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Friday, March 31, 2017

Consumption Kills More People Today Than Ever Before

 People make their way through heavy smog on an extremely polluted day with red alert issued, in Shengfang, Hebei province, China December 19, 2016. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Around the same time Reagan and Thatcher unleashed their neoliberal poison based on a corrosive disbelief ion the existence of society, only individuals and family (nepotism anyone?), corporations decided exploitation of the customer was a better strategy than creating quality products. It was about the time that shares into the universal corporate product, shareholders the central concern and their profit a business’s highest legal obligation. “Planned obsolesce” legitimized the idea of selling cheap, disposable, irreparable crap for a huge markup. Many companies stopped selling parts and started designing their products not only to become useless and inoperable at a profitable time, but to be impossible to repair, even to open.  And then they build in required basic software, like a seat sensor that shuts down a tractor, that they own the rights to forever like a soul.  If it breaks, just buy a new one, right?

All this is to keep us coming back at predictable times. If this stops being enough, they make tiny changes and release these amazing revolutions yearly, generally changing just enough to make new hardware and software necessary… wireless earbuds anyone? Instead of improving quality and actually competing for our willing purchases, they force us into streams from which we can’t turn without buying many new pieces of equipment and software and switching everything. They don’t offer more choices; they take away one they don’t want us to have. Of course this doesn’t keep everyone lining up like zombies for lunch once a year at the store, you need a bit stronger a buzz for that. 

How about mindless programs and communications engineered and designed to exploit addiction and then feed to you every few seconds by default? First taste free, then add-ons cost, keep those little jolts going. Make sure you never pay more than 5 minutes attention to anything, but you pay for the game, the data, the ads targeting you, and the profits being made of your most private details and every movement. 

But it’s all done willingly, so where’s the harm?

Our consumption is fed by suicides, sweatshops, and pollution in Asia. It’s a direct relationship. We kill the Chinese making it and then we send the waste to India to poison them. Lovely economic practice. Our convenience and entertainment is choking half the world. We clean up our environment by shifting the poison top theirs, as well as the worker exploitation, and a few of the baubles they make. Isn’t it good that more of them can afford to buy the same crap we do.  So what if they can chew their air. Why shouldn’t Trump be for US coal? It gets burned in China. 

Consumer capitalism is a snake devouring its own tail to get fatter. Neoliberalism gives it the munchies. Our tech addiction gives is like giving it speed and we all know that speed kills. Consumerism is the modern planetary equivalent to the “consumption” of the old days. Wasn’t consumption TB, a lung disease? Hmmmm…..

Keep on consuming and upgrading folks. It’s the free market, as free as any market for specifically addictive substances. Got to feed the economic beast and calm those investor monkeys.

From CBC Radio's Quirks And Quarks:
Saturday April 01, 2017

A new international study sheds light on a disturbing reality. Consumers in the west are indirectly contributing to the deaths of people in the countries where those products are made.  

The study estimates that 3.45 million premature deaths are the result of  air pollution, and that  22 per cent, or approximately 760,000 of those deaths can be linked to consumer goods produced in one part of the world for consumption in another. The research focused specifically on fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5.  

In the paper, Dr. Steven Davis and his co-researchers lay out evidence that they say might be considered in decisions made by policy makers, and global governance bodies. 
And consumers might think twice the next time they swap their cell phones for the latest model, or buy cheap sunglasses from a dollar store.