A critical and satirical gazette about our world.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

BET YOUR LIFE

A wonderful way of life is sweeping across the land. Now that people have accepted greed as good, not bad, not evil, no longer a cardinal sin, but a good quality worthy of human nature, we have by logical extension approved one of its related behaviors. Gambling, once a dark destructive preoccupation of human frailty, has become good clean fun. More than fun, it carries a possible blessing of wealth. Granted the chance of becoming wealthy this way is slimmer than the likelihood of a politician campaigning honestly in a district full of gullible citizens who would not know a lie if it weighed three hundred pounds, sat on their laps, and bit off their noses while cooing, "Kiss me, baby. I'm the Queen of Sheba."

Nonetheless, gambling is fun, so much fun we charmingly refer to it as gaming, as if it were a healthy sport. True, the results of gambling are countless losers with rare winners, but let us not negate the thrill of pulling of the handle, flipping the card, or rolling the die, when a chronically unlucky person can suddenly become fortunate. Such incredibly surreal hope makes life worth living, especially for those given to bouts of stratospheric fantasy.
The skeptic, the naysayer, the stick-in-the-mud may insist gambling is threatening the quality of life, that one may as well throw money into the street instead of shoving it into machines or stacking it up on tables of green. But such crepe-hangers would be wrong. Life is a gamble, whether it be the happenstance of birth, the unpredictability of death, or any of the myriad chances in between succeeding or failing, rising or falling, winning or losing in this world. We would be missing life were we to avoid risk at every step or turn. Nothing ventured nothing gained, even if it means losing everything.

So cash out the equity left in your real estate. Consolidate your credit cards for maximum borrowing power. Grab cash advances on your paycheck. Scrape together every dime, nickel, and penny you can find and turn them into quarters for the slots. Play stock market roulette on the internet. Bet the dog and pony shows. Buy every lottery ticket you can afford; if you cannot afford one, buy it anyway, and go hungry for a day or two. You could probably stand to lose a few pounds. Take your vacations, if not already broke, to some glittering metropolis of decadence, such as Las Vegas. The glamour of the neon oasis in the middle of the bomb blasted desert makes you feel like a million bucks, even if you have less than fifty bucks in the bank. So what if you lose your shirt. Some get rich. Probably they are only the owners of the casinos, but when anyone gets rich, you believe you could be next.

Max out your credit. Sell your furniture. Sell your house. Sell the kids into slavery. Sell your own body or at least a kidney or any organ you can spare. You may as well sell your brain too for a few bucks to blow in blackjack. Hell, you're not using it anyway.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

THE NEW TYRANNY

Historically we have condemned the totalitarian state as hell on Earth. We have feared and fought evil dictators to the losses of many lives. We have sacrificed much for freedom and brag whenever we can about how much we cherish and enjoy it. Sure, we often take it for granted. That is only natural. Animals get used to good times and think they will last forever like the sun. Maybe this the reason we are not objecting to a new form of totalitarianism that has risen like an ogre from our midst. We should know the ogre well. We gave birth to it.

This new dictatorial system is our baby grown gargantuan. It permeates our daily lives and has spread its tentacles around the world. Having become so familiar to us, it goes by different names: Big Business, the International Market, and the Global Economy. We may call it Megacorp—the big fat giant that controls the world. The puppet master that pulls the strings on every political figurehead on the planet. Together with its financial vizier, the International Monetary Fund, it controls the world.

We like to think we have real power with our votes, our placards, our letters to government, our marches in the streets. Yeah. We also dream of going to heaven when we die. We are as unwilling to accept death as an eternal dreamless sleep as we are to accept that Megacorp runs our lives, that its propaganda machine control our minds, that we have no real freedom. We think do but we do not. Freedom to mouth off means little when we continue to serve the master. We live in a make-believe world like figures in a doll house, totally dependent on the whims of the master who plays us.  

