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PEACOCK SYNDROME - AMERICA'S FATAL DISEASE

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"There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution."  - Aldous Huxley

 

Researchers at the University of Texas recently published a study about why men buy or lease flashy, extravagant, expensive cars like a gold plated Porsche Carrera GT. There conclusion was:

"Although showy spending is often perceived as wasteful, frivolous and even narcissistic, an evolutionary perspective suggests that blatant displays of resources may serve an important function, namely as a communication strategy designed to gain reproductive rewards."

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To put that in laymen's terms, guys drive flashy expensive cars so they can get laid. Researcher Dr Vladas Griskevicius said: "The studies show that some men are like peacocks.  They're the ones driving the bright colored sports car."

Lead author Dr Jill Sundie said: "This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks." The male urge to merge with hot women led them to make fiscally irresponsible short term focused decisions. I think the researchers needed to broaden the scope of their study. Millions of Americans, men and women inclusive, have been infected with Peacock Syndrome. Millions of delusional Americans thought owning flashy things, living in the biggest McMansion, and driving a higher series BMW made them more attractive, more successful, and the most dazzling peacock in the zoo.

This is not an attribute specific to Americans, but a failing of all humans throughout history. Charles Mackay captured this human impulse in his 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds:

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"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

The herd has been mad since 1970 and with the post economic collapse of 2008, some people are recovering their senses slowly, and one by one. The country was overrun by flocks of ostentatious peacocks displaying their plumage in an effort to impress their friends, families and work colleagues. What set the flaunting American peacocks apart was the fact they financed their splendid display of plumage with $0 down and 0% interest for seven years.  The lifestyles of the rich and famous miraculously became available to the poor and middle class through the availability of easy abundant credit provided by the friendly kind hearted Wall Street banks and their heroin dealers at the Federal Reserve.

The United States has experienced a four decade long "expenditure cascade".  An expenditure cascade occurs when the rapid income growth of top earners fuels additional spending by the lower earner wannabes. The cascade begins among top earners, which encourages the middle class to spend more which, in turn, encourages the lower class to spend more. Ultimately, these expenditure cascades reduce the amount that each family saves, as there is less money available to save due to extra spending on frivolous discretionary items. Expenditure cascades are triggered by consumption. The consumption of the wealthy triggers increased spending in the class directly below them and the chain continues down to the bottom. This is a dangerous reaction for those at the bottom who have little disposable income originally and even less after they attempt to keep up with others spending habits.

This cascade of expenditures could not have occurred without cheap easy credit, supplied by Wall Street shysters and abetted by their puppets at the Federal Reserve through their inflationary policies. Real wages are lower today than they were in 1970. Coincidentally, the credit card began its ascendance as the peacock payment of choice in 1970. There are now over 600 million credit cards in circulation in the U.S. in the hands of 177 million fully plumed peacocks and peacock wannabes.

Monthly Payment Nation

"Consumerism re­quires the services of expert salesmen versed in all the arts (including the more insidious arts) of persuasion. Under a free enterprise system commercial propa­ganda by any and every means is absolutely indis­pensable. But the indispensable is not necessarily the desirable. What is demonstrably good in the sphere of economics may be far from good for men and women as voters or even as human beings."  - Aldous Huxley

 

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The country seemed to do just fine from 1945 through 1970 with no credit card debt and moderate levels of auto loan debt. In fact, this period in U.S. history was marked by strong economic growth created by capital investment, savings, and the American middle class realizing the American dream of a better life based upon their work ethic. Around about 1970, the intersection of Baby Boomers coming of age, the belief that social justice for all was a noble goal, and Nixon's closing the gold window, opened Pandora's Box and the evil released has brought the country to the precipice of ruin. Today, consumer credit outstanding totals $2.43 trillion, or $22,000 per household. It peaked at $2.6 trillion in 2008 and the storyline fed to the masses was that Americans had seen the light and embraced frugality by paying off their debts. As with most storylines spouted by the mainstream media, it was completely false. The Wall Street banks wrote off over $200 billion since 2008, while delusional peacocks continued to finance and lease gas guzzling luxury automobiles, while charging their purchase of an iPad2 and Lady Gaga concert tickets on one of their 13 credit cards.

It seems a vast swath of America refuse to shed their peacock feathers. This explains why you see BMWs, Mercedes, Escalades, and Porsches parked in the driveways of $100,000 houses. Automobiles are the truest representation of American peacock syndrome. Very few people look at a car purchase in a rational long term financial sense. It's about impressing the neighbors, your peers and your family. Driving a brand new luxury car gives you the appearance of success. The neighbors don't know you are in debt up to your eyeballs. This explains why 30% to 40% of all luxury cars are leased. A man could buy a $20,000 Honda hybrid with 10% down and finance the rest at 0.9% for three years. His monthly payment would be $500. After three years he would own the car outright, with the added benefit of getting 45 mpg. He could then invest the $500 per month for the next seven years in gold and silver or something else that benefits from Federal Reserve created inflation. In today's society this would be the act of a doo doo bird.

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James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. James has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 22-year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of (more...)
 

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