I first published this article on November 20th with the title “The risk of being a ‘consumer'”. Then I made made some significant revisions and republished a significantly “new” article on November 25th with the current title (“Notes on the Coming War Against Consumers”).
Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World; A.D. 1932) wrote that,
“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.”
There’s a 3-minute video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgYbchc6gII of the “Black Friday” shopping “riots” that we’ve seen in the past and can expect to see again this Thanksgiving and on the following “Black Friday”. Consumers run wild for the privilege of purchasing a few scraps of colored plastic and bits of electronic circuitry.
I believe that these “consumers” are the sort of people who “love their servitude“. If so, Huxley’s prediction is coming to pass.
Watching the video, you gotta admit, these “riots” look like fun. People are grinning and laughing as they jostle to buy some “stuff”. They really do “love their servitude”. The video is certainly funny to see.
But the video also unnerving. These consumers are no better behaved than a pack of monkeys at the zoo. You can almost imagine the rich and powerful throwing some plastic trinkets down into the midst of the “Black Friday shoppers” and laughing among themselves at how funny it is to see the “consumers” scramble for bits of trash like baboons squabbling for marshmallows on Monkey Island.
What do these people–these “consumers“–do besides eat, sleep, drink, fornicate, reproduce, and shop for “stuff”? Do their lives have meaning other than to “consume”? What do they produce? How many fit the description of “useless eaters” provided by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger?
• For the rest of this article, I’m going to compare “consumers” to “producers”.
What do I mean by “consumers” and “producers”?
After all, we all consume. Even those in a coma are consumers. If you have a pulse, you must eat, you must breathe, have clothes and shelter. Therefore, you’re a consumer. I’m a consumer. Everyone who is alive is a consumer.
And most of us also produce goods or services–at least during the prime of our lives. So you could argue that all of us are also “producers”.
But my distinction between “consumers” and “producers” is one of net. Whether you’re a net “consumer” or a net “producer” depends on whether you consume more than you produce or produce more than you consume.
If you mostly consume, you’re a consumer”. If you produce more than you consume, you’re a “producer”.
• There was a time when this world needed people like today’s consumers. Our civilization was sufficiently crude that we needed the physical labor of people who weren’t all that intelligent, educated or motivated to push brooms, stack boxes in warehouses, and shovel dirt from ditches. But, thanks to machines, automation and robots, we no longer need many of these “Black Friday shoppers”.
Worse, a lot of consumers are simply incapable of producing anything of value at minimum wage in this level of civilization. In a highly technological society, how many people understand how to write software or do research in chemistry? Many of our “consumers” have become a permanently dependent class who probably can’t survive in the modern world without welfare, subsidies and “entitlements”—or violence.
• But what “entitles” a “consumer” who can’t produce enough to support himself and his family to claim the wealth of another man who is a “producer”?
My answer is that all of us were made in God’s image as per Genesis 1:26-28, and we therefore have an obligation to help and support each other. That’s a cliché that’s easily said and easily ignored–but that’s my answer.
However, it seems certain that people in the “producer” class–especially the super-rich–find my answer unpersuasive. The producers are asking, Why should they be required to support all of the “consumers”? They’re asking, Why do we need all the consumers other than to purchase more plastic gee-gaws to give each other at Christmas, and then stack up in their garages?
These questions have dangerous moral overtones, but they’re not irrational.
Why should “producers” continue to tear up the world in order to support a mass of “consumers” who are unable to produce anything other than more “consumers”? Why should those who are productive be forced to support those who are, at best, only reproductive?
• We’re fast approaching a time when automation and robots will render much of the population not only unproductive but also unnecessary. Inevitably, the relatively few remaining producers will ask Why should we support consumers who are, themselves, unnecessary?
And inevitably, producers who ask some of these questions will begin to ask another–if only silently: Why shouldn’t the “herd” be culled to remove most of the consumers and “Black Friday shoppers”?
