Apes in Suits
There are millions of us living under dual identities, who we are now versus who we used to be back then. This economic plague has changed us, it’s changed the way we think and act and respond to things. Take for instance, a credit card offer. Years ago, I would have glanced at it with a knowing confidence. Just a quick scan and I could spot the good ones from the bad ones, you see; I knew about these things, so trust me. Today, I’d rather accept a stack of small pox infected blankets than a credit card offer. Mark Twain said; “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
It’s all too true, a tool was mentioned in conversation and I unconsciously answered, “I used to have a belt sander.” My mind continued with a mental inventory, and a table saw, a drill press, a circular saw, a jig saw, post-hole diggers, two nice metal shop cabinets, a twelve-foot work bench with a vise on the end, a welder, a 65 Mustang Coupe, three guitars and on and on, until I was almost sickened by it. I was never wealthy, at least, I never thought of myself as wealthy. I had accumulated rooms full of possessions, a push mower, a riding mower, a weed eater and a chain saw.
Most of these things, strangely enough, I used very little. I had spaces for all my toys and kept them all neat. I filled up a big house with a big yard, which I also used very little, not that I didn’t have plans. Oh, I had big plans, yes sir buddy! Big plans, once I paid down my credit card debt and my business took off, I was going to have a swimming pool put in. You see, I really love to swim; why in any given year, I might go swimming two or three times. But if I had my own swimming pool in the back yard, I’d probably swim twice as much.
Such are the things which were not to be, such are the promises which disperse like whiffs of smoke in the breeze. Everyone to the lifeboats – every man for himself!
I managed to sell some of my toys others just disappeared to where I know not. As I traveled the country, I saw your toys on the side of the road, for sale too. A jet ski, a bass boat, a riding tractor or a motorcycle, it didn’t matter where; it was the same in Atlanta, Georgia or Astoria, Oregon. I’m more embarrassed by once having these things than in losing them. Oh wait; I forgot the workout room, the treadmill and weight bench, the hand weights and the weight machine. The TV and the stereo and a remote control fan, which was really neat. If I were running on the treadmill, I could reach over and turn on the fan all the way across the room. It’s a must have, don’t you think? No home is complete without one.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to want things, I’m saying your things should not define your life. Having and losing these things taught me just how sick I was when I thought I was well. I was playing the game, I was told the game was good and I should try as hard as I could. And if I played the game, I might have an even bigger house with even more nice things to put inside. Much nicer things, things so nice they would put to shame my things, compared with their much nicer things.
But it is just a game, it’s not real. Unless you’re selling life jackets in shipwreck, you must create a need for your product. I heard a woman on National Propaganda Radio the other day explain; how she was environmentally aware. She only used environmentally safe detergent and fabric softener and dryer sheets. She was both environmentally conscious and a Capitalist consumer. She bought products made in factories to recreate the effect of drying clothes in the sun on a clothesline. She probably didn’t have time for a clothesline, because she had to get to her job to pay for all that stuff.
These things I had, I thought I needed. Once stripped of them; I began to see the things other people needed. The mother making the kid put back the expensive cereal for the generic or the old man begging for money at the intersection. In my days of warm comfort and prosperity, I might have looked the other way. But when faced with the reality of my own empty pockets, I began to see the shuttered small businesses as the end of someone’s dream. The rows of empty houses as similes of our own society, as property is valued people are devalued.
As I became detached from Capitalism, my lifetime of training and indoctrination evaporated. If money is free speech, then speech ain’t free. It’s a lifetime of running around the Monopoly board, chasing after play money and property, until someone with more, forces you out. Maybe the undertaker more likely the lawyer, but that’s the way it is. We are, after all, only apes in suits; safe enough with a unicycle or a yoyo, but Capitalism is not to be trusted in our hands, anymore than a baby with a firearm. Any system of government or economy which does not put the well-being of the people first, is inherently wrong.
No amount of money or houses or gated communities can change the facts, millions of our neighbors are poor, unemployed, struggling, sick or homeless. Every philosophy or religion ever created by humanity, calls that sin or evil. Every philosophy or religion ever created by humanity, except one, Neo-liberal Capitalism.