I shop therefore I am?


RETAILING analyst Victor Lebow declared as long ago as 1955 that productive economies “demand that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and ego gratification in consumption’’.

“We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate,’’ he said.

Economist Robert Nelson has described consumerism as “the modern theology’’.

Writer J. Philip Wogaman gave credit to the“individualistic values’’ of capitalism but said the system contained a “faulty understanding of human nature’’.

The major failing, he said, was that capitalism was a half-truth inviting a kind of principled selfishness. Self-interest could inspire a moral callousness with the successful attributing their success to their own goodness while seeing “character deficiencies’’ in those less successful.

Wogaman said social morality was necessary as a counter balance to self-interest.


50 thoughts on “I shop therefore I am?

  1. Utter Rubbish! It is like describing the evil of something called a “knife” because some idiot used the said “knife” to murder someone.
    And Victor Lebow was wrong too. We are either productive economies or parasitic economies (read Greece). But remember that even parasites die if they don’t have a productive economy to sponge off.


    • Still full of shit, davinci? —> “But remember that even parasites die if they don’t have a productive economy to sponge off.”

      They just print more money ~ like the US has been: $40-$60 BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH for the last six years or so.

      And as for ‘evil’ knives, I’d be more inclined to blame the mongrels that operate them ~ like the human diarrhoea that skins animals alive…and those who do nothing about it.
      Feel free to publish the relevant address/phone-number any time you have an unexpected fit of the ‘Decents’.


      • I agree with you Dabbles. Some people are just mean-spirited.

        I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
        I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
        I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
        I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.



  2. There are certain businesses that I won’t buy from. Amazon being one, because they allowed the publication of a ‘how to’ book on paedophilia.


      • Yes! And what’s worse they have defended their right to—

        “Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable,” it reads. “Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”

        We live in a sick world.


      • Exactly. It infuriated me.

        I know that we should live in a free world, but I think it is common sense that paedophilia is that line that should be drawn. They are soulless.


      • Maybe the thought process is in a true democracy it allows ‘free speech’ but at the same time it exposes pedaphiles making it easier to prosecute? No-one likes pedaphiles.


      • Perhaps you shoud consider the fact that Jesus once coined the phrase “in the world but of the world” (look it up). In fact He prayed to His Father that we are not taken out of the world, but that we are protected from its influences. Meanwhile Paul referred to Christians as either ambassadors for Christ and/or the descendants of people who considered themselves pilgrims on this earth looking for a city whose foundations are laid by God.


    • Amazon doesn’t believe it is up to them to censor content, I totally understand their view, and that is why we have laws, to restrict such content. In reading the story of the situation on Wikipedia, the law stepped in and arrested the writer of the book after ordering it to a state where it violated a law to have it distributed there. In essence, Amazon actually brought an opportunity for the writer of such a book to be arrested, and they did stop selling it.

      But was it really a ‘how-to’ book? It sounds more like it was a book outlining how to deal with an attraction to children in a responsible way. “Code of conduct” was in the title. It sounds like there may have been an element of jumping to conclusions in demonizing the book due to its subject, while overlooking the content. Please correct me if I’m wrong, as I was not aware of this situation.


      • So Amazon’s intention was to ‘expose’ this man to authority?

        Obviously it was bad enough for the man to be arrested. That’s what I’d read it was about – a how to – but that could have been bad reporting.


      • Amazon’s intention is to sell everything they can without discrimination and within the law, as far as I understand.

        The law the book broke was a Florida obscenity law:

        So I suspect a big aspect was the media jumping all over something being sold that was connected with pedophilia, regardless of if the content of the book maybe was geared to helping those who are attracted to children to act responsibly.

        This is a trouble with demonizing anything connected with a harmful act, it also can prevent connection for people with such desires to gain helpful guidance in acting responsibly and hopefully getting the help they need so that they don’t become involved in the exploitation or mistreating of children.

        In the end, I find it difficult to be holding Amazon responsible without knowing the full scope of how objectionable the book really was. Considering the nature of pedophilia, I can understand the reaction to the book though.