Nonetheless, we have the power to cut the strings of the master puppeteer and raise the quality of life on Earth. We have only to stop feeding the monster. Stop buying things. Let the beast go without sustenance long enough and it will do our bidding like the jinni in the lamp. This would require sacrifice but would reap immense rewards. Basically, we would have to give up things, a lot of things, to get what we really need.

If we fail to deprive ourselves willingly for the sake of justice for all, we will suffer severely for the sake of Megacorp. We have the choice. Exist and die as playthings of this new totalitarian master or live free.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

HOW TO BE HAPPY

At last we have found the way to happiness! For centuries people have sought joy in life by various means that have all left us less than satisfied. We have tried romantic love as a way to ecstasy. We have attempted to amass personal fortunes. We have pursued sexual entanglements for physical delight. We have eaten ourselves fat for bounteous satiety. But none of these behaviors has made us feel truly and constantly happy. Fortunately we have discovered right under our noses on counters, shelves, carts, telephones, and computers the path to heaven on Earth—a new secular faith greater than any religion, love affair, or feast—consumerism.

We are born to buy. And never has buying been easier. We used to need a few coins in our pockets to purchase a loaf of bread or a few potatoes. That has radically changed. We have been freed to buy almost whatever, whenever, wherever we want. And we always want. We eat, sleep, and dream of what we want. And we want everything money can buy, even if we do not have any money.

What in the old days was an obstacle to acquisition, that is, insufficient money in the bank, has all but disappeared. Nowadays we are blessed with an almost unlimited line of credit in the form of a shiny piece of plastic. A flexible substitute for money cut in the form of the golden rectangle accompanies us everywhere. In case we spot some attractive item for sale that we do not yet possess, we whip out our wallets and unfold a strap of five or ten cards, all at different stages of financial rotation. When we maximize the limit on one card we have another still open to slap on the sales counter and make a purchase. No fuss with counting currency, no muss with writing checks, no worry about sufficient funds. Buy now, pay later. Or we can roll one card into another and maybe never pay our bills. A virtually unlimited line of credit. We just keep making tiny little monthly payments of pocket money and the line goes on for a lifetime of shopping.

Constant shopping means happiness for billions. We are what we have. The more we have the more important we are. The one who dies with the most things wins the game of life. No matter we amass mountains of debt. Borrow and spend is the mantra of the new economy. Governments do it. Corporations that own the governments do it. Cooperatively everyone else does it. If you are not at least $5000 in debt, you are not on your game. You are not even trying. Besides, we can always hock ourselves to keep consuming.

A sure way to guarantee continued shopping, even when we find our credit cards maximized, lies readily available. Indenturism. Not slavery but a civil contract. We sell ourselves to the company store. We work to earn to buy to have to work to earn to buy to have and so on until we become too old to work and we die happy. Then if we have acquired enough to make us at least temporarily happy, we finally expire in a state of comfort, maybe even luxury, surrounded by things, stuff that makes our lives worthwhile. What a relief!

If we should ever succumb to a totalitarian state that forces us to consume for the sake of the nation, we would be ready to give up our rights for the duty of supporting a free-market economy. Not such a bad idea, right? People will be pleased to oblige the megacorporations that control the minds and bodies of the masses by working as many hours of the day and as many days of the week as possible to make enough money to pay the ever-renewing bills for the purchase of products made by the megacorporations. No matter if we lose free time and the right to choose our own ways of life. The loss of these formerly established essentials of decent civilization is worth the benefit of having more things. Things are the great goal of living. Not people or ideas but things occupy us and stimulate our spirits to believe in a quality of life based on the marvelous marketplace. No more valuable institution could ever exist.

So let us go now and visit the malls. Let us bring our plastic. Let us make a day and a night of the exciting experience. Let us shop all morning from the opening of the doors, lunch at a mall fast food stand, shop all afternoon. Dine in a mall restaurant. Catch a movie in the mall theater and then shop until the doors close. Buy, buy, buy, buy for we are what we have. Nothing more, nothing less.

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