Friday, August 26, 2005

To market, to market, to sell to a fat pig






Like so many cows in a paddock enjoying what appears to be a free lunch, the whole world feeds and feeds on the American (and to some extent Australian and European) consumer as "the engine" of world economic growth.

Not being anyone to complain about all the consumption and attention, the good consumers are fattening themselves obligingly for the slaughter. "Americans are getting fatter at a rate never seen before, a report shows." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4183086.stm)

The great American marketing machine for the consumer goods industry ( http://www.marketwatch.com/tools/industry/componentlist.asp?siteid=mktw&bcind_ind=fob&bcind_period=3mo ) presses on from one fad to another, and you can just sense that the next "big thing" will be a huge government funded program (probably with corporate or faith based sponsors) to sell some organised event to take our minds and bodies off the other major issues of the day. Quite unlike, I am sure, President Kennedy's admonition in the early '60's to just put on a t-shirt and go walking "50 miles or bust" in any direction.



And in the tradition of trying to make a buck out of every malady, even to the point of creating the malady or simply creating the perception of a malady, American business has been quick to jump on the "affluenza" condition (
http://www.affluenza.org/) with all the charity of a snake oil salesman. You can order the book (http://www.affluenza.com/) and you can watch the show (http://www.pbs.org/kcts/affluenza/). And you can buy a pig in a poke.

Now, I'm a glutton as good as any other, and I'm not making any claim to some sanctimonious high ground. You'd better believe that this little piggy has gone to market. But it does seem to me that we ought to consider if there is any economic model that can offer us wellbeing and happiness without having to consume ourselves in the process.

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