframe we have, to make the difference we need. Hell, they can’t even be bothered to stop burning coal.
They pretend our mindless, soul sucking consumption can go on forever. They want us brainwashed, and they spend billions on advertising every year to make sure we are. We buy toilet paper made from virgin monocultural tree plantations, devoid of biodiversity, based on the recommendations of cartoon animated bears. Can it get any dumber? They track us online and collect our data. They know our physical location every minute of every day. They feed us information that takes us further and further away from reality, from living as human beings in the real world, reducing our thoughts and emotions to emojis on a screen. It’s sick. They use these tools to control us, and now they have generative AI in their arsenal, poised to make fact and fiction hard to discern for even people like me, who live this shit every waking hour, keeping tabs. This article on generative AI, a guest post from Birgitte Rasine’s erudite blog, is long, but a must-read.
The Conquest Knight XV, what a dream, grunt, grunt, moan, moan. Sorry, I’ll stop that. This fully armored bullet proof vehicle weighs 13,000 pounds. Stand back, Jack.
It’s true that the wealthiest on the planet emit by far most of the greenhouse gasses, not just by their private jets, mansions, and gas guzzling armored vehicles to protect themselves from us, but even more destructively their investments in planet destroying industry and finance. That’s why we’re told whatever we peons do won’t make a difference.
They’re lying. They’re lying because they’re afraid of us. They know if we unite, they can be stopped. They’re building and purchasing bunkers for when it all goes sideways. Check these out. They’re built in nuclear hardened former Atlas missile silos. The truth is, ultimately we have control, if we have the vision and courage to take it. We see the kids and the scientists out there on the front lines now, protesting and getting arrested. We need that. It’s an essential part of stopping this system of death. Protesting isn’t for everyone, but there are other important roles to play as well. For me, writing and raising awareness is my primary protective act.
Another way we can grind the whole machine to a halt is by simply exercising our purchasing power. The wealthy need our money to carry out their plans, and we can take that away.
Haven’t we noticed how material stuff leaves us empty and disappointed, as either it breaks or becomes quickly obsolete from cynically planned product cycles? The new iPhone costs $1500. It does the same thing the last one did. One hand in your pocket, and the other one fiddling with your brain. Why do we buy their crap? Because it’s an addiction created by drilling our heads. They’ve convinced some freedom is a gun and a cheeseburger. They’re both bad for us, and now there are people walking around who will kill you over either one.
Our purchases make us financial slaves and are literally creating an open-air, planetary gas chamber. Our purchases can also watch and track us. It’s not just your computer and phone. It’s your car, your smart TV, your smart refrigerator, your smart washer and dryer. Let’s hope your child’s chipped, microphone and camera driven stuffed bunny doesn’t get hacked. The surveillance state has arrived and burrowed in. Neuralink brain chip from Elon Musk, anyone? 1500 animals died brutally in its development for our benefit. Won’t it be convenient when Elon can just turn us off with a software command? Oh, oh, powering you down now, Geoff. You talk too much.
More grossness. A mindless, culture free floating carbon nightmare, tarted up like a hooker, “steaming” its way into the sunset, a fitting metaphor.
Every purchase we make is another pound of carbon dioxide in the air. Every car vacation. Every flight. Every drunken Royal Caribbean cruise. In terms of food, red meat is the worst, a double whammy. Not only do cows emit massive amounts of methane, the deforestation they drive eliminates the carbon sink of trees, particularly in the Amazon, which is in danger of becoming a net carbon emitter. So let’s cut down on beef. I haven’t eaten it in years, and I don’t miss it. Eat vegetarian or even vegan a couple of nights a week. I have a pot of bean soup on the stove right now. Decrease your dairy. Production of most cheese involves cows. I’ve replaced cow milk with oat milk. I like almond milk better, but it takes far more water to produce and California is in historical drought. It’s a small sacrifice I don’t think about anymore.
Boycott needless consumption. You don’t have to go crazy walking around in sandwich boards, annoying people. If I had sandwich boards, I would probably smack someone with them, so no sandwich boards for me. Do stop buying anything that’s non-essential. You can also choose to buy second hand, to not contribute to new manufacturing. My favorite piece of furniture is a mid 1800s jelly cupboard I bought from my retired farmer friend Stanley, who also allowed me to haul thousands of pounds of rocks from his fields in my ratty second hand pickup truck, to build rock walls on my 1840 house property. Many projects involved salvage centers, to find period correct stuff to build closets and cabinets. It was a treasure hunt, not a corporate Home Depot experience to purchase crummy hollow plastic doors.
Strong consumer spending is the old world, one only made possible by the short-lived discovery of fossil fuels and exploitation of billions of people. Consumption is a lame model that doesn’t fill our hearts and minds, and divides us. Moving to renewables is necessary, but we must minimize that, as it brings its own social and ecological destruction. If we’re to have a future, we must learn to walk lightly on this planet, our greatest gift.
Stocks, which Bloomberg covers well, carry the warning, “Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.” However, our behavior and continued consumption does carry guaranteed results. The worship of consumer spending is killing the planet. We must recognize and fight those who understand nothing but money and power.