I really do not feel like putting a lot of effort in this post tonight. No pictures, perhaps not even well thought out. I just wanted to share some things on my mind.
After living for many years overseas, life in the USA feels like living in a constant sales pitch. I often mention this is my culture shock posts and continue to do so because it seems the sales pitches are becoming more frequent and quite a bit more sneaky. I say sneaky because of all the hidden fees, charges and even agendas. I’m pretty sure life is much slower in other regions of the country and have narrowed the reasons I feel constantly bombarded to two. First, I live in a big city, there is a lot going on here, much buying and selling, a HUGE marketplace! Secondly and more importantly, I keep my nose buried in a constant stream of media on my devices for the better portion of the day.
Let me back up and say that I believe one of the reasons this facet of our culture really strikes me is that I know what it is like to live in a country without the constant barrage. I was in Vietnam for two years before I came back and to live in Saigon feels like going back in time, a much simpler time. (although it is changing and rapidly)
I came back to the USA in 2004 when the economy was just humming along and technology started to make a big impact in the mainstream. Mobile phones appeared in everyone’s pockets and we all became addicted. Over the past six years as these phones improved I’ve noticed that we cannot tear ourselves away from them. If we are not chatting, we are listening to music, texting or walking down the street with our faces buried in them.
After I purchased my first Iphone I started reaching for it the moment I woke up to scan the news and social networks. Technology kept improving and now we have Netflix with on-demand streaming movies, downloadable books on our Ipads and it is no longer just reaching for the phone in the morning, I find myself constantly with my face towards one screen or another processing information.
I love my documentaries on Netflix, I read my magazines and books on the Ipad/phone and when I’m not using those I’m on my desktop or work computer. I’ve become an information processor!
Recently, I’ve decided to read less news and more books. I prefer nonfiction and things that teach me something. I don’t like just being an information processor and would like to discover more meaningful ideas, understand history better from different points of view. I feel with the news today everything is spun one way or another and their true intent is to have the reader agree with their opinion, not simply deliver the news.
Well, today I had a revelation. I’ve been reading financial books so I can feel more confident with my investments and to make better decisions.
2. Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don’t Want You to Know
– Both of these books provide great guides to investing. Take on the Street was written by former SEC director Arthur Levitt.
I used to think of people in finance as really smart and that they didn’t have to really sell their products and most people would come to them. Now that I’m into my second financial book I find that is definitely not the case. They too must sell their products just like everyone else. When I say “sell” I mean push their products upon as many unsuspecting people as possible, not help out Joe America who walks in the door and asks for it.
Sure, I know what happened during the financial crisis and that constantly pushing financial products on the population carries a very big part of the blame but it really didn’t sink in as it did today. As sales people, financial advisors/brokers/bankers whatever must continually sell. They sell what is best for them and in order to make a larger profit do not always do what is best for the customer.
If you read the forum you see that I also am not very fond of doctors. Well, they sell products and services too. They will sell the drugs the pharmaceutical companies give them commissions on. They will perform the surgeries that give them the biggest payout from the insurance companies.
It would seem that in every single business our society is in search of larger profits at the expense of the consumer, the employee, the patients, you name it.
By reading my financial books and consuming more information with this rapid rise in technology I finally found the answer as to why the phrase “Welcome to America, now go buy something,” kept popping into my head when I returned to this country. Every business everywhere has a main goal of separating you from your money, often by sneaky methods.
Not even our elected leaders do what is in our best interest anymore. Our politicians like to wrap themselves in the flag, show off their patriotism and create an image of America that simply doesn’t exist. I would say that the true current character of America is to make money, and to make as much of it as you can.
It would seem that this infection has penetrated to the core of American society and there is no turning back. We all know our politicians serve the biggest contributors and those would be the corporations. I’ve grown tired of the mantra that politicians serve “Joe average American,” when the truth is our leaders are there to serve “Mega Corporation Donor.”
I’m really not trying to make any point here or even trying to solve the issue. It simply is what it is. America is the land where money is to be made and that is it. No more flag, no more patriotism, none of that. Make money and if being patriotic helps to sell your goods then by all means dress up as George Washington. The car dealerships do after all.
Today I found the answer in all its naked truth. The pursuit of profit will triumph over abstract ideas such as morals, doing the right thing and looking out for your fellow man. There is no stopping this freight train, we will continue having bubbles, continue having crashes and they will be bigger, more spectacular and more devastating.
Welcome to America, the land of making money. If it disgusts you there are plenty of “positive thinking,” or religious shelters to cling to to try to escape. But you cannot, it is all around you. The positive thinking books are also a business and are there to make money, snake oil or honest attempt, it doesn’t matter, they will tell you whatever they need to to sell you more.
When historians look back I wonder what they will say about this point in American history. The period of massive pursuit of profit? What happened to society when corporations became so powerful that they dictated what governments should do, how they could simply dispose of workers at their liking, where “the people” lost control to an idea set down on paper called a “Corporation” made up of the very same citizens whose individual interests they are in direct confrontation with? Pay the workers less, they will buy less, there are only so many poor countries you can shift the work towards. After all those citizens will gain a modest living, demand more but there are only a limited number of poor countries to exploit.
Perhaps in the future governments will be subservient to the corporation? Not as they are now at the infant stage but I mean countries almost disappearing or becoming irrelevant as we would all belong to one corporation or another. Or perhaps the country could just be a superficial headpiece like the Queen of England when the Parliament really runs the show. Lobbying groups and corporations already run much of the show in America but that balance will shift even further and perhaps they will simply dictate in the future.
Perhaps countries could sell their naming rights as a last ditch effort to try and maintain some authority. Just as the sports arenas with their new corporate names, perhaps the USA will be known as Facebook States of America?
Well friends, it would appear that I’ve read too much, watched too many documentaries. Have we ever been good at predicting the future? Would we have guessed our lives would be like this back in 1990? We are not sure how things will turn out or which way our boat will be tossed.
But if you’re a betting person, I would bet on the money and those that have the money are the faceless corporations made up of you and I. Unless you can make it to the upper echelons the past decade has shown that your financial situation is not likely to improve, union members or middle management white collar, your salaries are stagnant and decreasing.
Perhaps this is why we are having such turmoil politically right now. We are trying to decide the direction in which to take this country and those who are not on the side of the corporations are losing badly. If I were you, I wouldn’t bet on “fairness,” I would bet on profit.
Again, I’m not on any side, I have no conclusion and I’m not even sure if their is a “right” or better path to take. I just think the state of society became very clear to me today and realized the direction in which we are not only heading but have already arrived.
Good luck everyone!