Monday, July 21, 2008

13 ways to Promote Consumption

When the entire economy depends on infinite growth, it is important to remind the consumers of their primary job - buying expensive stuff and wasting energy. Here are some highly effective methods to promote these very behaviors.

1. Design the built environment properly

No house should have a bike rack, a clothesline, or a Sun Oven. Homes should be far from anything useful and require maximum energy usage. Design highways, not public transport and bicycle lanes. Power stations, not solar panels. Make it difficult for consumers to be energy efficient, use less stuff and burn less gasoline. Make them spend tons of time and energy on research if they want to do something differently. Let them know: It's so much easier just to use what's already there!

2. Break up familes

Families should be as separated as possible - no more living in close proximity to each other, and definitely not 3 or 4 generations in one household. Spread them out! This way, when families part ways, a whole household of things must be purchased - furniture, lawn equipment, linens, kitchenware, tools, decorations. Even items used only once or twice per year will be purchased. Isolation from family also promotes consumption of leisure and entertainment goods. Plus, they will need to purchase frequent flights to visit Grandma and Pa. Bonus!

3. Promote ignorance and specialization

Make sure the consumers know that they should specialize in one thing - their job - and buy products or pay other people to do everything else.

Remember, for every problem, there is a product or a service. Here's a list of things the consumers should not know:

  • How to fix things.

  • How to grow food.

  • How to cook bake or sew.

  • How to calculate the true costs of maintenance of appliances, cars, homes.

  • How to figure the cost of the interest on credit cards, mortgage, the auto note.
4. Stimulate fashion

Anything that is visible to others is a good candidate to be replaced every 3 or 4 years. Clothing, the color of paint, the material for countertops, carpet, and especially cars. Since cars can easily last 15 years, fashion is especially important!

5. Create social expectations

When our consumer shows up to work, they should be expected to look and smell a certain way. We undertand that this requires soap, facial soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deoderant, razors, shaving gel, hair dryers, hair gel, mascara, nail polish, toilet paper, tampons, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Not to mention cover up makeup, lipstick, eye makeup, base, powder, lip liners, eyeliners, eyelash curlers, and perfume as well. Ha ha ha ha ha!

When our consumer buys a house, it (and especially the yard) should be expected to look and function a certain way. The lawn requires a trimmer, a mower, a fertilizer spreader, fertilizer, pre-emergent, water hoses, a sprinkler, pesticides, herbicides. The house needs updated kitchen and bathrooms and floors, appliances, cleaning agents, new furniture, decorations, art, entertainment system. It's something new every year. Trust me folks, it's like printing money.

6. Design products with obsolescence in mind

Make sure that technology changes frequently. After 5 or 6 years, new programs won't work on the old computer any more. And what use is a VCR or tape player now?

Design things so that they break after a certain period of time. They might not have to, if they were made well, without cheap plastic parts. What's the point in fixing broken things when it costs more to fix them as it does to buy one brand new?

7. Provide cheap credit

Why wait to buy something when you can have it now instead? If we have done our jobs properly, our consumers can't figure out the cost of the interest, so they don't even really know how much they are paying. (Do you know what the true cost of the mortgage of a $250,000 house over the course of a 30-year mortgage at 6%? It's $539,000. That's called a PROFIT.)

8. Send women to the workplace and expect a 10-hour day

With mothers working, families have to purchase daycare, Pampers and formula. With 2 people working long hours, there is less time to cook meals at home, cook meals from scratch, clean the house, do the yardwork, grow a garden, shop for bargains - and there is more money to pay someone else to do these things instead.

9. Kill off public places and community events

In many places, if you want to be around people, that literally means paying to go somewhere, or exposing yourself to lots of tempting shopping opportunities. And people do need to be around people. This is why teenagers hang out at the mall all day long. There's no real public equivalent anymore.

Or we could encourage the consumer to just watch or interact with people electronically. So feather their nest at home with computers, entertainment centers, media rooms (!!!), cable television, high-speed internet, stocked liquor cabinets, etc. etc. etc.

10. Sell disposables

An easy way to get people to buy more is to make something only worth using once. So sell them paper towels instead of rags, Kleenex instead of handkerchiefs, tampons and pads instead of Divas and Lunapads, toilet paper instead of cloth wipes. These are so prevalent now that no one can even imagine the alternatives. Good job, folks!

11. Isolate people and make them anxious and afraid

Give them more of what they don't need, and less of what they do need. Less time with families, less interesting work, less nutritious food, but more anxiety about the kid's education, Grandpa's health, retirement, the state of the economy, the dying planet.

How will they treat themselves right? How will they get through the day with all these worries and not enough fun and relaxation, no interesting conversation about things that matter, no time to spend with friends? Will they buy a latte and a martini, or Prozac and a gym membership? Maybe they need a manicure and some highlights in their hair. A snazzy new car or a kitchen remodel might make them feel better. But really, the best thing would be a vacation, or a house in the country. If they have to take on loans or pay with credit, all the better.

12. Structure their lives

Everyone knows how life is supposed to look. First you go to high school, then college. Of course, then you need a job and a new car. Then you get married, have kids, buy a house (not necessarily in that order). If you can associate huge, expensive costs with all these things that people "must" do to live like normal middle-class folk, you've won half the battle! Why, by the time they get out of college they owe us 10 years of debt service. And what GENIUS came up with the requirement to spend $20,000 on one day of celebration? We owe that guy, big time.

