In Order For Us To Get That Cheap Pair Of Gym Socks, Some Other Human Has To Suffer

Our market-driven economy has taught us all to continue searching out the things we want for the cheapest possible price. Why not get the thing you want while keeping a few more kopeks in your pocket? Seems totally reasonable.

But, that assumes that the things we want — a good pair of white gym socks, say (currently available from Walmart at $6.99 for a package of 6) — can actually be created from start to finish and delivered to us for the price we’re paying. Obviously it can — we’re holding the package of gym socks in our hands. But what did those socks really cost — not just us — but the people who made them? What did growing, manufacturing and shipping those socks to us do to the planet? What did our cheap package of gym socks cost everyone else?

Organic, non-destructive farming methods are more expensive than normal factory farming methods. Our cheap pair of gym socks weren’t grown organically — count on it. The cotton in them was farmed elsewhere under environmental laws more lax than ours. We don’t know (as we pay for our socks) what sorts of pesticides were used. We don’t know how responsibly (or, more likely, irresponsibly) those pesticides were used. We don’t know if they ended up in a stream or a river — or someone’s drinking water.

Farmers and business people doing things for cheap tend to cut corners — like worrying about other peoples’ drinking water. That’s just experience and history talking.

Likewise, we don’t know what, if any, air pollution regs the factory that made our socks followed. It is entirely possible that making our socks contributed (in some small way) to global warming. Bravo, us.

The biggest cost in making our socks is the labor. Or should be. It isn’t. That’s the real problem. For us to get that cheap pair of gym socks, it’s simply a fact that the human beings who actually make them will have to get paid next to nothing. If they can be slave labor — that’s even better.

Cheap, cheaper, cheapest comes at a considerable cost.

As we all stumble forward now into our coronavirus-flavored Brave New World, we’ll have the chance to re-imagine a lot of how we did things. More people working from home all around the world will have a direct economic impact on lots of other businesses. Fewer people will now travel for business. That will mean fewer flights — that are more full (as full as social distancing will allow) — and cost more. The airlines won’t have a choice if they want to remain in business.

Fewer people commuting will mean fewer people need to buy cars. That’s fewer cars bought, financed and serviced. That will mean fewer cars made — not that people will be making them anyway.

Think about your job and what you get paid for it. None of us wants to be told that our labor isn’t worth much — that we’re lucky to have a job so shut up and do it. That’s what we’re telling every laborer who has anything to do with our cheap pair of socks.

Make my socks, bitch. Then die.

We’re going to need to readjust our thinking. Things will cost more than they do because, well, they cost more. We’re going to need to see the deep, profound connections between our economic circumstances and everyone else’s.

Greed never makes anyone smarter.

If I Were “Benevolent Dictator”, Here’s How It Would Be…

No one sees it coming, least of all me. Just like that — political leaders across the world & spectrum get the fates they deserve. The World’s eyes (getting REALLY desperate) turn to me of all people.

“Dude,” the World says, “We’re totally screwed. The ball’s yours if you want. Got anything?”

“Okay,” I say after a long, thoughtful beat. Here’s the deal I want:

  1. My job title: “Benevolent Dictator”. It’s not up for discussion. Now here’s the thing — no one has to call me this. In fact, I’d rather they didn’t. It’s a little OTT. I just need the World to understand that, until my work is finished, that’s who & what I am.
  2. My pay — zero. It ain’t about the money. If I do MY job correctly, money will land in my pocket through a thousand different streams (all of them 100% legit).
  3. What I Want — The End of CRONY CAPITALISM. That’s another non-negotiable point. We need to rethink almost everything about our culture. More exactly, we need to start SEEING our culture for what it is, for what it must be and for what it can never be again. Money is not our problem, GREED is. Greed undermines capitalism more than an army of communists and socialists. Take THAT to the bank.
  4. What I Want (continued) — A return to HUMAN DECENCY as the basis for how we view one another — and more importantly how we treat one another. For starters, we bury the ludicrous notion that America is “a Christian country”. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are larded with Humanist thought born of the French Enlightenment. There’s far more Jean-Jacques Rousseau in our foundational docs than there is Jeremiah. To that end, we recognize religious texts as literature, not history and definitely not a basis for morality. We have science to cover the “nuts & bolts” of how we got here and CRITICAL THINKING to cover the rest.
  5. What I Want (Continued) — We put every fact we have about Donald Trump & the Republican Party on the table. We admit to ourselves what the Republican Party tried to do to us — install permanent minority rule; even though they hated Donald Trump, they cynically hitched their shit-wagon to him despite knowing he was bought & paid for by Russia — because THEY, too, were bought & paid for by Russia. And Saudi Arabia & the UAE & Israel (and who the hell knows who else).
  6. What I Want (Continued One Last Time) — We retrain our news media as far away from Both Sides Do It journalism as possible. We make selling False Equivalences career suicide. We return critical thinking & especially PERSPECTIVE to all journalism school curriculum.
  7. What I REALLY Want — As quickly as I can, I will remove as many men as possible from positions of power. Those that remain will have to demonstrate that they really do know how to play well with others. That means no unilateral “I alone can fix it” toxic male thinking. Deal breaker. I insist that we hand as much governmental power as they want over to women (African American women especially — if not for them, this Democratic Republic would have been toast years ago). I’m not saying women are perfect — though, as Benevolent Dictator I could — I’m just saying they cannot possibly do worse than men. And to make sure men don’t ruin what women try to do with their unhelpful suggestions — I want to give women the purest shot we can. Once women are ready to rock ‘n roll? I’m handing over the reins of power.

That’s my deal. I’m ready to sign — and get to work — whenever YOU are, World…