I have heard a lot of people talking lately about “the consumer”. A lot of big time players depend, of course, on the consumer for their status and glory. If the consumer were to have, say, a nervous breakdown or (God forbid) a paralyzing stroke these media legends would be in big trouble.
In my humble opinion the consumer is just taking a time-out to assess the situation. The stock market is down a third this year and he needs a new plan (Stan) before he decides to join the military and go to Afghanistan in order to get affordable medical insurance. He (or she) is mad (Dad) about needing to work until he drops (Pops) and he’s feeling let down (town) by the big guns.
All of this got me thinking about the importance of the consumer in our world and I don’t see any way around it. He’s very important. He’s the basis of the US economy and this economy is the basis of the world economy. The problem is that he is treated so badly. Nobody ever says “What can we do for the consumer today to make him healthier AND improve his financial balance sheet in the long run?”
Oh no. Instead the media load him up with ideas about all the things he “needs” and then the drug companies fill him full of pills to deal with the fallout. But look what happened to him in the past few weeks.
“Is he dead? . He’s not moving. Poke him with this stick. Put a mirror under his nose. This is serious. What’s going to happen to us if he’s gone? Maybe we shouldn’t have fed him so many subprime mortgages with his cheeseburgers, fries and Viagra.”
No. He’s not dead! But the big guy has the world on his shoulders and he’s not very happy right now. So the people “in charge” are trying to figure out how to cheer him up. But do they want to put him on a diet or radically alter his distructive lifestyle in some way?
No (again). What would a society of happy, healthy citizens even look like? I’m not sure anybody knows. Well maybe a few people know. But in general our society doesn’t really concern itself too much with this. It will do a few things over time (decades) to prevent the consumer from nailing himself in the ground with cigarettes or frying his brain with crack cocaine.
But will Big Brother stop the all pervasive media monster from subjecting our young buyer to ninety million ads per day telling him that he needs this or that to be happy (for the rest of your life) or protected. Is your home protected by an alarm system? Is your dog safe? Will the guy sitting at a desk five states away smell the smoke with his electonic gadgetry and get the fire department there in time to prevent damage?
So many fantasies for sale. Too bad. But it was a nice thought. And the consumer only pays a few dollars per day for this peace of mind (unwind). Perhaps the consumer is busy adding up all the “dollars per day” these days. But no. it might undermine the intent of this economic subterfuge to ADD it all up.
Maybe that’s what he’s doing. But clearly he’s tired of listening to everyone tell him what he needs (to do) (eat) (take) (think) (remember) (save) (understand) (buy).
He gets the feeling that the world doesn’t really care a lot about him as a person. But it doesn’t want him to die either. He can’t contribute much if he’s dead. It would be better if he would just continue to mindlessly spend money as if there were no tomorrow (or yesterday).
It would be better if he would just go to a movie, enjoy a nice fantasy for ninety minutes and have some fries with his steak and beer on the way home. We might even cut him a break on his credit card interest if he’s still not happy by the time he gets there. Twenty one percent might be just a tad high. How’s he going to pay all those education loans?