Santa Claus – My Hero

Picture of tired Santa Claus

Santa Claus.  I feel sorry for the old boy.  He works his tail off all year monitoring all the little rugrats for badness and goodness, makes all the toys, and drives a somewhat limited delivery system through rain, sleet, hail and dark of night to deliver all those presents on time and for WHAT?   He’s been officially named the poster boy for everything that’s bad about commercialism, consumerism, and materialism. Yes, the annual rants are out again this time of year decrying the waste and expense of all the “stuff” we buy, use, and throw away.

But, ya know what?  I don’t feel the least bit ashamed of spending as much of my meager bank account on as many things that I can and giving those things to other people.  Do you want to know why?

Here’s reason #1

Everything we consume, whether it’s food, housing, clothing, toys, electronics,  or gadgets goes through the same process to get to our homes.  Someone comes up with an idea.  Resources are gathered to produce the product or service.  The products are manufactured and the services are equipped with the tools of the trade. Marketing is used to introduce the product to the people.  A delivery system is used to get the product to you and a customer service department is there to listen to you complain.  Every single part of this process needs employees to advance the product to the next level – employees like you and me, the neighbor and the country folks, and other businesses whose employees provide support.

When you think of all that goes into the gift that you just gave someone, the positive economic impact is almost immeasurable – not only for this one gift, but the employees responsible for bringing this gift to you are now able to buy whatever product or service the company you work for provides.

As beneficial as buying a gift might seem, it’s still rampant consumerism, isn’t it?   So let’s say that you could snap your fingers and a miracle would happen.  Excluding food, clothing, and shelter nobody would buy anything else.  OK. We’ve got to have schools and doctors and nurses.  And we should probably have transportation to get to the schools, hospitals and general store.  It would be environmentally beneficial and cheaper to use horses.  I guess we need someone to build windmills to pump water and wood stoves to keep us warm.  Lucky me, you’ll need someone to make horseshoes for your horse and wagons and wagon wheels.   You see, this is already getting out of hand, but if we could snap our fingers and a miracle would happen, how many of the 330 million people in the U.S. would actually have a job afterward?

A lot of people don’t like consumerism.  They don’t like Big Business and they don’t like that our country is so obsessed with buying stuff.  I’m guessing that they would be first ones to quit their jobs and close down the company they work for so less stuff is being made. You think they would do that, don’t you?  No?  I don’t either.  They want us to quit buying so much, but keep buying the product that their company makes.  That’s only fair, isn’t it?

Consumerism creates an environment where a person with a great idea for a product  can cut a deal on Shark Tank and be selling a million dollars worth of product within a year, employing scores of people who didn’t have a job before then.  That’s a good thing.

If you want to be a minimalist – great.  Just don’t get on your soap box every Christmas and criticize those who don’t.  We’re the ones who keep the economy going and people employed – including you.

Reason #2 for buying a whole bunch of stuff and giving it to other people

The joy I feel in my heart when I see the excitement on someone’s face as they open their gift.  That’s the best reason of all.




I Profile People

The last ten years that I worked at Ford Motor Company, I was working in Statistical Process Control.  In 1958, Charles Demming created a system of data collection and analysis that allowed us to understand and improve  manufacturing processes, among many other things. Our mantra was: Manage with Facts.

To begin the process, a minimum amount of data has to be collected over time, so the results will have credibility.  After the data is collected, it is plotted in its proper place relative to all the other similar data.  The visual representation of the compiled data will be a “Bell Curve” like the one pictured here.


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Big Business Isn’t the Problem

Only Government Can Make You Do Anything

I’m reading a book that I really enjoy, but the author is continuously saying that  “Big Pharma” (the pharmaceutical industry) or “Madison Avenue” (the ad agencies in concert with “Big Business”) are causing us to make bad decisions that affect our lives.

It’s true that businesses want to make a profit.  It’s true that they use creative methods to advertise their products or services.  It’s true that they don’t actively advertise the possible negative effects that overuse or misuse of their product may produce, but they can’t make us do anything.

Have you ever wondered why there’s a label (required by Government) on a power lawnmower that warns against putting your hand under the deck while it’s running?  How about the warning label that tells us to not use the hair dryer in the shower?  What about the label that tells us to not stand on the top of a step ladder? We all know the reason that these labels exist, don’t we?  Some lame-brain has already either maimed or killed themselves by putting their hand under a running lawnmower, using a blow dryer in the shower, or standing on the top of a step ladder.  Some people aren’t too bright.

I’m going to be nervy, here and suggest that if you think that the government should protect us from all advertising and other persuasive methods that businesses employ, maybe you need a warning label about watching advertisements.

I hope that all of you know that the only thing that Big Pharma and Big Business can do is TEMPT you to take action in some way or another.  They can’t garnish your paycheck, put you in jail, or threaten your life if you don’t buy their product or service.  Now, you might say that they are misrepresenting their products or services.  That could be, but there are already laws that punish that behavior.  If it were true that advertising could make you do something that you shouldn’t or buy something that you really didn’t want, then virtually everyone would be susceptible to advertising about everything.

That’s simply not true.  Ask a life-long Vegan how much deceptive advertising it would take before they would eventually grab a greasy, hormone-injected double Whopper with bacon on it and wolf it down.   My guess is that they would tell you that no amount of advertising in the world could make them do that.  As a former alcoholic, I can tell you that nothing – financial disaster, loss of a loved one, or terminal illness, much less deceptive advertising – would cause me to drink another drop of alcohol.   The same is true about luxury cars.  Someone would have to give me a luxury car before I would own one and even then, I’d trade it in for a truck as soon as I could.

There’s a reason why the Vegan and I can’t be tempted in these specific areas.  It’s because there’s nothing in our subconscious mind that sees any value in having the burger, the booze, or the luxury car.  As many of you know, it takes almost no advertising for me to buy another handgun.  They just have to advertise a brand or caliber that I don’t already have.  Here’s a small list of things that I could be tempted by or that I’m not susceptible to be tempted by:

  • Dark chocolate with almonds – susceptible
  • Full time job – not susceptible
  • Pasta – not susceptible
  • Smoking – not susceptible
  • Tools – susceptible
  • Suits – not susceptible (but could be a legitimate necessity at some time)
  • Cowboy boots – susceptible
  • Pets – not susceptible
  • Anything my grandkids want – highly susceptible

What does your list look like.  Do you have things that you would never be tempted by?

The point is – if you’re running up credit card debt, don’t blame the credit card companies and the product advertisers.  There’s something inside of you that wants stuff that you can’t afford.  If you’re still smoking after your first drag off a cigarette that nearly choked you to death, there’s a belief inside you about cigarette smoking that most people don’t share.  If you buy a $300,000 house with nothing down, and monthly payments of $250 a month for the first two years and you don’t think there’s anything odd about that, it’s ‘cause your subconscious desire to own a house completely obliterated any common sense you might have had.  Don’t blame the mortgage company.  I had a client who was a second-generation welfare recipient with an extremely limited education who bought a house with a sub-prime loan and even she knew enough to convert it well before her payments were scheduled to go up.  If you change the meaning attached to having these things, you’ll stop being tempted to have them.

Let’s take a little personal responsibility, here. Until we challenge our internal reasoning about these things, how about if we start an accountability partnership.   You keep me away from dark chocolate, tools, guns, and cowboy boots, and I’ll keep you away from the stuff that you’re tempted by, but let’s get over blaming everyone else for the self-inflicted misery that comes from being undisciplined, uneducated, and naïve.  O.K?