  3. A good sentiment. In the same vein ~ and something YOU can take action on (win lose or draw) Consumer products aren’t the only shit we ‘buy’ :-

    “Unless we speak out now, the Israel lobby could win on this one. Sign here and we’ll take out an ad this week with your message in a major Washington DC news outlet read by members of Congress and their staff.”


    • Interesting that you should mention Israel Dabbles.

      Recently I was reading about Scarlett Johannsen and how she supports the product Soda Stream which is made in Israel by both Jews and Palestinians.

      For some strange reason Oxfam are objecting to this. The Palestinians have a steady job and a good wage – which equals opportunity – which equals peace. Many want Soda Stream boycotted. Scarlett has hit back that she supports peaceful co-operation.

      This makes me think that there certain people out there trying to ruin things for the Palestinians all over again! And it isn’t the Israelis.


      • I forgot to mention that Scarlett was ambassador for Oxfam but she is also half Jewish on her mother’s side.


      • I’m thinking of buying a Soda Stream now, and if I were a contributor to Oxfam I would have pulled my money out.


      • Y’can’t fight ingrained dogma, Kate; you should know that.
        But it wasn’t me that mentioned israel; it was a key component of the issue raised by the link.

        And beyond the ‘morality’ and self-righteous self-interest, the question must be asked:-
        Why should israel (or any other nation) be allowed to ‘justify’ the possession of nukes and Iran/NorthKorea/whoever not rely on the same justification?

        If one is to judge according to historical facts Iran is a much safer possessor of WMD than either israel OR the US. Wasn’t the last occasion on which Iran threatened the world peace (or total annihilation of an enemy) back in the day of Nebuchadnezzar?


      • Perhaps (“I’m thinking of buying a Soda Stream now, and if I were a contributor to Oxfam I would have pulled my money out.”)
        …they know more about the story than is commonly known.

        Would you have approved of the nazis if they’d set up co-operative businesses with jews, given they were taking advantage of the opportunity of avoiding being gassed? ……perhaps bought soap made from rendered-down other jews or soviet prisoners?

        In a general way, I’d suggest that while the business is described as an ‘israeli-palestinian venture’ ~ rather than a Soda-Stream producing venture ~ is built on the foundation (overtly or covertly) of racist ~ and ‘religionist’ ~ foundations.


      • No Dabbles, Iran (or Persia as its old name used to be) conquered Egypt, and many of the former Russian Republics all the way to India. It also threatened Europe (remember Marathon, thermophilae, etc)?


  4. “We be many and they be few.
    They need us more than we need them”.
    Is another fine sentiment ~ but quite false.

    “We” depend much more on the providers of jobs/goods/medical facilities/etc. than “they” depend on us ~ and certainly more urgently.
    Because of the machinations of the political/industrial/military complex ~ with the full co-operation of the great unwashed ~ ‘we’ live from hand-to-mouth and payday to payday.
    “They” could live on their reserves for the next few million years or so without ever having to make another dollar.
    Your votes and your taxes made it possible.

    ….and don’t forget, about half the population of the US (and Australia), deliberately and vociferously. actually VOTE for the Right-wingers who build such dictatorships.
    ….and the rest of you vote for that other kind of dictatorship (‘of the proletariat) which, in its own way has precisely the same ambitions.

    Be ashamed.
    Be VERY ashamed.


    • Very true dabs. But all the workers of the world have to do to bring it to a standstill … is fold their arms. Neo-capitalists should be wary… it only takes what they’re already seriously talking about…. a revolution.


    • So why don’t you get off your butt and emigrate to that Workers Paradise the USSR? Oh that’s right! Even they thought communism was bad and capitalism was good.


  5. OF course if I hadn’t bought this lap-top and internet connection I wouldn’t be able to read this great blog. If I hadn’t bought the table it’s sitting on I’d get a crocked back using it. If I hadn’t bought the house I’m in I’d have nowhere to put the table and the lap-top might not do so well in the rain. If I didn’t buy food I’d get to weak to use the keyboard and if I didn’t buy clothes the neighbours might complain a bit.

    There are times in life when you need stuff.


  6. I’ve just been reading of the legal and commonplace atrocities that abounded when our ancestors of not too long ago were around. We have come a long way forward under a capitalist system, perhaps because a welfare system has grown with it.

