Saturday, March 26, 2011

Common Sense, Benefits, and Peaceful Resistance

     What if there were a means of resisting the New World Order that required little effort or sacrifice on our part? Suppose we could resist the New World Order by having fun, spending less money, getting more value, having more free time, and consuming healthier and more delicious food and drink?
     No, the preceding paragraph isn’t a point of departure for some clarion call to sacrifice and arduous effort. I’m likely enough to do that in other articles.
     The key word here is benefit—a favorite word of advertisers. Modern advertisers know that people don’t buy products because they want products; they buy them because they want benefits. For example, they buy soft drinks because they want flavor, refreshment or quick energy, not because they want soft drinks.
     Maybe you’ve read the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The con men who sold the “new clothes” were the forerunners of modern branding. The emperor was deceived because he was convinced that the new clothes gave him status. Modern advertising is the art of making corporate propaganda seem like revealed truth.
     The early stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius predated Hans Christian Andersen by more than 1,600 years. His writings caused me to realize just how much modern advertising has led us to embrace slavery.
     Aurelius taught, among other things, that we are liberated by seeing things as they really are rather than being taken in by illusions and embellishments. As if to anticipate Andersen, Aurelius gave the example of a king’s purple robes. A king’s robe is nothing but the wool of a sheep stained by the blood of a sea snail, yet people’s imaginations cause them to stand in awe of it.
     Here I’ll address two lessons, but they’re inseparably interwoven. The first is how advertisers help us to trick ourselves. The other is the way we cheat ourselves in the ways we buy goods and services.
     Advertisers start by convincing target consumers (as they call them)  that they need a given benefit. Then they convince them that they can’t get that benefit in any way other than by buying a certain product.
     In addition to tangible benefits, advertisers have taken to marketing delusions. With huge advertising budgets, advertisers have gulled shallow people into thinking they can gain status—that’s the delusion—simply by buying something that has a certain logo on it. Like the king’s robe, it may be just an article of clothing, no better or worse than a less expensive brand.
     The difference between what the product is worth and what advertisers convince people that it’s worth is the difference between selling a product and selling a delusion. (And you thought that the emperor in Andersen’s story was gullible.) As soon as we accept that fact, we’re well on our way to spending less money and gaining more value.
     Let’s go a little deeper into this matter of benefit. We expect to pay for whatever benefit we hope to receive; but we’re often deceived as to how we must pay for it.  When we let advertisers do our thinking for us, they limit our options.
     In industrialized countries, the means of payment show a set of priorities that is designed to enslave us. Credit cards come first, followed by checks, then cash. Very few of us consider bartering for goods and services, although some people may give some of their surplus to others.
    In agrarian societies, priorities are the reverse of those in industrialized countries. In agrarian societies, people freely give to their neighbors and others. They also freely barter. Cash, and possibly checks, are sometimes used. Credit cards and other such instruments of debt are more likely to be recognized as folly.
     On a quarter acre of land back in the States, I planted three trees: apple, peach, and pear. They required almost no effort on my part, and the trees produced so much fruit that I couldn’t give it away fast enough. I had to allow much of it to go back to the soil.
     I also planted vegetables, berries, and spices. My small yard also boasted a flower garden, a rock garden, a water garden, a strolling path, and some small statuary. Since I focused on indigenous plants and natural gardening methods, my gardens required very little care. I called this arrangement a meander garden.
     Hand terracing the yard gave me plenty of exercise and satisfaction, and the food I grew was cost free and healthier than store-bought foods.
     Here in the big city, I can’t have a garden, but I do grow peppermint. From time to time, I buy food from the locals in the day market. It usually costs about half what it would cost at Carrefour, the French hypermarket that has put a lot of traditional mom-and-pop stores out of business.
     Here’s where economists enter the picture. I’ve heard all my life that thrift, which is economically beneficial for people as individuals, is economically terrible for people as a nation.
     That’s because most economists measure economic good by the gross domestic product (GDP). The more money people spend, they more value they supposedly receive. If they go into debt, they’re supposedly even better off.
     The trouble is, money spent doesn’t necessarily mean value received. If John’s income is twice as much as Bill’s but he spends half his income on medical bills, we can’t say that John is twice as well off as Bill. If more people in a certain country grow their own food or buy it from a farmers’ market, they’re receiving more value for less money than the country where more people buy their food in cans at a supermarket.

     We receive even more value if we sharply curtail our use of credit cards, checks, and even cash. The international banking cartel depends on us placing a higher priority on things they can manipulate than on things beyond their reach.
     They also depend on us failing to see things as they really are. They want us to believe that we can receive the benefits we want only by buying the goods, services, and even illusions that they control because that’s the only way they can get us to use fiat money, checks, and most of all credit cards.
     In point of fact, we already have all the power we need to gain freedom from economic slavery. Remember that people don’t buy air conditioners because they want air conditioners. They don’t even buy them because they want cooler air; they buy them because they want comfort. If comfort is what you want, who is most qualified to find the most reasonable and cost-effective means of gaining that benefit—you or a corporate advertiser?
     When we’re tempted to buy a product, we should stand consumerist advertising techniques on their head. We should ask ourselves, “What benefit do I want?” Then we can ask, “What’s the most reasonable way to get that benefit?” In most cases, we’ll find ourselves saying to the advertisers and the banksters, “No thanks. I’ll take the benefit. You can keep your lousy product.”
     As soon as we recognize that we can enjoy benefits without having to sell our souls to the banking cartel, we begin the road back to health, freedom, and real peace. Moreover, we’ll receive more than the benefits we had once thought could only be found in wasteful products. We’ll generate less pollution, conserve resources, incur less debt (if any), enjoy more freedom, and live happier and healthier lives. 

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