Black Friday Weekend, and the Bible
by pastor Paul J. Bern
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The psychopathology of consumerism and the subtle brain washing of mind control – these are the insidious institutions that Americans find themselves subjected to on a daily basis, and all in the holy name of ‘profit’. We have, like it or not, become programmed like robots to spend more than we can afford on things we don’t really need. Like sheep headed to the trimmers – or to the slaughterhouse, depending on your point of view – we dutifully spend our meager little incomes at the bidding of the top 1% of business owners, the corporate elite and their stockholders while our highly vaunted capitalist economic system fleeces us all while rubbing our noses in it. Those who control America’s shadow government – the real movers and shakers from behind the scenes, not their puppets in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court – have sold out our country to the competition and therefore have committed treason!
The reason most people don’t care about or won’t even consider these glaring realities is because they can “live so much cheaper” buying the very inexpensively made garbage that China and other Pacific Rim and South Asian countries have been dumping on America’s shores since the 1980’s. Cheaper at first, yes, but due to shoddy manufacturing and poor quality, Chinese products are notoriously short-lived and invariably cheap imitations of much better quality merchandise that used to be made here in the US. But that, of course, was before corporate America and Wall Street outsourced all those middle class American jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar. And so we fight and claw for the thriftiest deal at the various suburban big box stores, purchasing with our meager earnings from our multiple part time jobs – because there are no full time jobs available – as well as other chain stores, all of whom offer pathetic and similarly low wages and zero benefits to their staff. Just like your own employer, most likely.
So, as the ‘pitch man’ says, how much can we save on all these wonderful items (LOL)? That depends. If one uses plastic instead of paper, that “consumer” always ends up paying far more in interest, fees and hidden charges than they would have if they bought a similar higher quality item at the finest store in town and paid cash. Hmm….. maybe we should ask ourselves some more pertinent questions and explore some far more evident realities about this issue. For example, what about the Chinese workers slaving in dangerous non union factories for 10-12 hours a day? How much does the company pay them? It works out to between 1 and 2 dollars per day. Try living on that for just one week!! Yet Jesus clearly stated, “The workman is worth his wages” (Luke 10: 7). So it is clearly a sin for business owners to cheat or underpay their workers. Who benefits most from these kinds of arrangements? Is it really the mesmerized consumer, all teary-eyed with joy while giggling gleefully at 30, 40, and 50% off deals? Or could it be that the whole stinking thing is rigged from beginning to end? Of course it is!!
Just look at what is being sold and calculate how much it costs to make it. If I look at a 15 ounce can of generic or store brand pork and beans on the grocery shelf priced at 75 cents, it doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out that 75 cents is an outrageous markup. The cans are made by the millions, so they cost just a penny or so to manufacture. The contents of the can usually cost even less. The label costs between 5 and 7 cents at the most. So we’re looking at no more than 2 cents for the can and the contents, and maybe an extra 5 or 6 cents for the label. Add another penny or two for shipping and we have 10 cents at the most. Ten darned cents, and the retail price is 75 cents? So the gross markup is more than seven times the cost, or in excess of 700%? Precisely. Or consider a far more expensive item such as the latest I-phone. They sell for about $700 dollars and up, plus taxes and “fees”, but there was a posting on the Internet just recently to the effect that it only costs Apple, Inc. about $120.00 to manufacture I-phones because they were being made in China, resulting in a profit margin exceeding 300%. So much for “God bless America”.
“Yeah, but,” the politicians and talking heads say to us on TV, “it’s the American workers. They don’t want to work menial jobs like canning pork and beans. And we can’t assemble I-phones in America because our workers aren’t qualified.” Never mind that there are many thousands of recent college graduates who are living with their parents because they are unable to support themselves. There simply are no jobs for these poor young adults, and yet they are expected to repay predatory and exorbitant student loans. The careers for which they have been training have already been out-sourced to the third world during the last 4+ years that these hapless individuals have spent earning their degrees. They have all been robbed of their educations, which have been rendered worthless by the multinational corporations and the US military-industrial complex who are running the whole show. The very companies these young graduates are looking forward to going to work for are the ones who have sold them out. As you can see, they don’t have much to be thankful for except for being alive. But thanks be to God, who makes being thankful for being alive just enough to be happy about!
Yet we are expected to perform our patriotic duty as well as appropriately celebrate the “feast of capitalism” as we shop till we drop looking for that most fantastic bargain. We are in the process of being programmed to slave at multiple part time jobs working for starvation wages and with no health benefits while being expected to buy $300,000.00 houses, $70,000.00 cars and trucks plus big screen TV’s and $1,000.00 I-phones. While all this is occurring, certain employees of multiple multinational corporations are being well paid to line the pockets of senators, congressmen and supreme-court justices in Washington D.C., while sitting on presidential cabinets making decisions regarding our planet’s future, our own future, and our children’s future. Is it any wonder that the entire world seems to be coming unglued? Meanwhile our consumerism is devouring the planet into something that might soon become more lifeless than the moon or a Wall Street tycoon’s conscience. Yet, mesmerized by commercials with intelligence levels less than a jackass after having a lobotomy, we roll blindly into the gates of our hallowed shopping malls and venerated big box stores.
Lennon and McCartney of the Beatles wrote in the song “Revolution”, “you say you want a revolution, well you know, we’d all love to change your head.” Yes, it is about more than changing Wall Street or who resides in the White House. It is, ultimately, about changing ourselves. If we all really want some serious change, then change must start from within. Speak from your heart to your kids about consumerism, greed and how they are ruining the planet. Help them to understand that it’s not about how much we have, but rather how much we contribute. Life is not about how much we own or the value of our possessions. A life well lived is all about making a stand for good things like faithfulness, showing mercy and kindness, and above all, expressing love. Instead of buying your wife a new car while going into debt, take her up on the highest place around where you live, or to some favorite romantic spot, and renew your vows to her. Instead of buying your husband a new bag of golf clubs, give him a night he will never forget. Enjoy each other and be loving to each other. To enjoy is to enjoin is to unite. And since we’re going to unite in this regard, let’s unite against greed and materialism while we’re at it!
Consumerism, capitalism and the vain pursuit of worldly goods keeps us isolated by gimmicks of sensationalist advertising with strikingly beautiful women, absolutely perfect children and gorgeous, flaming hunks of men that are created off the corporate mold. To put it simply, the corporate mold and the Hollywood image are a load of BS. And who is being molded in all these advertising gimmicks? You are!! For what purpose? To make others rich at your expense!! The blue chip corporations have a very good reason for doing all this. As long as they can keep us isolated, we can never be united. Don’t go there. Keep your money. Find richness in your heart, your spirit and your character and share that with everyone this year instead.