    Money is not evil. The love of money is. Greed is evil.

    So yes, it’s right that A can be more successful financially than B, but with limits. We cannot rely on the wealthy to estimate fairly where their charity should go, or be withheld.

    Reluctantly, I have to agree that even built-in obsolescence could be ‘a good thing’ in our consumer based society.


    • The Pope insisted that the economy should serve human beings, and not human beings the economy. He proposed a view of economic equality that ‘demands first of all a transcendent vision of the person. It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.’


  7. It’s interesting that consumerism can be categorised as practically a theology for some people, yet so many don’t save for their own retirement.

    How can we have so much money to spend on junk and then when we get to retirement age, call ourselves poor?


    • I quite agree Kate, but you’ve got to remember that the 10 grand you saved in your forties would just about buy you a cup of coffee by the time you get into your sixties.
      ….and the rest of the problem is that people won’t budge out of their ‘comfort zone’ no matter how bad it is there ~ as discussed previously.

      Apart from that, of course, is the reality that most people have spent a lifetime being conditioned to believe that ‘old’ means ‘poor’.

      You wouldn’t believe the responses I get from friends (often battling: ie have not much to lose) when I try to steer them towards the stockmarkets ~ more lucrative and much bless strenuous than bank-robbery! ~ despite my unblemished track-record of trades over 16 or so years.
      Though I must admit I, too, was reluctant at first, preferring to battle on with stuff I understood; but stuff I wouldn’t physically (or mentally) be able to do these days.

      It really is all in the mindset. eg. There’s a house five minutes from here that was ‘worth’ about $350k. (upmarket around here) It was seriously damaged by fire, and will come up for auction expecting to fetch about $70/$80. Land-value is about $140k: the reduction in expected price being due to the estimated cost of demolishing and carting it away. (‘expert’/insurance-co. mindset )
      But why would you arbitrarily demolish a house that can be rebuilt for a lesser cost?

      Had a good look at it yesterday and I’m certain I can rebuild it (with a few modifications) for a max of $30k. Apart from physical restraints the major problem is the multi-layered paperwork involved (more ‘corporate-government crap) and the monopolies it produces. But I have a mate, and between us we’ll manage it (pending a few satisfactory answers from ‘The Authority’ …where I have a few contacts.)

      And the end result will be a win-win-win down the track a bit.


      • If kids are taught in school how to manage money (or if parents teach their kids about saving some of their pocket money etc), they could be well on their way via Compound Interest. Even if they don’t start from young. It still makes a difference.

        Compound Interest Tables – The Value of $10,000 Invested In a Lump Sum (the table outline didn’t copy)
        4% 8% 12% 16%
        10 Years $14,802 $21,589 $31,058 $44,114
        20 Years $21,911 $46,610 $96,463 $194,608
        30 Years $32,434 $100,627 $299,600 $858,500
        40 Years $48,010 $217,245 $930,510 $3,787,212
        50 Years $71,067 $469,016 $2,890,022 $16,707,038

        Instead of get rich quick schemes people should learn about low and steady growth. The amount of money spent on small items adds up over the years and could have been made into a personal safety net.

        People used to be so much more frugal in the old days. They made their own lunch, made their own cleaning products, made their own clothes, didn’t spend money on entertainment every weekend and toys etc. It’s amazing how much money gets wasted on small things when they could have been saved and say used on the Stock Market, as you say Dabbles.

        “Albert Einstein once noted that the most powerful force in the universe was the principle of compounding. In investing, this manifests itself through something called compound interest. Put in its simplest terms, the phrase compound interest means that you begin to earn interest income on your interest income, resulting in your money growing at an ever-accelerating rate. It is the reason for the success of every person on the Forbes 400 list and anyone can take advantage of the benefits through a disciplined investing program. Benjamin Franklin was famous explaining to people that it was the best way he knew how to get rich.”


      • Yes, if you have the will and know how, restoring the old to new in the property market can be very lucrative. This is how a family member plans on making sure she has her own retirement. She learnt together with her (now ex) husband. They bought a delapidated house for a song not too far from the city of Perth, worked on it tirelessly for 10+ years (though it helps that he is a Carpenter) and now have a house worth over $1mil. It also helps that she is very talented and creative (basically she ‘invested’ in her own talents). She started off as someone who wore donated clothes and has a steely mindset now that she will not be relying on anyone else for her needs.

