A Disposable Future

IMAG0708 I wanted to write something of my thoughts, about what I feels is an odd change in us and our thinking. Personal and corporate. I’ll start with family. My mother is careful with all she has. When I think about her kitchen, there are things my eyes are drawn to, that have been around for decades. An example of that is a set of knives. I’ve used knives as a professional, and these are great.  They are also, over 40 years. old. I find that amazing, because I think we all know now, that the Ginsu with all the wonderful advertising  through commercials and infomercials, are a waste of 20 bucks. That’s still true, no matter how much free plastic they give you with it. To send it back under its lifetime warranty, a waste of time. Why a waste of time?  Because all you get back is another crappy knife. I think this shows nicely, the change we’ve gone through, in what is actually a very short time.

I believe this says something about where we are going, as we slip into our self imposed future. A disposable future . The rise of the infomercial age and beyond.

I remember when you bought something, not already thinking about your next something.  This is caused by, the changed expectations we now have for our purchases. Actually planning to spend  money on the same type of product again, as soon as we buy or finance our new “Thing”. Why?  We know, even though no one said a word, that what we spent our money on won’t last.

Cellphones are on two year contracts, which is good because you can’t  rely on it lasting longer. Televisions are made to last 5 years. Cars 5-7 years, for a regular driver. Clothing’s made to fall apart, permeates the market. But that’s really not the manufacturers.

In the late 70’s early 80’s advertising and marketing professionals, created this market of lowered expectations. It appears, as our consumer confidence waned in American made goods, it became easier to allow the overseas manufacturers to flooded our markets with goods. Not all of these products were poorly made, but a great many were.

Then pop culture, with its quickening pace and the jaded new generation of consumer, gained purchasing power. Consumers who grew up with no expectation of reliable goods. When they met our economy full on, the mix of the two, consumer and manufacturers, truly lowered the perceived standard of quality and construction. As a  business, why strive to make a quality, long lasting product at a good value, if none of your customer have that expectation of a product?  You meet the quality the consumer expects, and keep your costs, and the consumers cost, down. The theory being, if your customer only expects to buy crap, and does so, give them crap.

Remember, the only responsibility business has is to their stockholders, even if they are considered “persons”. A concept, I never seem to be able to wrap my head around.

I think with crappy products, we as Americans should be happy all these poorly made goods don’t come from here.  (most of our manufacturing base is gone). We need to stop wasting our money, encouraging this behavior from consumers, corporations, and manufactures. I like the idea of buying American, but that’s not now possible in our new world economy. So, I’d like us to be “Smart Consumers”. When I say that, I’m not so much thinking about big-ticket items, as I believe most of us at least try to make quality decisions there. Trying, is all I ask.

Where I think we fail is in everyday items. I make jokes about dollar stores. I shop there myself, but still I feel the same. I see a ton of things that will be tossed away. Why not buy a pancake spatula that will last, and won’t melt the third time you use it? Doing this is only causing  you go spend another dollar for a new one. And trust me, that new one will do just the same as the first. I really feel, we would be better off making more quality goods and more quality durable goods. Even if they cost more, like the old Curtis Mathes Televisions.

I’d like a manufacturing base returned to us, that was more than building machines of war. I’d like to have a better export to offer, than Hollywood movies. I’d like to bring back an expectation in reliable goods, and fill that niche with our countries high quality manufactured goods. I believe we would succeed in the world market, even with higher priced product, because of the quality and durability. It’s possible, because we know we can back those goods, with a promise of quality and service. Because of our pride, knowing we make the best products. There is pride in being able to say, “Yes our products are the most expensive in the world, but unlike the others, ours are darn well worth the price”. I don’t want us to continue down the path we’re on, to our self imposed, “Disposable Future”.

Relationships Money and Violence

I’m not a fighter, in my relationships. I don’t yell rage or menace my partner, when there is friction. I would never raise my hand or strike my companion. Unfortunately my ways aren’t the ways of all men. I would even say the problem of abuse, and issues that can be the catalyst for abuse, are on the rise. I certainly don’t have any statistical proof of my supposition. It’s more a visceral response, based on what I see.

