It’s a new year, and the way it begins may be one where the irrational and the surreal completely replace the reality of our past.
Change has been developing slowly for some time, but social change, despite the occasional revolution, tends to start with a small incident and then gradually expand until the day we realize the world we once knew is gone. . For example, I doubt his neighbors noticed much when a primitive man first worked carefully to sharpen a stone into an axe-like tool, but when his companion examined and copied it, the change took place. installed. The change that has just come to fruition, I believe, started with the disposable razor. Razors were items that were once so valuable that they were passed down from generation to generation. Suddenly they were used once and thrown away.
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We saw further hints of what was to come when, in the second half of the last century, the government began paying farmers not to plant crops. The government has also purchased much of the milk produced by dairies across the country, only to dispose of it down the drain. Soon, the “throwaway” became an essential part of the national economy. Manufacturers have adopted a “planned obsolescence” policy for their products. A few decades passed before we started to hear the phrase “Don’t fix; replace.” I wondered where this would all end.
Then the other day I noticed some kind of “human interest” filler, the kind of thing the media throws on the page to fill a few inches of newsprint. The bottom line was this: More and more retailers are not restocking returned goods. Instead, they carry the items – clothing, small appliances, decorative items, etc. – directly to the landfill. Sometimes, the report adds, they refund the purchase price and tell the buyer to keep the item or dispose of it themselves.
When I heard about this new policy, I thought it sounded like an incident from a dystopian science fiction story. This would, I realized, be a small, but logical, step to eliminate the middle man, ie, the consumer, altogether. So the manufacturers would buy the raw materials, hire the workers, go through the process of manufacturing and packaging the items, and then transport them from the loading dock directly to the landfill. Those who still adhere to the old reality may not see the logic of such an undertaking, but if they remember that a nation’s economy always thrives in times of war – when the country’s factories are engaged in producing goods intended to be destroyed, exploded, burned, etc. — then we begin to understand the new reality.
Having established that a war economy is the best economy, governments had to create an atmosphere of “quasi-war”, “cold war”, “police action” or “undeclared war” as we have seen recently in Afghanistan. Thus, the threat of all-out war is continuous and the large military budget can be justified, helping to grow the economy while producing nothing. Such a policy also ensures that the nation has an enemy. As Orwell illustrated in his novel “1984”, a stable government should always have an enemy. The enemy may change from decade to decade, but enemies not only ensure domestic tranquility, but they also justify non-utilitarian economic policies.
In a related issue last month, the James Webb Telescope was launched into space at a cost of $8.8 billion. It is expected to give us insight into the origin of the universe. What we will do with this information is anyone’s guess. Yet it fits well with the new reality of our “productless” economy.
So there it is.
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This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: Chuck Avery: The New Economic Policy Started With Disposable Razors