Tag Archives: Capitalism

On Consumerism



Photo details: 1980 NYC Stencil and photograph by John Fekner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We live in a world where television, billboards, magazines and even toilets are hoarded with sales pitches trying to convince us that a particular brand of soup is what will rid us of our loneliness and make our lives happier. Every day we are bombarded with ideas and concepts to such an extent that we subconsciously start accepting them (almost like Inception). ‘Advertising’ is selling the viewer the idea that consumption (of a particular product) will lead to gratification. In fact, almost all advertisements tap into our insatiable appetite for prestige, power, happiness and status, making the idea quite seductive. Consumerism today has become a pastime, ideology and even a source of addiction. In fact lots of economists and philosophers like to think of consumerism as the singular idea that has successfully taken over the world we live in today. People from all regions, religions and ages indulge in the idea that – more is always better!

But really… is it?

Over the years we have become relatively richer. Businesses have spread, the globe has gotten smaller and we have conditioned ourselves to strive for higher salaries and affluent lifestyles. But has that made us happier? Much like our salaries, rates of divorces, suicides, reports of violence and, not to forget, the number of people suffering of depression, has steadily increased, which makes you really ponder about whether money can really buy happiness.

A recent study conducted by the North-western University, tested how people responded to consumerism and materialism. Results showed that groups that were exposed to images of luxury goods and wordings that rallied consumerist values, showed a higher level of depression and anxiety as compared to those that were shown neutral scenes without consumerist images and words. The former also demonstrated social disengagement and negative environmental behaviour. Economists like to call this, The Modern paradox, where people are progressing materially, but regressing, socially and emotionally.

Can this be one of the reasons why hermits and monks do so well on the happiness scale? Clearly having more choices and going the material way, does not seem to work in the favour of happiness and self-growth. Then why do we pursue it? What makes us so vulnerable to the idea of buying more stuff?

According to a few evolutionary psychologists, the urge to buy more may be deeply embedded in our nature. Studies have shown that young men get a higher testosterone spike when they drive a sports car as compared to driving an ordinary one. This is called the ‘Peacock effect’. Much like the peacock that flaunts its assets to look attractive to its mate and pose competition to its rivals, humans advertise their affluence to look more attractive and desirable. So in effect, in today’s world people like to believe that the possessing affluent goods will make them more desirable.

Although such studies may help us understand our weakness for giving into consumerism, are we also looking for a ‘genetic/ psychological’ reason to excuse ourselves for our consumerist behaviour? It is time we realise the damage we are doing to the environment and ask ourselves isn’t what we have enough. Probably, we should all start following Bhutan’s method of measuring our Gross National Happiness along with our Gross Domestic Product. But for now, like Galen V. Bodenhausen says- watch less TV!

Via the Coffee Science Table: http://coffeetablescience.com/2013/04/06/the-science-of-consumerism/)


Thanks Coke!



You may have heard the Coke ads claiming their love for polar bears recently, and how they are generously offering to donate $2 million over 5 years to the WWF Arctic Home Project. That’s a whopping $400,000 a year; enough to buy half an average home in Toronto. It’s true they have some history with the polar bear; those massive killing machines have been “used to represent joy” in their holiday campaigns since 1993. It got me thinking about what this really means to a multi-billion dollar company like Coke. So, I looked up a bunch of facts and figures and re-worked them for fun. I know, I need to get a better hobby.

The Coke website states that 1.7 billion servings are consumed per day worldwide. That equals 620,500,000,000, which I think is 620 billion servings per year, which makes me feel a bit sick. $400,000 divided by 620 billion equals $0.000000644641418 donated per serving, per year. How spoilt those bears will be. If that were a sliver of a pie chart the size of the world it would be as thick as my finger. I just made that up, but you get the idea! According to Wikinvest, in 2012 Coca Cola earned a net profit (profit after all expenses) of $452 million. Surely they could do better than half an average house in Toronto.