I guarantee that the richest 1% of this nation (and just because they’re rich doesn’t mean they are “producers”) and the world are talking among themselves about the “consumer problem”. They may have another name for the problem, but I guarantee that they’re preparing themselves for a moment when a huge number of “consumers” will be openly killed or merely allowed to die due to extreme political and economic circumstances.
Do producers need concentration camps to kill of the bottom 20% of this society? Or do producers merely need a severe and prolonged economic collapse (wherein the consumers will kill each other)?
Do producers need guillotines or gas chambers to kill the non-productive? Or can producers achieve the same result by merely shutting down the power grid for a month or two . . . or even by instituting Obamacare, complete with “death panels”?
• To be clear, I’m not advocating that “consumers” be “culled” by “producers”.
However, I am warning that in a world where the supply of resources is diminishing, forces are mounting that will inevitably seek to dramatically reduce the number of “consumers”.
I’m also not advocating that government voluntarily stop providing welfare or subsidies. (There’s no point to that advocacy since it’ll never happen.)
But, I am advocating that as a matter of personal survival, you need to stop taking, or even planning to take, the government’s hand-outs. You need to change your mindset to recognize the psychological danger of becoming a dependent/consumer. You need to find a way to live on less than your produce–even if that means you leave your $250,000 house to move into a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment.
• I believe we’re coming to a time when it will be dangerous to be a “consumer”.
And I’m not talking five or ten years from now. Parts of this country are already over-populated by “consumers”.
For example, some of Detroit looks like the ruins of a city bombed out in WWII. Why? Because Detroit has been overwhelmed by its consumers. Having lost sufficient producers to keep the city functional, the consumers of Detroit live lives characterized by poverty, disease, criminality, robbery, violence and shortened life expectancies. Without the presence of sufficient producers, the consumers are reduced to predating on each other like a tribe of starving cannibals.
East L.A. is similar. Every major city has impoverished districts where the consumers are so predominant that the producers have left in fear for their lives.
In the end, community poverty and violence are primarily the result of too many consumers and too few producers.
• The poverty that’s obvious among Blacks and Hispanics is increasingly shared by Whites and even Asians. The way out of poverty is not merely having wealth (in the sense that you can receive hand-outs from the government, liar’s loans from the banks, or Master Cards to pay off your Visas). The way out of poverty is by persistently producing more wealth than you consume.
The primary characteristic of producers is savings. If you can save any part of your income, you’re a producer (and that includes saving in a medium that can’t be easily confiscated).
Conversely, the primary characteristic of any “consumer” is debt. If you’re deeply in debt, you are a consumer.
(Incidentally, who’s the world’s biggest debtor? The US gov-co. By that measure, the US gov-co is also the world’s biggest consumer.)
More, you don’t have to produce $1 billion per year to be a “producer”. If you produce just $10,000 a year, but live on $8,000–and save $2,000—you’re a net “producer”.
If you’d like to avoid winding up in the “ghettos” among masses of predatory consumers, you don’t need a Mc Mansion. You need a modest home you can actually afford without much stress in a neighborhood populated by other producers. You need a job or a business where you can continue to produce more than you consume. You need to become a producer–not just in fact, but even in your mind. Regardless of your income, you need to adopt the values of producers.
If you’re going to rely on welfare, subsidies, “entitlements” or credit to survive–even if you can legally do so–you’re diminishing yourself in a way that will render you vulnerable and perhaps defenseless when the excess consumers are inevitably “culled”.
• Some people think of the super-rich as super greedy, super-pathological, lovers of money and perhaps wicked. There’s some truth to that opinion. The top 1% are undoubtedly trying to pig all the wealth of this world for themselves. They’re unwilling to share the wealth with the other 99%. That greed seems morally wrong.
There was a time when accusing the rich of excessive greed would’ve been based on the fact most all of the remaining 99% made a contribution to producing the excess wealth acquired by the top 1% and were being underpaid for their contributions. The distribution of wealth (production) was unfair and unreasonable. The super-wealthy consumed beyond what they personally earned and were therefore “consumers”. Excess consumption by the rich can lead to violent revolutions and guillotines. Ask the French.
