Re: Ground Zero mosque - no problemo!



On 06/08/2010 21:20, DGDevin wrote:

Many of the framers of the Constitution had seminary training and it is
probably fair to say the majority of them were religious (as were most
people at that that time). Yet they created a Constitution in which
religious elements are conspicuous by their absence--that should tell us
something, Yet many Americans today think what the nation really needs is to
be governed on Christian religious lines which is in sharp contrast to what
the founders of the nation actually put in the Constitution.

The 'One Nation Under God' on the $1 note is often referred to, although it is surprising how few people are aware of the Masonic symbolism. I suspect the symbolism is far more telling than the words themselves.

Mindless consumption is revolting, yet on the other hand I don't want some
bureaucrat telling me what I can or cannot buy. We generally keep things
until they're worn-out around here, we just got a new home-theatre receiver
because the old one had stopped working and was apparently unrepairable for
practical purposes. But we kept the old speakers and hooked up the same CD
and DVD players to the new hardware. Maybe that's why we don't have a
mortgage or auto loans or any other debts--we pay as we go as opposed to the
popular practice of using credit cards for every new gadget that hits the
market.

One thing I dislike about consumerism is the greed and wastage involved. It seems to me that up until around the 1950s and beyond, things were made to last and they would last a lifetime or more. These days, things are built to last several years (or, at the very least, until the end of the guarantee period) and have built-in redundancy. Anything that is built to truly last is an expensive luxury item these days, whereas it was previously the standard to which any non-consumer durable was designed and made.

Some of this is a result of technology improving and certain things becoming obsolete as a result, which is understandable. For example, I never keep a mobile 'phone for more than two years because Vodafone will give me the latest upgrade for free when I renew my contract, as long as subscribe to a tariff that is profitable for them. Meanwhile, I still prefer a CRT television, do not possess Blu-Ray technology and try to keep a computer for at least five years.

The problem I have with consumerism can be exemplified by looking at a company like Gillette. They helped to pioneer the safety razor, made their razors to last and made most of their profit on blades. As soon as their patent expired, they soon learned that they could not corner the market because other companies were free to make compatible blades (and razors) that competed with theirs. In order to tackle this, they started to produce cartridge razors that could only use Gillette blades. They could sell the razor at a loss in order to tempt people to buy their product because the subsequent profit they would make from the sale of blades mattered far more. (I understand that this was the first example of 'loss leader' marketing so beloved by printer manufacturers and mobile 'phone network operators today.) As soon as their patent expired, they would introduce a newer razor, redesigned to take an entirely new cartridge, and charge even more for a new and 'improved' razor. They sold two-blade razors as an improvement, added a 'lubra-strip' (TM), went up to three blades, added a piece of rubber that was supposed to stretch the skin for a closer shave and then brought out a four-bladed razor and then another that also takes batteries! Each time, of course, the cost of the blades rose even higher.

When Gillette brought out the Quattro, I bought a supermarket OEM razor, which used cheaper blades that were much sharper than Gillette's offerings. Since then, I have thrown out all of my cartridge razors and use double-edged safety razors with the original style blades that are far superior to anything else on the market and that cost significantly less as well. As a result, there is no wastage of plastic and the cardboard packets and steel blades are recyclable.

It seems to me that consumerism involves tricking the consumer into believing that a newer product is going to give them a much better experience, with all the marketing and advertising that goes into promoting that idea. Meanwhile, people are buying the same product over and over while the shareholders are getting richer, resources are becoming more scarce and waste and pollution increases. It also seems to me that it is not so much that products are competing (which was always meant to be one of the benefits of Capitalism) but that the competition is to see who can best market their product and create the most dependency on said product.

Other examples alongside Gillette would be Microsoft and Apple...
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