13. Sell them "Health" care

If we've done our job properly, people will be reeling from all the toxins in the environment, lack of nutritious organic food, stress, and no time to take care of themselves. Just one more opportunity to sock it to them twice - with insurance and health care!

This is also a clever way to keep them where they belong - working for us. Trust me, they will never be able to leave a job with health care benefits once they have kids. Keep them on the treadmill, ok?

Seriously, if we can make people miserable by starting them off in debt, working them to death, while expecting that they look and act a certain way, and making sure they don't know any different, we can lay back and watch the money roll in.


MeadowLark said...

We took a different route and told our tri-lingual, high gpa, great S.A.T. kid to diversify. Because "go to school and get a job" isn't that viable anymore.

So he's worked at the farmer's market, done some construction, is planning for a missions trip, is currently fighting fire in NoCal, learned to slaughter chickens... Well, you get the point. As parents, people really look at us funny that our "promising" student is not "going to college". We'd prefer him to be able to fend for himself.

As far as #11, that's how our government is going to tip over into fascism (more than it has). We're all so "afraid" all the time.

Good list. Too true.

Hausfrau said...

Good job, meadowlark! Besides, your son can always decide if he wants to go to college later.... I wish I had waited until I had been out in the workforce awhile before I went to college. But that just wasn't how things were done ;).

MeadowLark said...

Out of curiosity, where do you put a "college education" these days? Would you at all encourage your child to pursue it (and the loans required) for anything besides knowledge? Unless they had a very specific (doctor, vet, that kind of thing) career goal in mind. But just the whole "liberal arts" thing?

I say no. I just don't see that the world is set up to reward today's college education. It used to be that thinking was prized and knowledge was gathered at college... I'm not so sure that's true these days.

What sez you?

Lewru said...

On Feb 17, 2009 your TV may become JUST A BOX! Unless you either:
a) buy a brand new digital television set
b) upgrade to cable
c) spend money on a converter box
d) ...just give us cash...

Fear, people! Fear! You're not good enough unless your stuff is good enough! You're not okay. You're not acceptable! You're too poor, fat, lazy, insecure, out of fashion, etc. etc.

There was a fascinating class at OU about consumerism and how "problems" like large pores, stinky feet, blackheads, etc., were created and marketed to a (then) scared public. BOO!!!

Great post, Frau. You funny!

Tara said...

I work for a catering/special events company. A very large portion of our business is weddings. Talk about manufactured "needs"...sheesh. I'm fairly certain that the wedding industry has cornered that market.

And I am a complete anomoly in this business. SO unfashionable. :)

Lewru - that class does sound fascinating!

LisaZ said...

I am thinking very differently about college these days, too. Now that "everyone" is doing it, going to college that is, the value of a college education just doesn't seem as high as it once did. Mind you, I'm so grateful for my education, but the cost of it (1988 to 1992) was substantial and in fact limited rather than expanded my opportunities when I graduated.

We're homeschooling our kids and hope we are preparing them for whatever makes sense to them when they're adults. Whether college, travel, self-sufficient living, volunteering, etc. we hope they are open-minded and in touch with what they want to do--not just ready to maintain the status quo and do what everyone else is doing.

Of course, with peak oil and economic collapse imminent, who knows what the world will be like in 6-8 years when our kids are new adults? We're trying to prep for that, too...

Lisa in MN

Hausfrau said...

Meadowlark - that is so far away for us... I'm anticipating a whole different world then. If my son was grown now, I would encourage him to get real world experience, wait a few years and see if college would actually benefit him, then see if it was worth it.

MeadowLark said...

You have a good voice that's heard... can you comment on my question about kids.

And since you actually WRITE, why don't you fix it up and make it sound bright!

I am so curious as to what people are telling their children as far as sustainability and peak oil.


Verde said...

I've had visiting family this week. There is such pressure that we aren't normal. I'm sure they are thinking we are into some cultish behavior. My parents actually worried that our garden was too big - again not normal - and yet we are still very much "attached" to all you have written - it's just that we're trying to unattach.

Tara said...

Verde, welcome to the club! Our families (with the sole exception of my brother, who totally gets it) think we're complete survivalist freaks at worst, and "quirky" but mildly embarrassing at best. I don't think there's anything we can do about it, so I've resigned myself to acceptance.

MeadowLark said...

Verde and Tara, it could be worse: my husband and daughter both think that about me. And our friends say "that's why we love you... you're so funny".

Sigh. :)

Melissa said...

I'm in the middle of planning a wedding so that one is fresh in my mind. We do want to do the gathering of all our family and friends, but it's amazing how many ways there are to cut out consumerism. We're doing a charity donation instead of buying favors, for example. And spending over $1,000 to cover perfectly good chairs with fabric? not happening. I told the bride's maids to wear whatever they want, so they don't have to spend money on a new dress if they don't want to. It is tough though...they are trying to sell you something every time you turn around!

ReachDabbleShine said...

You so rock :-)

Nature Creek Farm said...

GREAT stuff!
Especially #11 and #2.
I am terrified of my neighbors: and I own 50 acres and live in the 'country'!
Along with "separate families" goes the education system which teaches everyone that they are not successful 'on the farm', but only if they go to college and live in a city.