Sunday, August 26, 2007

Does Marketing 'Envy' Cause Poverty?

Also published on

Until 9-11, and its ensuing epiphany, I wasn't much interested in economics. Then I quickly grasped that studying the arcane art of money and power was much more entertaining than watching any Hollywood thriller ever produced. Before stating anything else further, my belief is that economics and philosophy complete one another. Although some might argue otherwise, a diatribe as to whether 'Envy' belongs to the realm of philosophy or economics doesn't serve any real purpose at this stage. The bottom line is that 'envy' is detrimental to wallets and portfolios. As a matter of fact, in the Western culture, the world 'Envy' doesn't sound as bad as 'Jealousy'. In many instances 'envy' is even perceived as flattering. It has little to do with its initial meaning, which you will see can be highly threatening.

One of the most striking examples of blatant 'envy' is the made-in China buying frenzy, especially the counterfeit market that may reach up to 1.3 trillion dollars in the world economy by 2010. As most of the glamorous brands selling 'envy' relocated in China in order to satisfy their 'envious' stockholders, their products also became a lot more affordable for the masses. Dynamics of the market being what are, the democratization of 'envy' played out as expected. Indeed it didn't take long at all to see the invasion of fake goods increasing exponentially.

The madness of the 'envious' crowds will end in tears once again. The 'live richly' mindset has much to do with the craze that pumped up the average Chinese stocks by more than 400% since late 2005 - and which shows no sign of slowing. The Chinese government cannot do a thing to rein in the so-called red-hot economy.

But let's go back to our knockoff issue. Considering that this underground market is deeply rooted and has allowed rampant corruption, it is now entirely futile to seek the protection of law enforcement. Furthermore, what will the situation be like within the 5 to 10 years ahead? It can only go from bad to worse: the quality also being determined by the laws of demand and supply has gotten so much better that the difference between the real and the faux is fading gradually. We can effectively see the 'envy' at work from the top down. While is it difficult to say when exactly, one doesn't need a PhD in economics to foresee the next scenario: those who can really afford the real brand names will look for new symbols of wealth, leaving the current ones at the mercy of the mass market.

Although little is said about that, the consumer ought to know: beside electronics, there now also are knockoff drugs, auto and airplane pieces finding their way to the market. The message is clear; Nature has worked in a way to make us understand that a big gap between the rich and the poor cannot exist. That 'financial envy' translates into a suicide economy. The 'sky is the limit theory' is a first-class delusion… along with power. Central bankers, which helped those famous brand names to take over the world using mega-jumbo-loans, do not and cannot create wealth. They are highly skilled illusionists implementing the best democracy and economy money can buy at the expense of the gullible.

Instead of paraphrasing boring theories, here is another resonating example: just imagine that you've got enough money to buy yourself a home and are given the choice between two quite different neighborhoods. The choice between a smaller and a bigger house: the smaller one costing more because it is located in a better neighborhood. Considering that the majority tends to live beyond its means, the data suggest that the nicer part of the town would be chosen. It is the 'envy' that foments the dream of having as much as (or more than) our neighbors after all - doesn't it?

By its very nature, 'envy' is generally associated with materialistic possessions - consciously or not. People find nothing amiss with labeling neighborhoods according to their financial states. They do not realize that it is their 'envy', which makes speculation more acute in certain boroughs than others.

So in the case of the housing industry, the fact that 'envy' might favor self-segregation is not far fetched. And as we all know there is a link between cultures and economics. But is it ethical? That 1 million of individuals believe in the same lies doesn't make them true. 'Self-segregated envy' is like banding together to party, but has consequences such as fueling discrimination ghettoization and by extension, racism. Over the time there surfaces an agenda to evict people from poorer neighborhoods when the nicest 'envied zones' start becoming overcrowded. People do not understand the boomerang dynamics of a so-called red-hot market, which they have themselves created; that a skyrocketing market ends up pricing out potential buyers; forcing those earning less to resort to credit cards use for doing simple daily errands. While (these days) it is hip to express amazement at the living standards of anyone who can afford a hefty mortgage, credit expansion inflates the value about just nearly everything on a national scale. And since salaries are never adjusted to inflation, a loss of purchasing is generally felt as a fatality.

So the need for affordable housing remains high on our politicians'agenda. The government comes to the rescue at the expenses of the taxpayers. Enforcing charity is a concept that lacks logic. Intuitively people endorsing this ideology know that they are being taken for a ride by 'envy' but as do not know how to fight it, they end up imitating the opponents called 'the evil right'. This said, generosity is not a liberal trait, there are genuine charitable people everywhere, but Leftists are the most vocal when it comes to social programs to counter "envious corporations and their henchmen". It is a near certainty that after the world crash, the victims of 'envy' will call for more solutions in favor of 'wealth redistribution', across all political spectrums.

