It is so interesting.
On the one hand, we get news reports almost daily about how one of the major American health threats is obesity. We see a doctor on a news program giving the grim news …and then the network cuts to a commercial pushing a jusicy hamburger with all the trimmings, an order of fries and a sugar-filled drink.
Or, we hear about how bad the economy is, how Americans abuse credit, how everybody overspends …and then comes the commercial telling people who do not have money to go to a legal and legitimate predatory lending company to get a loan. The commercial features smiling, friendly faces, something the poor or “in trouble” don’t often see, inviting people into the bowels of hell …aka, debt.
There are scores of commercials that seem to denote a schizophrenia in American culture: in one breath, we are presented the sordid facts of what is very wrong with us …and in the very next breath, we are encouraged to engage in the very behavior which makes us not so well in the first place.
The reason is simple: the insatiable quest for money. In order for capitalism to work, people must spend money, even if they do not have it, and even if it means the demise of their personal health. Commercials specialize in capitalizing on the weaknesses of the human spirit. We like to eat. We like things …and so we are lured and spend money on things, to our own destruction.
It seems that all is fair in the quest for …money.
I just finished reading John Grisham’s book, “The Appeal.” It made me sick. No, not the writing, but the storyline. In that book, a corporation knowingly dumped toxic waste in a poor community rural Mississippi. The people were deemed worthless; the quest for money was deemed most important.
People began to get sick and die, and a widow finally files a lawsuit against the company, which blatantly lied about what it was doing, bribed or got rid of potentially damaging witnesses, and got angry that it had even been called on its actions.
The company lost the lawsuit which would have cost them millions had the ruling been upheld. Of course, it wasn’t. People … with big money …manipulated the system and paid big money to make sure a sympathetic judge would be seated on the state’s highest court. They got their guy in, the appeal was overturned, and the company went back to making millions of dollars.
Damn the people.
That’s what it feels like to me, watching these commercials. It really doesn’t matter that the fast food restaurants, which cater to everyone but which unfortunately become the primary food sources for too many poor people, are making foods which make people obese. The restaurants are making money.
And it doesn’t matter that once a person borrows from one of those predatory lending companies, he or she cannot get back on their feet. They keep spiraling downward into debt, while the owners of the companies get rich.
Are we a nation that stands for justice or are we not?
We speak out of both sides of our mouths, espousing one ideal value but then working another value, set quite apart from the ideal.
It’s capitalist schizophrenia. It’s dishonest, and it is manipulative.
There is nothing wrong with making money, but when one will stoop to any level to make it, keep it and multiply it, something is amiss.
The commercials manipulate everyone -from the very poor to the very rich. One of the members of my congregation once said to me, “There is a lot of money in poor people.” The marketing experts know that. How better to get poor people to make them richer than by putting a sports icon on a television urging them to rent furniture at some ridiculous, weekly rate.
Or how better to get a “wanna be” rich person to buy a luxury car he or she cannot afford by suggesting that only the most sophisticated person can …or even qualifies … to drive a vehicle such as this?
It is not right. This capitalist schizophrenia is killing us, even while some people are making a lot of money.
I guess they forgot that rot starts internally and makes its way to the surface eventually.
That’s a candid observation.