There is very little that will stress a relationship more, than difficulties with finances. With conditions as they are, I imagine there are more stressed relationships than there were 4 or 5 years ago. The true assessment of this hypothesis, I’ve done with my eyes and ears, when out in public and at home. I take what I observe today, then compare to memories of similar experiences in my past.

I’m not one to get out much, but like everyone else I must shop. This is a great time to observe the interactions of couples shopping together, and they are a dime a dozen. Also, shopping requires money, so the stress dynamic is in play.

The main arguments on the isles seem to come from impulse and convenience items or goods that are intoxicating. I’d put 1/3 of the shopping couples conflicts, in the intoxicant category. And yes, here it’s usually the female of the couple appealing for temperance. So with this observation, I can look at other situations and see if the same dynamic applies.

I can’t say I’m blessed, as a man in his mid-forties, with teenage as neighbors. I am though, blessed with much activity to draw in and draw on, with my living arrangements. I also think looking at the interactions of young couples, just learning about what real relationship require, is an excellent time to see the reality of monetary stresses at their base level. Young people having less money than established adults, generally speaking, creates a volatile environment to monitor.

I think it might be tradition, or even an inbred sense of responsibility, but this type of stress taints the mans behavior, more so than the female. Although this is merely my personal observation. I believe this is where the behaviors come into play, that shame men on the whole. This too is only my observation however, in the area of yelling I believe the woman have the men beat on this action. It’s easily though, the most socially acceptable of the behaviors. As for rage, that goes to the men, from the sound that comes through my living room wall. Finally we have menace in the mix. This is an action that leads to the domestic violence that sickens me, and that I deplore.

I know the monetary stress is taking its toll. I know this because, the issue has seeped through my walls. I know it’s gone too far for a couple, when there financial issues wake me in the night. I see the relationship is at a tragic point, or should be, when I’m reaching for the phone, wondering if I should make a call. And, it’s completely beyond repair, when I’ve dial the police, because the slam against my wall had me thinking, I was going to have a house guest.

It’s amazing though, that a males ego and pride can lead to such anger, as well as violence. To me a difficult challenge should be met by a coming together. Obstacles should bring to a couple, unity of purpose. The roll of help-mate not hurt-mate, should be the practice of both parties. That though, was not the experience of last night.

Are these abusive practices on the rise? Yes, I believe they are in the younger generations. Whether it’s a lack of two parent families, because of divorce, or a step back from two parent families traditional roles, there seems to be an unwanted result. Possibly it’s a product of media influence. Whatever it is, I don’t like the trend I see, or the future it represents. I also feel, outcomes like last night, give men on the whole a bad name. And frankly I don’t think the penalties for such behavior go far enough. I’m not arguing for harsher sentences. I am though asking other men who aren’t abusers to shun those who are. To look at your group of buddies, and remove from your circle those who are giving you a bad name. Don’t make excuses. Don’t listen to their justifications, as there aren’t any. In the words of Isaac Asimov “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”.


Playing Like Selfish Children

What the hell is going on? Has the world lost its mind? Is this a worldwide push for total destruction? I can see nothing but the ignorance of pride. The, I must get mine before you get yours, greed, has gone national. With all parties concerned, digging in their heels.

We as individual nations, are now playing like selfish children on the play ground, arguing over who gets to use the basketball and hoop. What’s needed is a bit of detention time, writing lines such as, “We shall not force our imperialism on populations, through military conquest”. Even if those lines only served to keep those in detention, from racing to destroy the world.

I’ve stated it before, and I’ll say it again. If our countries had mothers, we’d all be better off. With the recent behaviors of many nations, a mother chewing some ass might help with an attitude adjustment. And one is truly needed. All the skills we’re taught in our first lessons, like respect and sharing, are completely absent from the present conversations and actions taken by one country or group over another, all around the world today.

If all we ever needed to know, we actually learned in kindergarten. Groups and governments must have failed, this most basic of all lesson. Knowing this is the case, I understand why our world seems to be run by the angry selfish and retarded. What we have, might need a few cracks with the kitchens wooden spoon. A little physical reminder to shape up fly right, and get those priorities straight. Because, at this point the childish behavior and selfishness, is a hindrance not a help.

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