Thursday, December 19, 2013

Letter #16 - The Christmas Letter: Merry Consumerism


“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, verified knowledge reigned supreme and consumerism breathed its last breath”

As the magical, no pun intended, holiday (root words: holy day) roll upon us hastening in a new winter solstice and a new western Gregorian calendar year, there is no better time to contemplate the holiday in historical, ideological, and economic perspectives in order to develop a clear understanding of what exactly we are dealing with under all of the beautiful mass produced images of peace of earth, hope, and selfless giving.  I must admit that I have come to peace with the end of the year holidays as an American cultural time of year, and certainly enjoy the time off with our family, but I still stand firm against the historical inaccuracies of the scriptural religious events at the center of the holiday, the individualism of the religion, unhealthy norms and values of the holiday, and the excessive consumerism, wasteful spending and accumulated debt that is associated with the holiday.

Briefly, the history of the holiday, and essentially the religion behind it, has been verified as possessing historical inaccuracies based on possible scriptural plagiarisms.  The holiday itself surrounds the virgin birth of Jesus, a man who very little historical documentation exists about outside of the gospel accounts, both synoptic and those not included in church canon after the councils of Nicea and Laodicea.  History shows us that the virgin birth story was not originated with Christianity as there are many pre-Christian virgin birth stories in various cultures to include Mithra, Buddha, Krishna, Odysseus, Romulus, Dionysus, Horus, Attis, and a handful of others.  It can also be rationalized and researched that the birth of the historical figure of Jesus, if he existed, did not occur at the winter solstice of December 25th of the Gregorian calendar, and possibly not even in the year marking the transition from B.C.E (before common era) and C.E. (common era), and that the church placed the holiday of Christmas over the winter solstice celebration of Saturnalia, which was recorded as a celebration with high levels of drunken and sexual debauchery.  Ideologically speaking, the holiday concept is not a healthy one, especially under a capitalist society and an international stage of trade blocs and globalization, for the future for our children.  This doesn’t just include the irrational religious ideologies with no historical authentication that influences congressional politics from the domestic level to imperialism across the international stage; it begins at the micro-level of pagan traditions, the holiday tradition of excessive spending, and the ideology of jolly old Santa.  The Christmas tree, so reminiscent of the maypole, seems harmless enough if you do not consider all of the foreign manufactured gifts, many of them symbols of consumerism, and the current dominated condition of the American job market that is consumer service heavy.  Santa on the other hand would seem to be an especially unhealthy ideology for children, and I certainly have never allowed you children to believe in such fallacy.  What kind of culture allows their children to believe in magical lies about a magical, wait…what the hell is Santa?  A Spirit?, who brings free presents to children in a some twisted social ritual which prevents, or delays, their real world understanding of the domestic or international market, labor hours and wages, Interest rates on credit cards, trade blocs and manufacturing, and the foolishness that anything in this world is free and given (even though there is quite a bit of fraud in government assistance both domestically and foreign)?  How shameful is it to see unappreciative children tearing through the wrappings of presents and quickly tossing hard earned wages, in the form of foreign manufactured gifts, to the side with no understanding of how hard a parent worked, or of where these consumer gifts were manufactured, or economic consequences, whether good or bad, to the family-unit purchasing these gifts.  The light of Christmas gift-giving illuminated at 8-12% interest rates as Americans, and people world-wide, plunge into various levels of consumer debt to celebrate merry consumerism while the private sector, so talented at painting marketable Christmas images of giving across every form of mass media outlet and to every marketable demographic, amasses another annual seasonable capital profit on the backs of the people.  Thanks to regional trade blocs that have emerged under globalization, the state has agreed to many international trade agreements to eliminate tariffs from products coming from so-called lesser developed countries and, in doing so, has agreed to rely solely on federal, state and sales tax, thus allowing the private sector to maximize profits while the individual consumers pay the state in the absence of tariffs.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a satisfying feeling to do nice things for your children and provide them with some nice things, but to do so as a ritual that becomes detached from reality and responsibilities, both to families and state, becomes an unhealthy tradition urged on by inorganic corporate processed images of a mythical white man with a beard.  As I told my oldest daughter once, if there IS ever a bearded white man in our house in the middle of the night, you better take serious caution and wake me the hell up!  The younger siblings will be disillusioned to the Santa foolishness as quickly as their older sister was, and I encourage any parent to do the same.  Some traditions are simply meant to be broken.  In addition, I find it completely irrational and unsafe for parents to take their children, whether younger than 8 or in their teenage years, and allow them to sit upon some Santa-dressed stranger’s lap for pictures without actually knowing who is underneath that costume.  Yes, the holiday is capitalistic-based consumerism, and nothing displays the true economic motives of the thirsty capitalist than the creation of a shopping holiday called Black Friday where mobs of Americans trample, mob, and fight over manufactured items at 40% off retail price, of course manufactured in foreign states, while behaving in the most uncivilized manner imaginable.

Let us quickly look at capitalism in the age of globalism as it pertains to gifts under the Christmas tree.  Private sector corporations will manufacture in lesser developed countries with the lowest wage requirements in order to produce manufactured items for consumption, from Disney princesses to electronics, which are shipped into consumer states such as the United States, especially at Christmas.  Economic benefits for the consumer state have already been reduced by the elimination of tariffs under regional trade blocks or bilateral trade agreements.  These blocs that reduce tariffs allow private sector corporations to import raw materials into the lesser developed states with the lowest wage requirements without having to pay importation tariffs, manufacture the product in a lesser developed state at the lowest wages, and then export the manufactured product out of the lesser developed state and import it into the consumer state without tariffs, in this case the United States, where the products will be consumed resulting in the private sector profit being maximized.  Yet, how does the consumer state benefit?  The private sector pays minimum tariffs and taxes, and the bulk sales and domestic taxes fall on the labor of the individual consumer.  The consumer state no longer manufactures products or exports natural resources of value, therefore developing jobs mainly in the service industry based on this capitalist consumerism as it eats itself to feed itself.  What happens to the consumer state when the population becomes disillusioned by consumerism or the state’s debt to GDP ratio surpasses 100% and consumerism dies of its own accord?