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Get Over Nation

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Get Over Nation

We are constantly urged to buy things we don’t need, which we use once, if at all, and then dispose of to buy another thing we don’t need, and often don’t really want. Who does it benefit if we, in essence, buy the same thing over and over and over and over and over? Why pay every day for something you should be able to buy once a week, once a month, or … once? Who does that benefit? You? You’re being ripped off and gotten over on and deep down you know it, but you feel like you can’t “not buy stuff.” So you just keep doing it and not thinking about it because it feels good - at the moment you’re doing it. But soon you feel the urge to do it again. Can you say “addict”?

You buy shoddy, inferior goods purposefully made to fall apart as fast as possible. And you’re urged to throw away things that are still perfectly serviceable just so someone can make a profit off you. Why do you have fifty pairs of shoes? Are you a centipede? Why have you become almost totally dependent on “electronics” to the point where you can’t brush your own teeth without a battery-operated brush? To the point where you can’t sit still without the distraction of a cell phone, an I-pod, a CD or DVD player, a TV, a radio, a laptop, videogames and video cameras, etc., etc., etc. to keep reality from staring you in the face?

In the late 60s, I worked for the Singer Company. Our repair department worked on, maybe two, of the durable old metal head machines. Ah, but those plastic and aluminum machines were a gold mine! They fell apart on cue and kept our repairman - unlike the Maytag repairman of myth - completely occupied. It’s a sewing machine! Why should you ever need to buy another one, or take it in for monthly servicing like our new, half-plastic cars?

In the 80s, I worked for a “vintage” clothing operation. Most of the stuff was perfectly good clothing that Americans had bought - for no particular reason - and then discarded to buy more clothing - for no particular reason. My best friend’s sister refused to shop with us for those horrible pieces of used clothing that had once been on someone else’s body. Had she not heard of soap and hot water? Then she bought her husband a vintage Hawaiian shirt - for $300 - that had been worn in the 50s. Duh?

You know you have a closet, an attic, a garage and/or a storage unit jammed full of things that get tossed in never to be seen again. And when you finally ship those Neiman-Marcus vests, Nikes, Levis, Bill Blass and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, Land’s End and Eddie Bauer “outdoorswear”, Liz Claiborne blouses and Tommy Hilfiger shirts - I could go on and on - to a thrift shop or try to unload them at a garage sale, I swoop in and scoop them up for next to nothing. And while you may never have worn your new jeans, I will wear them “forever”. Denim, in particular, is durable. I’ve not bought a “new” pair of jeans since the 70s. I wait for you to make the initial stupid purchase with your hard-earned money and then discard them for me to scarf up for two dollars or less. Who’s the fool? I will not pay $20, let alone $70 and up, to allow some gross capitalist to use my ass as an unpaid billboard to advertise his overpriced products.

Shop at thrift stores and garage sales. You can get new, or practically new, linens, housewares, shoes, clothes, furniture, even “home decor” that someone like you has bought, looked at and discarded. And you know it’s true because that’s just what you do. I’ve probably bought your stuff, your nearly brand new stuff, that you spent your hard-earned cash on and then just got rid of to buy some more. You incredible dumbass, you! This is happening because we are so willing to believe what advertisers are selling - a style, a lifestyle, a life, an identity, a self, a soul. Something, anything to fill up the time so we don’t have to think about what’s happening in this country and confront it. The hole in your soul cannot be filled with stuff.

Further, why pays hundreds of times what this stuff is worth over and over again? A car is a set of wheels that takes you someplace. When you insist on having a new package to set on top those wheels every year, who’s the fool? Who’s in debt? Who’s making money off you? Could your kids have used that money for college?

Yes, “even” clip coupons. Form coupon networks. As much as possible buy only what you need when it’s on sale at a place that doubles your coupons. There are at least two competing supermarkets in your town. Don’t buy your kids stupid, empty calories that will addict them, and you, to wanting more and more and more of them, all the while creating diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, even cancer. And, even if there’s a coupon for it, don’t buy it because it’s a “deal” - it’s no bargain if you buy something you don’t need or can’t use. Make no mistake, it’s making some corporate overlord rich off your back while he’s making you and your kids sick, maybe killing you. Why should you pay him to do it?

Check the ingredients. For instance, ALL pain relievers are generic. Most are either ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin with some added caffeine. Read the labels. They’re all the same. Only the labels and the marketing rap are different. You’re paying to have a particular story told to you about the product that you want to believe is superior. The drugs in the products are identical, brand-to-brand exactly the same.

Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues… While there might be a difference in square footage, the amount of synthetic fragrance or number of plies, they’re all just paper tools. Try them all out and pick the one that suits you best at the cheapest price. It might just be a generic. And you don’t want the toxic dyes in the “artwork” on the expensive paper towels anyway. Better yet, get a good old-fashioned cotton dishtowel and wash it. Stop paying two dollars a roll for something to throw away.

Tip. I used to clean houses for a living. The best glass (and surface) cleaner you’ll ever use is one-half ammonia and one-half windshield washer fluid. Buy each for a dollar a gallon and you’ve got two gallons of cleaning fluid for $2.00, where if you bought one of those money-eaters you’d get about 22 ounces for about $4.00. How ripped off do you want to be?

Are you using products like these, or are they using you? More exactly, are you being used and abused to make someone else a lot of money? Do you wash linens - towels, sheets, etc. - a few times, find them a bit faded and send them off to the Salvation Army or the dump? These are tools, not works of art. If you think your tools are a measure of who you are, these tools that are here for you to use, not be used by, then you’re on a path straight to the funny farm. Who’s the tool? You’re the tool. A capitalist’s tool to make him some money. That’s addiction. Get a clue. Investigate. Don’t get ripped off. Get over.

They pay billions of dollars in advertising to get you to spend your money to addict your kids and/or make them sick, to drive yourself into debt and then they blame you for doing exactly what they paid those billions to get you to do. Oh, I know. I know. It doesn’t work on you.

Coke? Or Pepsi? Ford? Or Chevy? Jif? Or Skippy? Scott? Or Charmin? Crest? Or Colgate? Palmolive? Or Ajax? You know you’re branded when you have to have only a certain “brand” of cola, car, peanut butter, toilet paper, toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, etc. They don’t pay all those billions because it doesn’t work. And if they’re paying billions to advertise to get you to buy it, how much must they be making off you? L’Oreal? Or Garnier Fructis? It’s shampoo, people. Get a grip!

And what’s on TV that you need to pay to see? Someone else’s trashy life? Scripted unreality shows? The “lives” of made-up people? “News” that’s little more than propaganda? Turn off the TV! Get a life of your own! Turn off all those techno gadgets. Go to a community meeting. Help an elderly neighbor. Read a book. Write one. Knit someone a warm shawl. Don’t get numbed out by the distractions. Don’t let TV drain away your soul, addict you, lure you into giving up your hard-earned money for useless bullshit and wasting the very precious moments of your one and only, very precious life.

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Vi's works appear widely both in print and online. She conducts Poetry Workshops and gives readings in Central New York. Her latest chapbook is "Sine Qua Non Antiques (an Arcanum of History, Geography and Treachery).

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Such good points here! We have been living this wa... by Bia Winter on Saturday, Mar 8, 2008 at 9:45:41 AM
There seems to be an entertainment value to buying... by PrMaine on Saturday, Mar 8, 2008 at 11:35:34 AM
You tell 'em VI!! Way to go sister!  I ha... by leequist on Saturday, Mar 8, 2008 at 10:09:08 PM