This was written near the 2012 holiday season; however, the points are every bit as valid today, and it doesn’t have to be the holiday consumer rush for this stuff to be relevant.
Time Is Not Money
You know the old adage, “time is money”? Well, it’s wrong. Time isn’t money, and depending on how you define it, time isn’t even time. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about money.
Money is action. When you spend a dollar, you are providing the incentive toward action for a whole series of events. I know lots of people, and hear/see even more, who talk quite a bit about politics, religion and law; ultimately, they’re talking about (or trying to talk about) a sense of decency, of not grinding a stranger’s face into the gravel just to have ice in your water. Yet, oddly, I very rarely hear any talk about the implications, the meaning, of money.
When Wal-Mart locks the women and children who make its low priced widgets inside their buildings, working some of them to death as a way to make sure its inventory is fully stocked for the Xmas holiday season (and whether or not you believe in Christ as a man, a concept, a deity or a fable, I don’t think a real case can be made for Christ as a symbol of the consumerism that presently defines December within the USA)…when Wal-Mart does that, and then you go out and buy those “low priced” widgets, you are directly contributing to that practice and are thus in some way morally/ethically culpable for those actions. You are functionally condoning the practice of working women and children to death, and if you are a person of integrity you need to own that—or better yet, simply refuse to do it at all.
I don’t want to give the impression that Wal-Mart is a unique case—Apple, Coke, Pepsi, EA, Nintendo and many others (the RIAA, MPAA and US Camber of Commerce) all rank as well. Indeed, every dollar spent has an implication, and it’s important to try and be aware of the real world effects of your choices. Is that Coke with lunch really worth supporting the sale of local water rights out from under citizens in favor of a corporate profit margin? Is buying an iPhone or Apple datapad really worth supporting a company that thinks the appropriate response to working conditions that are so bad its employees consistently jump off its roof…is to install big nets around the building?
Corporations hold more influence globally than any NGO, even more than most sovereign governments, and their employees (former and future) hold positions throughout those few remaining governments that might arguably have more clout. The only truly functional way to stop these organizations—which Willard Romney calls ‘people’, and the FBI criminal profiling division calls ‘sociopaths’—is to ensure that we make certain practices unprofitable.
Spending is the important part within this “lifecycle” on which to focus. Who someone works for has implications, certainly, but survival is a fundamental drive (doubly so if one has a family to care for), and I dare say many people are already not overly fond of their employers as it stands. However, spending is much more an act of choice, and is best given full consideration. We live in a digital age in which there are multiple databases competing to sell profiles on you, and everyone you know, to the highest bidder. Market studies and PR have become the guiding lights of the global economy, and our own purchasing trends are the only door passes we have. The saying “money talks” is even more true now than ever before, thanks to modern marketing. With that in mind I ask: What are you saying to the world?
Think on that for a time, and as you do, remember that even NPOs are corporations. The above is not just about business—it touches equally on political parties, PACs, think tanks and every religious institution that holds tax exempt status. When you hand them your money, you are tangibly endorsing and sustaining their actions. And it is to these actions (not rhetoric from their PR spokes people) to which you must look when seeking to truly assess the character and merit of the agenda to which you are making yourself an accessory.
So, this holiday season, as FOX takes the name of the Christian savior in vain to hype their “war on Christmas” ratings inflator, consider who it is you’re voting for when you spend that dollar. In the spirit of gift giving and generosity, be sure that the shiny new toy you get for your spouse, or the much desired plaything you purchase for your (grand)child, is truly a gift and not a short term diversion that sells their future quality of life down the river.
I’ll close with an irony: this sort of conscious behavior is key to the heart of theoretical capitalism; but talking about it, in our current culture, will usually evoke cries of “socialism,” causing me to wish that people would take the time to read a book or two…even if it were only a dictionary or a thesaurus.
Happy Holidays, everyone. Buy safe.
About the Author: Justin Nafziger
Hello everyone, I’m much better at self-analysis than self-description; besides, you’ll get an idea about my views in reading what I post. I’ve grown up traveling, and in all the time I’ve spent seeing new places, people and things, I’ve come to one clear conclusion: real, meaningful moments and interactions don’t have to be permanent to be valuable, but they do have to be honest or they’ll be leeched of meaning. Oh, and that ethics (aka integrity in action) is a very personal proposition and cannot be successfully codified or dogmatized.
“There are as many truths as there are drops of water in the ocean and grains of sand on the beach.”
Reality is collaborative, truth is personal.