As recently as November, I was writing about stuff. I have evolved. Thrifting has virtually ended, for example. Reading that earlier post, I realized I never wrote about how I ended up thrifting anyway. Perhaps it can be a cautionary tale.
When I was young, we didn’t have much money. Clothes were actually scarce, especially for me as the oldest. We shopped yearly at Sears Roebuck for school clothes, or sometimes Montgomery Ward. MW was colloquially Monkey Ward’s, and it is gone. I don’t know where the Roebuck went; Sears did file for bankruptcy and survived. Its name really is still the longer version. The first credit card most people acquired in those days was a Sears card. My grandmother—for reasons I’ve never understood—told me once that the Queen of England has a new dress for each day. She herself didn’t have lots of clothes, but they were good ones. Put all that into the mix of few clothes, and I think something happened to my young mind. That’s part one.
Part two involves my aunt, who thought nothing of spending $600 on a skirt set. She started giving me hand-me-downs; I was then ruined for shopping at Sears specifically and malls generally. When she was gone, I started at consignment stores and then ended up at thrifts. In my defense, I have several friends who do the same. I am not ashamed. But I don’t need any more stuff or a 12-step program. Says I about the latter. Some may disagree.
On to Shakespeare. In his play (rarely produced) King John, the most important character is not the titular one but Phillip the Bastard. Sorry. It’s just how he’s known. He has by far the most lines and the deepest commentary. One of his soliloquies is known as the commodity speech. You can read about this 17-line single sentence here, read it here, or watch it here. Or you can decide not to. The basic idea is this: The poor will complain about the rich and say being rich is the only sin until they are rich. Then the rich will say being a beggar is the only sin. The last line sounds so modern, so familiar: “Gain, be my lord, for I will worship thee.” Out of context even, and not worrying about the vicissitudes of the French and English thrones (oh, wait, were you watching Game of Thrones?), what does hold our hearts other than what our hearts hold dear?
Now on to Amazon. With Google, Apple, and FaceBook, it’s known as one of the Big Four. In the news lately, Amazon is often described as evil. One article describes Jeff Bezos’ goal: “To be everywhere, to be the platform for everything for every consumer.” These impressive commentators can’t agree on the evil-nomer partly because, if it is, then most of the country is complicit. As usual, it’s where we put our discomfort. I know some people who don’t have Prime because of the fear of buying to justify the fee and others who wouldn’t dream of darkening WalMart’s doors but buy everything but groceries at Amazon.
Finally, Andrew Yang. If you’ve heard of this Democratic candidate for president, it’s likely because of the first prong of his platform: Universal Basic Income. Medicare for all and Human-Centered Capitalism complete the trident. This $1000 a month for every American 18 and over would “enable all Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy, relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future.” Wow. With a little more, we could cure the common cold and go back to the moon. I think he doesn’t understand humanity very well.
Obviously, this issue is too long for a short blog. I’ve done my part in trying to buy less. As noted previously, inheritors are likely to throw stuff/junk out anyway. Other activities are more beneficial. What we are really spending is time, as much as money. And that doesn’t grow on trees. More to follow?