Coke has a range of over 3,500 beverages according to Business Insider. That’s a gargantuan donation of $114 from each product per year.

Each can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar per serving. The average American consumes 10.8 pounds of sugar per year just from Coke, and Mexicans are even worse! So worldwide we have our 620 billion servings per year. Multiplying that by 39 grams, equals 241.8 million kilograms, or 533.1 million lbs of sugar per year. The average polar bear weighs about 400kg (adult male 350–700 kg while adult female is about half that size). That means the world consumes 604,500 sugary polar bears each year. Hey why doesn’t Coke just build a new Arctic made of sugar for the bears?

Coke use 300,000 tons of aluminium in their cans each year; that’s over 17% of the US aluminium production industry. I have no idea what Coke’s carbon footprint is, but I’m guessing their ‘donation’ doesn’t go that far to offset it.

The point of all this is, well, do you think Coke really gives a flying crap about polar bears? Of course they don’t, and it’s laughable to think so. All they really care about is profit. Including the polar bear campaign, Coke spends around 2.9 billion in advertising a year. I don’t believe this campaign is about saving polar bears, I believe it’s about brand building and buying your loyalty. It’s about making you think they care about the environment. Also, look out for their new ads showing how Coke can fit into a healthy lifestyle, because they really care about you too. Have a Diet Coke full of Aspartame, one of the most dangerous food additives out there, sure they care. While you’re at it, why don’t you give it to your baby bear cubs like they do in their ads.

Mankind’s Infantilism and the Death of the Planet


Hello my fellow Earthlings. We think we’re so fucking clever, don’t we. We’ll probably revert to our rodent instincts and burrow underground when the shit really hits the fan. With the eco-apocalypse fast approaching, the best way for the human species to redeem itself would be to voluntarily undergo a cultural and spiritual transformation on a global scale. When I say spiritual, I mean honoring the ground we walk on and not some false deity. Science, not mythology, is the basis for my beliefs. This Earth is all we really have. Start caring for it and respecting it with the same reverence and homage we pay to our electronic toys of mass distraction, i.e. TV, iphones, video games, computers, etc…

Know that this culture of self-worship and materialism is sending our species to the dustbin of failed evolutionary experiments, most certainly by the end of this century if not mid-century. The evidence is all around us if only we care to open our eyes.

Below is a video I put together to illustrate the suffocation of the real world beneath the concrete, steel, and asphalt world humans have superimposed on it. We have worked to replace what is genuine and long-lasting with something that is artificial and unsustainable. And all the science says this world we have created from fossil fuels cannot be maintained in the long run, not even with so-called renewable energy. On top of that mess, we are wrecking the planet’s biosphere and ensuring that our descendants will have no chance to experience nature or a habitable planet. We have quite literally destroyed our only true home, leaving us vulnerable to the vicious elements of the outside world which are growing ever worse in the form of climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation.

I’m afraid that confronting this civilization-ending calamity is not a solo endeavor, but must be a global undertaking. As someone said on this site before, the success of a society, be it an ancient tribe or a technologically advanced people, depends on whether there is cooperation and shared sacrifice. I don’t have to tell you that in today’s world, such traits are in short shrift. Individualism and self-interest dominate over any sort of collectivism and altruism. Self-glorification and the almighty profit motive are not going to solve these problems. The solution for global ecological destruction will not be found in an accounting scheme or any other such capitalist interest.

It’s time to face what we have done to the planet and ourselves. I don’t expect any such great awakening to occur. I’m fairly confident that we will stumble along into total collapse with all the usual mayhem that ensues in such an event – drought, famine, pestilence, and war. We humans had such promise, but we’re throwing it all away. If only we would grow up.Image

The gap between poor and rich


The gap between poor and rich can’t stop getting my attention.
Reminding me of the predator prey relationships.
Talking about humans, we only see one type of predator prey relationships, which is ‘rich preying on the poor’.
Talking about animals, all types of predator prey relationships are present.
This is a difference that makes us, humans, realize that animals are more interesting than us.