November 16, 2007 at 2:03 pm #26080
-This is in responce to this news report on a philosophy of strong local economies make strong world economy. In my opinion the Roman empire created the ground for the dark age to grow. Of cousre there is common ground between philosophies, as in you donot have to be tribal and primative and you do not have to be an empire. As michael likes to say hes wants the whole enchilada, or best of both worlds. http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/11/15/consumed6_pm_1/#
Learn a lesson from the Dark Ages
Kai Ryssdal: A lot of the suggested fixes for what ails the consumer economy have a distinct back-to-the-future ring about them: That somehow we have to return to the economic models of the 19th century to make it to the 22nd. Not everyone buys that argument, of course. Commentator David Frum among them.
David Frum: You’ve just heard from people who think the key to human survival is to cut ourselves off from the world economy and buy and sell only in local markets. This approach has been tried before — in Europe, after the fall of the Roman Empire. We call this period the Dark Ages.
Papyrus from Egypt disappeared from north of the Alps, and people reverted to writing on animal skins. Grain from Gaul stopped arriving in Rome, and the population of the city dwindled from over a million to a few thousand. For the next millennium, a local crop failure brought famine and death.
Europe and North America left that world behind in the 19th century, and much of the rest of the planet is now following. The past 15 years have seen the most dramatic reduction of poverty in the history of the human race, as hundreds of millions of Chinese and South Asians have rejoined the global trading system.
Yet some worry it cannot continue — that we’ll pollute ourselves to death or run out of resources. These worries ignore both evidence and history. Human ingenuity creates resources as fast as we consume them.
Believe it or not, the proven oil reserves of the United States today are virtually identical to what they were in 1973. As for pollution, the richer we get, the cleaner we get. Virtually every lake and river in the United States is cleaner than it was a generation ago. Ditto the air in any major city. Richer people demand cleaner environments — and unlike, say, medieval villagers, they can afford to pay for them.
Which is not to argue against buying local produce. I do it whenever I can — it’s tastier. It’s also more expensive, but thanks to the wealth produced by ever-expanding technology and world trade, I can afford it. After two or three more decades of growth through trade, so (I hope) will millions more, in this country and throughout the world.
Ryssdal: David Frum worked as a speechwriter for President Bush. He’s now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise InstituteNovember 16, 2007 at 7:56 pm #26081November 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm #26083
-Also one of the funniest lines is in this show.
“Strasser: One of the rabbis — the Cincinnati rabbi — famously said that the Hebrew race had been waiting 4,000 years for Crisco.”
I always new they where waiting for cris.
Crisco: A marketing revolution
TEXT OF STORY
KAI RYSSDAL: So how did thrift get to be a vice, and consumption a virtue? It wasn’t all that long ago Americans had to be taught to consume, too. Our sustainability reporter Sarah Gardner brings us a slice of the story.
Sarah Gardner: My mom’s about to make a pie — and in her book, that requires Crisco. Not butter, not lard, not some generic shortening. Crisco.
Mom Gardner: Because I like it, because it’s all vegetable, and it’s really better for your health, I think.
Mom: a marketers dream — and a product of marketing history, too. See, Crisco maker Procter & Gamble was a pioneer in the emerging science of creating demand. Historian Susan Strasser says the Crisco experiment started in 1911, when the company was selling Ivory soap. Cottonseed oil was a key ingredient.
Susan Strasser: And they decided to develop a product that would use a lot more cottonseed oil, so that they could control that market, really.
P&G’s scientists came up with this white, fluffy substance. It sort of resembled lard, and yet had no taste and no smell. It wasn’t food, exactly, but the company would ask consumers to bake and fry with it. Thus began an American mass-marketing milestone.
Strasser: Originally, they tried to call it Crispo, but then they discovered that a cracker factory already had the trademark.
P&G hawked its new product as a “scientific discovery.” The company sent free samples to every grocer in America. They held Crisco teas — an early version of the focus group. P&G even niche-marketed the product as kosher to the Jewish community.
Strasser: One of the rabbis — the Cincinnati rabbi — famously said that the Hebrew race had been waiting 4,000 years for Crisco.
Marketing scholar David Stewart says P&G’s genius was not only giving people a convincing reason to try the product but training them to use it as well, with free cookbooks and recipes.
David Stewart: First of all, they focused on the health benefits — recognizing that this was a time we didn’t know about transfat and so forth. And then they taught people how to use it, they taught people how to cook. They gave them ideas. And between giving them a real benefit and information about how to use the product, they were able to get people to adopt it.
Crisco’s crowning achievement was creating demand for something nobody knew they wanted. That’s the cornerstone of the consumer economy, after all.
Vintage Crisco Ad: “Keep cookin’ with Crisco. It’s all vegetable. It’s digestible!”
Gary Cross: All of this really gave women a new role in society, particularly as consumers.
Historian Gary Cross pioneering mass marketers like Procter & Gamble won over American housewives with their persuasive pitches.