        Good luck with that Dabbles 🙂 I’m sure you’ll make it work.


      • Credit cards are a bane as well. A girlfriend who wasn’t earning too much, was lured by the instant gratification of a credit card. She had emotional issues due to abuse and liked the ‘escape’ of retail therapy. She used to shop with money she didn’t have and then got to the stage where she had multiple credit cards. She explained to me that she used one to pay off the other lol Thankfully her mother made her cut them up. Do banks still do that? Give Credit Cards to people who cannot afford them? She used to say that she constantly got letters in the mail trying to entice her to get more.


      • 1. Inflation also acts as “compound interest” at 2.5% annual inflation in 10 years time you’d need $12,800.85 to have the same buying power as that 10k today
        2. You haven’t allowed for any taxation of the earnings


      • chortle!
        The problem with compounding interest-rates, Kate, is that fees-and-charges, general expenses (including tax) and the CPI compounds at somewhat higher rates! (It’s why the banks are richer than you are!)

        As Lazarus Long put it:- $100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $100,000,000 — by which time it will be worth nothing.

        The trick is to get in, grab the loot, and get out; my worst fault in the markets has always ( except once, when I made a mere $138 capital gain in two days) been getting out too early. Local markets have been a bit wobbly lately, but any day-trader with more than three braincells can make a minimum of half a percent a day. That’s about 250 percent per year.
        Try compounding THAT! 😉

        And it’s not complicated, but the proceeds can be put to good use, since the more you make the less important accumulating it it becomes.

        ps… ever read the thoughts of Lazarus Long? I suspect he’d strike a chord.

        “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”



      • Is this what’s needed then?


        I’m sure people are smart enough not to put all their eggs in one basket. Many people have bought a house by the time they come to retirement age and are getting ready to go on the Pension, but maybe with the compounded interest savings (some of which over the years was used on certain stocks) and then downsizing the house and freeing up the extra cash to live on… Not so many people needing the youth to pay for their pensions?


      • Seems the biggest problem won’t be the pension but physically looking after all the old folk


        Ageing of the Australian population will contribute to substantial pressure on
        government spending over the next 40 years.
        Total spending is projected to increase to 27.1 per cent of GDP in 2049–50, around
        4¾ percentage points of GDP higher than its projected low point in 2015–16.
        In today’s terms, that’s the equivalent of adding around $60 billion to spending.
        Around two-thirds of the projected increase in spending to 2049–50 is expected to be on health, reflecting pressures from ageing, along with increasing demand for health services and funding of new technologies.
        Growth in spending on age-related pensions and aged care also is significant both as a proportion of GDP and in real spending per person, reflecting population ageing

        IF compound interest can stop you from getting old I’d be amazed .


      • Did you see this link from the link you provided?

        “Understandably, readers have reacted furiously to banks demanding to know their motives before letting them take out large sums of their own cash.

        Two weeks ago we reported on a reader being refused more than £1,000 of his cash by HSBC without evidence of planned spending – now the story has ballooned and it appears this is increasingly happening across the High Street.”


        It’s started happening here ~ particularly with the ANZ.
        Be afraid.
        Be very afraid.
        I’m liquidating everything; considering becoming a boat-person refugee to North Korea or Zimbabwe, or some other sane and safe place.


    • How does a Granny get flat?
      ….and how would you be able to keep a flat Granny in the stocks?
      (I’m in training to become a christian apologist!;) )


    • There’s this business in the US that make these really gorgeous mobile granny flats. Put together in no time and sit just nicely in a medium sized yard.


      • PLEEEESE!!….Don’t tempt me! —-> ” mobile granny flats. Put together in no time and sit just nicely in a medium sized yard. 🙂


  8. ps….I’ve lost track, but here’s a comment about the Soda-Stream thing which turned up in my mail:- I reckoned there had to be more to the Soda-Stream story

    Following in the tradition of 18th century Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, who said, “This matzah is treif [not Kosher]. It is not kosher because it was produced through oshek, oppression of the workers and exploitation.”



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