What are we to make of the frenzied Black Friday mobs wielding elbows and even pepper spray as they scramble for merchandise? It relates directly to George Carlin's brilliant rap about 'stuff,' but takes it a step farther. These people want the stuff so badly they to line up outside the store door ready to rumble. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtX3yZmzfUU
Some of us can resist the urge to get more stuff, but to fired up Black Friday shoppers new stuff is a narcotic. Wow, that’s good. Let’s get some more. But more is not enough, so they want it cheaper. They plan Black Friday shopping like a military campaign and twist joyful holidays into vicious bouts of rapacious foraging.
The Koch brothers have $30 billion worth of stuff and more pouring in all the time. Yet the thought of paying tax on any of it horrifies them so obsessively that they spend millions in an effort to keep others from acquiring health care, housing, education, or union jobs. They fund tax-subsidized think tanks that send mercenaries out to Fox, CNBC, CNN, or anywhere they can find a crowd to peddle their spiel that the super-wealthy must not be disturbed.
The Kochs and others like them are no different than the woman with the pepper-spray, but they wield it on a more hurtful level. You can wash out pepper spray, but having to sleep in a cardboard box or seeing all your required classes filled before you can register for them is tougher to solve.
Clearly there’s a spiritual and intellectual chasm here that people addicted to stuff can’t fill with more stuff. They need to understand that their goal isn’t stuff per se. It’s happiness. But can they really find happiness by having giant, high-def TVs in every room?
It’s most unlikely that the cure to our problems, as a former president famously told us -- is to go out and shop. Just as it won’t foil terrorists, neither will it satisfy a hole in the soul. What we need is education -- the kind that prepares us to better analyze and deal with advertising and other forms of propaganda that seek to turn us into robot consumers.
The purpose of education is not to fill the latest labor needs of global corporations. It’s to help us think. Thinkers prepared with knowledge -- not weirdness and greed masquerading as knowledge -- make better citizens and better contributors to the economy as well.
Instead we descend deeper into a two-tiered system made up of grasping, unfulfilled masses and moneyed aristocrats whose wheeling and dealing grants them higher-grade stuff. In many ways the privileged beings at the top of the socioeconomic scale are just as screwed as the restless, yearning masses beneath them, with both groups chasing happiness by scheming to get bigger helpings of stuff. Of course some of us find firmer ground and better ways to get along. We learn to defend ourselves against misinformation by holding it up to the light of cognitive thought.
The relentless, false mantra that government spending equals waste, repeated by Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich, etc. tells us we don’t need access to real knowledge or independent thinking and shouldn’t bother to invest in it. And there’s no need, they tell us (though they don’t quite spell it out) to monitor the poison in air, water, food, or medication. Or for airplane inspectors, postal workers, teachers or clean, dependable transit. And, they tell us, if we fire the people who fill these functions, that would boost our economy and get us more stuff. Everything, they say, is simple and all we need to know can be found in their narratives. Just listen, obey, and go after that stuff.
Causes Ivan Goldman Supports
American Heart Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Beit T'Shuvah Recovery Program