But, today, the “bottom” 99% can’t all claim to have somehow contributed to the production of the wealth acquired by the top 1%. Without having contributed to the production of wealth, what’s the moral basis for any adult’s claim to a share of that wealth?
• According to government, 7% of Americans are unemployed. John Williams at Shadowstats.com says the real unemployment number is about 22%. Whatever the true level of unemployment may be, it’s obvious that the unemployed are consuming but not producing anything. They are net consumers.
It may be that they could produce, they want to produce, and they are not producing through no fault of their own. Nevertheless, so long as they’re not producing, what’s the basis for their claim on the wealth being currently accumulated by the top 1%?
Then, there’s the people on welfare—almost 13 million; over 4% of the US population. They don’t produce anything. What’s the moral basis for their claim on the wealth of the producers?
What about government employees? They’re about 7% of the population. How many produce anything that the free market would value? Insofar as they produce nothing tangible (and are overpaid besides) what’s the basis for their claim on the wealth of the nation’s producers?
What about illegal aliens? 20 million, maybe more. Many are producers; they work for peanuts and live on less. Others, however, are consumers who take more than they produce.
How many farmers and businessmen who appear to be “producers” are, in fact, receiving sufficient subsidies from government to be net “consumers”?
According to Mitt Romney, 47% of Americans receive some sort of support from the government. It’s not necessary true that all of those 47% are net consumers, but it’s likely that most of ‘em are.
The bigshots on Wall Street would have us believe that they’re all red-blooded capitalists fighting for their share of the American dream and therefore “producers”. But most of them would be bankrupt and perhaps imprisoned if they hadn’t: 1) bribed Congressmen to pass laws favoring their various rackets; and 2) received (now) $85 billion per month to shore up their failing financial institutions. These tycoons have acquired wealth, but have they produced wealth? Probably not. If they haven’t produced as much as they’ve consumed, they’re consumers rather than producers.
As I’ve already written, you can make $10,000 a year and still be a “producer” if you live on $8,000. But, likewise, you can earn $500 million a year on Wall Street and still be a “consumer” if $300 million of your income was ultimately derived from government subsidies.
• It’s probably the natural order of things that most people in any society are net consumers and only a minority are net producers. But that minority of producers must be maintained at some minimum level or the society will implode.
It may take a minimum of thirty producers to support 100 consumers. Maybe it takes only twenty. But certainly, 100 consumers can’t survive with only one producer.
When consumers not only outnumber the producers, but also embrace the philosophy that they’re entitled to the producers’ wealth, the nation plunges toward a condition where everywhere resembles bombed-out Detroit. That condition won’t be escaped or even alleviated until the people rediscover their need to respect, honor and emulate their producers.
America is running out of producers. More, the ranks of the “consumers” are growing. Worse, we’ve embraced a collectivist belief in “entitlements” and the idiotic, suicidal notion that we can become prosperous in a “consumer-based economy”.
As the number of net producers falls, the ever-dependent consumers will become more aggressive in their need to predate upon the producers.
In Detroit, the man who runs a small Bar-B-Q joint and produces $200 a day for himself can expect to be repeatedly robbed and perhaps murdered by the neighborhood thug-consumers who are so dependent, that $200 justifies robbery. Eventually, the thug-consumers will so impoverish that restaurant owner that he abandons his business. The local community will lose one more producer and slide deeper into dependence and “consumerism”.
• But that consumer-thug mentality is not confined to Detroit or other ghettos. It’s common in Congress where they pass bills like Obamacare or support policies like QE3 that essentially predate on the nation’s producers in order to serve the nation’s consumers.
Two months ago, I wrote about a study by two economists who concluded that if government regulations had remained at the level that existed in A.D. 1949, today’s median household annual income ($53,000) would be over $300,000. Government regulations favor consumers but destroy producers.
Government, itself, produces nothing and is a pure consumer, so it’s no surprise that government naturally favors the consumer “mentality”.
Worse, given that we live in a democracy and consumers naturally outnumber producers, most politicians who wants to be elected must embrace a pro-consumer philosophy. (It’s arguable that a fundamental purpose of the Constitution was to respect and protect the producers from the insatiable consumers.)