Ironically the fight against inequality depends on our own willingness to analyze the consequences of 'Envy'. The liberal fight against poverty was doomed from the start. Inequality will be dramatically reduced the day we stop fighting for it. It is the motivation of 'Envy' versus 'Envy'. 'Vengeance' goes along with 'envy'. As described at the very end of my earlier editorial, group fighting has been throughout history a massive failure. This has happened despite the so-called lobbies and their so-called safety nets in place to protect the consumers' from envy. Because the objectives are never attained, the victims of 'power and speculation envy' demand more and more. But let's not shy away from the harsh reality. What motivates such behaviors is called 'wealth redistribution envy'. Fueling each others' envy, as we can now see, has framed us into a fatal dead end.

It is also worth to noting that all currencies have a long history of envy. Just like fiat money commonly named IOUs, the 'gold envy' , too, has provoked countless wars when trade agreements were making rackets look cheaper. This formula is still a framework today. It would be wrong to perceive this editorial as written for Christians. Other religions and cultures refer to 'envy' as the 'evil eye'. The Bible regards 'envy' as a capital sin. People aware of the 'threat envy' will tend to live more simply and hide many signs of their successful enterprises. Developing a good sense of humility is the message here. Obviously religious leaders, in the broadest sense, have failed to teach the basic appropriate insights. To change the course of destiny, an individual realization must come first.

Let's dig deeper if you do not mind.

Because people' s envy always colludes and society's rules are made for and by the people at the top, the gap between social classes is ever worsening. No matter how well intentioned the smarter people are, they must protect their interests and (un)willingly harm the weaker. There is no real conspiracy per se, that is just how Nature works. Blind confidence in the ruling class is extremely hazardous to health.

The Founding Fathers knew a great deal about 'power envy', and this is precisely why they advocated 'self-government'. An ideal that has not gone very far and now resembles a mere utopia. Though I wish all the best to Ron Paul, the only true constitutionalist and who was last month interviewed by Google executive Elliot Schrage. Remember that hope doesn't exist unless it is followed by actions!

Envious people are obsessed with the greedy. Greed, which basically a double-edged sword, is not fundamentally dangerous since it is about protecting ones own assets more or less compulsively. It is not our business if our neighbors save every dime they can after all. Saving is good. But when greed is supported by envy, then we have a lethal cocktail. 'Power envy' and 'greed envy' are the perfect bedfellows that also go along with 'demise'.

'Envy' is also behind economic bubbles. Thinking of the word 'bubble' I almost called this column 'Born Again bubbleites'. So what is my definition of a 'bubbleite' (or bubble-addicts)? It is somebody who sees nothing amiss with the theories of a 'system' financed by IOUs, and regards debt bondage as a necessity to prosper - with envy.

Our system is a multi-layer pyramid. The upper level depends entirely on the lower one and so on. Despite the so many layers, there are clearly three categories comprised under the label of 'Born Again Bubbleites'.

The Guru-Bubbleites whose jobs are to make Wallstreeters as rich as possible, as quickly as possible, and which the common man depends upon to have food on his plate and a roof over his head. The Gurus are ready to do whatever it costs to make you believe that a well-managed monetary injection is key to sustain employment. Alas this game is a sneaky one because too much money chasing too few goods always causes inflationary pressures, which in the long run lead to currency devaluation if not destruction. Actually and among the very few who dare send a warning once in a while, we find Adrian Blundell-Wignal, a senior official from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) who argues that a g-i-a-n-t bubble threatens the world economy. He was followed closely by Goldman Sachs guru wondering as to whether 'Is America becoming a global credit risk?' If everything was doing so well, why did ECB and Fed inject $150 billion into jittery market this week?

`No one really knows how big the current credit problems are,'' said Charles Diebel, head of European rate strategy at Nomura International Plc in London in a note e-mailed after the ECB announced its liquidity-providing operation.``This is undermining confidence in the system as a whole and hence the reaction this morning.''

Again, if the global economy engineered by the monetary scientists was indeed rolling why did the Asian Stocks Plunge on Credit Fears recently? Although media complicity in the cover-ups is fading due to the Internet, the Guru Bubbleites still can get away with their sins. While they will be first looking for scapegoats when things fall completely apart. While many people wonder about the housing market, which is compared to the 'Tulip mania' by the U.S. Senate Committee, they ignore that their fate has already been decided.

Then come the Cheerful-Bubbleites or the 'icons of success envy': according to the geniuses listed in Fortune 500, Right now it is as good as it gets, says Rik Kirkland who wrote 'The Greatest Economic Boom Ever' for the magazine. Like me, Kirkland must have been scratching his head for a while. I too remember the last global good time in the 1970s and how it ended. Kirkland adds:

... a lot could go wrong. And it may not feel like a day
the beach to most Americans.