Vintage Crisco Ad: “You women kinda have your hands full these days.” “Well, it’s the truth, isn’t it, friends?”
But women were eager pupils of the emerging consumer economy, too. Women may have lacked political power in those early days, but the new consumerism gave them economic influence like never before, particularly during World War II.
Vintage Crisco Ad: “There’s so much volunteer work to do for the war even the children are helping out. Honestly, with a little Crisco in your frying pan, you can have supper on the table in a jiffy.”
Funny, that’s what my mom says, too. Her Crisco cherry pie has been a fixture in the family for half a century now. P&G may have created the demand for this fluffy, white stuff — but ultimately, it’s consumers like my mom who decide whether products end up a flash in the pan or one of life’s necessities.
I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.November 17, 2007 at 12:32 am #26085
>>-Also one of the funniest lines is in this show.
>>”Strasser: One of the rabbis — the Cincinnati rabbi
>>– famously said that the Hebrew race had been waiting
>>4,000 years for Crisco.”
>>I always new they where waiting for cris.
Yeah, but your comment was even funnier! LOL Dog
>>Crisco’s crowning achievement was creating demand
>>for something nobody knew they wanted. That’s the
>>cornerstone of the consumer economy, after all.
This sentence quite possibly sums up my distaste
for consumerism in better words than I could have possibly said.
I mean, let’s just orient our whole society toward convincing
people to buy junk they don’t need.
In buying more and more and more, we lose sight of
ourselves in the process. More and more of our time
becomes occupied with trying to get more of this
junk, wishing we had certain things, maintaining
the stuff that we have, occupying our time in dealing
with the junk we’ve accumulated. We then devote a lot
of time to mindlessly working so we can get enough money
to buy even more.
It’s almost a zombie mentality. We distract ourselves
from ourselves by investing ourselves in this stuff.
It creates an empty hole within. Then the only
way we feel better is to buy more–just like a zombie
can only feel better when they “eeatt mooore braaainns!”
The more we acquire the further away from ourselves we
become . . .
Well, anyway, I think you get how much I hate it.
Even the word itself, “consumer”, reflects just
exactly what it is. You consume. Like a vampire,
you try to draw in energy from all of these outside
sources of more emptiness.
It really makes me feel like we’d be better off
in a lot of ways if we just rejected a lot of
this and returned to a simpler more deliberate way of living.
At the very least, we probably wouldn’t need to
live workaholic lifestyles acquiring enough money
to fuel our buying addiction. Then more people
could find true happiness within, rather than
fake happiness without.
SNovember 17, 2007 at 2:42 am #26087
Consumption is actualy a disease. You hear about it in cowboy movies, or movies set in the past. So I am not sure how the word consumer came about. It might be a slanderous term.November 17, 2007 at 5:10 am #26089
>>It really makes me feel like we’d be better off
in a lot of ways if we just rejected a lot of
this and returned to a simpler more deliberate way of living.<<
IMHO we won't have any choice about doing this and indeed I think it would be smart to start now, or within a year from today, if you want to settle early into a new life and be set up. Pick somewhere at least 100 foot above sea level, a small town but not too far from the biggest city, with farms around you, start growing stuff, and learn to heal yourself without the use of mains electricity or mass-produced drugs; just my thoughts. Learn skills that will be valuable.
The weakness of the dollar at the moment may mean civil unrest in the US before long, or the other shoe may not drop just yet. China is now moving towards not buying dollars because of the weakness of the currency. In the US the subprime mortgage collapse continues, part of an ongoing realization that paper shuffling and promises of payment amount to nothing in terms of actual financial power.
Nearly every raw material in the world has shot up in price since August. Crude has gone up $25/barrel. George Bush no less has admitted the reason is simply that there is now no longer enough supply of oil to meet demand. We are past Hubbert's Peak, the theoretical point at which there is less oil in the earth than we have used. This particular civilization runs entirely off that oil. That's not to say there will be instant meltdown, nor that technological innovation won't help out. But people who feel there will be no rocky period in my opinion are fooling themselves.
jNovember 17, 2007 at 12:11 pm #26091November 17, 2007 at 12:27 pm #26093
While I don’t think that things will be quite
as extreme as you suggest, I wouldn’t be
the least bit surprised if there is a rude
awakening on the horizon!
Only time will tell, and things are certainly
in a mess now–that’s for sure.
P.S. I’m still expecting Condoleeza Rice
to approach Congress any day, and say:
“Meesa prapose we give emmerrgency pahwers
immeediatly to President Boosh”.
Then we’re all screwed . . .November 17, 2007 at 1:43 pm #26095
… I don’t think that that my suggestions were in any way extreme. There are those who say that there will be permanent riot and anarchy!… go to some peak oil sites if you don’t believe me. I don’t think anything like that… I do think it’s smart to look at the facts and it would be remiss of me not to mention this. j
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