Result? We’re predating upon, destroying, and therefore running out of producers.
Evidence? Our standard of living hasn’t increased in 40 years. Many of our industries and productive jobs have been shipped to foreign countries. Our economy would collapse right now for lack of producers and production—except that we’ve borrowed or printed enough fiat currency to temporarily conceal our non-productive nature.
Solution? Deep, dire, economic depression.
There’s no way that anyone will convince most of the America’s consumers that they need to become (or even respect) the nation’s producers. There are no words, no speeches, no speakers or writers who are sufficiently articulate or charismatic to convince the 47% who are taking checks from the government that they need to voluntarily stop doing so.
We may all agree in theory that something’s got to be done about the rest of those freeloaders, but virtually none of us will agree in fact that our own “entitlement” should be stopped.
Go ahead and try to stop welfare payments to black consumers in “d’ hood” and what’ll happen? The greedy, ungrateful, violence-prone black consumers will riot and burn down a chunk of the cities where they live.
But, if you think black consumers are bad, go ahead and just mention the possibility that the Federal Reserve may start “tapering” the $85 billion in hand-outs they currently inject into the economy each month, and the white consumers will figuratively threaten to “riot” and “burn down” the indexes in the stock exchanges and precipitate an economic collapse.
As a nation, we’ve become so addicted to “free lunches,” “something for nothing” and “entitlements,” that we will never voluntarily abandon the consumer lifestyle and mentality.
Implication? The only way we’ll stop being net consumers is by force. The only way we’ll abandon our free lunches and the consumer lifestyle is to have them beaten out of us by the relentless “hard knocks” of a brutal, long-term economic depression.
• Look at the former Soviet Union. The Russians embraced the communists’ “consumer mentality” for 69 years and thereby destroyed and cannibalized most of whatever producers remained in Russia. Then, in A.D. 1991, Soviet “consumerism” collapsed under the weight of their consumers. A decade of poverty, chaos, lawlessness, violence and a diminished life expectancy followed.
Result? Their decade-long economic depression and the humiliation of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, forced the former communist-consumers to “learn their place” and recognize the truth that their very survival depended on their “producers”. After ten years of brutal depression, the Russians began to respect and even emulate the values of those producers.
I can’t say that all communist-consumerism has died in Russia. But there’s been a change in values to allow producers to increase to a level sufficient to support the Russian nation and even allow it to regain its status as one of the world’s most productive and therefore powerful nations.
• If America doesn’t restore respect for producers and suppress the forces of consumerism (and I don’t think we will or even can), we can expect to follow the former Soviet Union’s example.
It’s unlikely (but not impossible) that the fifty States of the Union will disintegrate into several smaller nations. But when the U.S. inevitably collapses under the weight of its consumers, we can expect to see a decade of “hell on earth” as many of our consumers and much of our consumer mentality are repudiated and flushed out. Those who can’t learn to produce more than they consume will be forced to live on even less than they produce. Consumer poverty will become manifest and traumatic. Consumers’ life expectancies will be shortened by premature, or even violent, death.
And don’t forget my previous observation that the primary characteristic of consumers is debt, that the world’s biggest debtor is the U.S. gov-co—and that, therefore, the gov-co is the world’s biggest consumer.
If that analysis is correct, the government itself will soon be forced to at least stop borrowing, cut spending significantly, and shrink dramatically in size and power. Like the rest of us, it will be compelled to live within its means. That compulsion will drive gov-co to desperate acts of confiscation whereby it robs producers or even other consumers—just like any other consumer-thug on the streets in a Dee-troit “hood”.
If you want to survive the coming correction, I suggest that you “get your mind right”. I suggest that you abandon all trace of your consumer values and diligently seek to understand and emulate the values of producers. Learn how to survive independently. Learn how to produce. Learn how to live within your means and without debt. Learn how to protect whatever wealth you produce from confiscation by the nation’s innumerable and insatiable consumer-thugs—which certainly include the government.