The Cheerful-Bubbleites never listen to any bad reports officially. They are much more preoccupied with their glamorous image of 'envied business people' and exploiting the so many loopholes (with the help of their wealth managers) the system has created for their discretion.

The Puppet-Bubbleites, which are the consumers feeding the multi-layer social pyramid by working hard and dreaming of success envy. They want to feel rich even if this implies having 2 or 3 jobs, living from paycheck to paycheck and buying from China while piling on debts every day more and more. The common man has no idea about the true meaning of 'inflation'. This is a world issue, no matter the culture or race. They applaud every time a lawmaker promises to deliver more IOUs. As a result there are now 600 T-R-I-L-L-I-O-N in unfunded liabilities at all levels of the global economy.

As you read this, all major central banks are flushing the system with liquidity to reassure everybody that things are under control. BoJ, for example, has already siphoned off a total of 3.6 trillion yen between Tuesday and Wednesday last week. One trillion yens is about 8,607,867,997 dollars, so do the math. Remember what I stated earlier: there were $150Bn injected by the EBC and the Fed in concerto and today (as of August 23) the Fed added another 17.25 billion dollars into the financial system in three actions. Unfortunately with 600 trillion debts and rationally speaking, how can one believe that doing even more debts and bailing out Wall Street is actually a sign of sanity?

I fully agree with Kevin Duffy who concluded that the markets are now on crack... or some powerful opiate. Choose your poison. Dire warning: when the world economy will be about to crash down, they will ask the world taxpayers to bailout the world Banks under the guise to preserve employment. This is the end of the 'money envy' as we know it.

Philosophical insight:
Although Man is the most evolved creature on Earth, unlike animals he doesn't and cannot know what is good for him intuitively. He always has relied on empiricism and knowledge. Every man moves ahead according to his own understanding. Among so many warnings that have come and go, even the most rational insights have rarely been taken into account. As a matter of fact, the ruling class is allowed to rule because information is hindered. But this is no excuse to avoid the sorry state of world affairs. At some point the 'blame-envy' game will have to cease. Man was born to be the master of himself, as long as he follows the concepts of 'no force, no fraud'.


Envy and Poverty
by Gary North


At 4:44 PM , Blogger Chris Rich said...

That's hilarious and works well as a unified field explanation of deranged material bloat. McMansions, Bloatmobiles, supersize me and a national tsunami of obesity that crashes on the shore of a half mashed health care system.

Jules Henry summed it up neatly in Culture against Man back in the 60's "People buying things they don't need with money they don't have to impress people who don't care."

His term for the pyramid top envy makers was "Cultural Maximizers."

What is a material culture really? Is stuff to be utilitarian like an iron rake or is it to be larded with fetish totemism like a hideous pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes?

An iron rake is a handy thing but unlikely to be much of an envy engine while Manny Blanny shoes are damn near worthless and damage posture while making women look ridiculous.

May it please you to know there is an interesting counter trend that a friend and I call 'Slob Chic'.

To us chic slobs an object only has its utility value and is best when we trash pick it from the glorious avalanche of material discards of a wasteful world. Yard sales and thrift shops are our shrines.

We live to starve the envy monster because we have a very intense loathing for it.

People and the fabric of our communities both outside our cheap apartment doors and online are our real focus, the stories shared, the moments savored.

Bloatworld has no grip on us and we have a particular hatred for its shock troops, the Marketing Majors who make envy a weapon of mass seduction destruction.

And it won't surprise you, I'm sure, that when we collide with the envy sheeple, they recoil from the dissonance of it all. We hold them innocent and their frenzy puzzles us.

But it is such a majestic way to live. Our idea of a boast is how little we can thrive on. A 300 dollar rent share in a cheap apartment is our mcmansion. A cheap or found bicycle is our Ferrari.

And we eat well, cook well, read lots of stuff from used book stores, have large cd collections of eclectica we bought used and threw TV's away decades ago.

I may one day inherit stupid money and it just terrifies and depresses me. A credit card is to be feared with as much menace as a furious cobra.

You'd be surprised how many of us there are and I suspect the envy implosion ahead and the liberating catharsis that will follow will be a stunning realignment as we get our humanity back and escape the imposed fate of being walking profit centers to be fleeced at every turn by vile and heartless vampires impressed by goofy stuff.

At 1:38 PM , Blogger SB Kayser-Scherman said...

thank you for dropping by and taking the time to write such a long and well thought message. Your last paragraph is definitely the way I feel too and perceive what lies ahead.

I hope you will come back and help spread the word about this horrible financial situation.



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