The cure for consumerism

One of the consumer’s little-known rights is, not to buy stuff. This is easier than may appear. He (or even she) may be, in some sense, suffering from an addiction. But I’ve been told by the experts, this can be overcome. Take up reading, instead. Whenever the urge to shop afflicts you, open a book. Make a pot of tea, and relax somewhere. Think about things.

In Canada, today, you are even allowed to think officially disapproved thoughts, so long as you don’t tell anyone what they were.

You might also wish to take up smoking, or some other harmless pleasure. When you feel the need to buy something, light a cigarette. It will help calm your nerves.

An exception might be made for grocery shopping. But eat, first. It is dangerous to shop for the pantry when one is hungry. It can conversely be more satisfying to grow your own food. But growing your own tobacco is illegal.

My great-grandmother was quoted as saying, never buy what you can make for yourself. And as Chesterton said, anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (To which Emma, that great-grandma, would have replied, “At first.”) Even in her time, the principle of self-sufficiency was being sharply reversed. But all we need do is reverse it again.

Another tip is to take up a religion. I especially recommend the Roman Catholic one. The cycle of feasts and fasts helps build self-control. As my old friend Pascal argued, acting just as if you were a Catholic can contribute to becoming one. Then, only holiness needs to be added, and all your problems are solved. Well, except for being persecuted, but you can learn through practice how to take that in stride.

Not-shopping can be a participatory sport. It is fun to do with friends. It can even be played during election campaigns. One need not vote for any party that is promising stuff for free. They lie: for nothing on this Earth is gratis, except genuine love, for which there is no market. What comes without strings is shipped only from God. Everything advertised as “costless,” will prove very expensive in fact. I was taught this in childhood; alas, some people weren’t.

Eventually, you can wean yourself off voting entirely, but start by noticing who is making the bigger promises, then vote for the other guy. Never shop for a politician.

And never count the savings. They will be taken away from you, one way or another. Governments hate people who save money: it’s bad for the economic statistics, and it reduces the control they have over you. So they will do something about it. Sadly, now as in ages past, nothing can be done about highwaymen (that doesn’t involve a rifle).

Incidentally, pillows are among the safest places to hide gold. But don’t hide too much, or the pillow will become uncomfortable. Fiat currency — “cash” — is especially not worth hiding. It is already too bulky, and sure to inflate.

There are safer places than pillows, however; and safer stores of wealth than gold. Books, for instance, can be hidden in plain view. I’ve had my own place broken into, and the evil-doer didn’t touch my books. They make a very clever investment, which lasts even longer than a pack of cigarettes.

An even better suggestion comes from Jesus, of all people. Store up your treasure in Heaven, where it will be safe from moths, rust, and tax auditors. (I’m just trying to be practical, here.)

Several of my gentle readers have noted that my views on e.g. energy conservation sound much like those of the various eco-politicians, who could be criticized on the ground that they are batshit insane. I am unconvinced, however. The noisome politicians want your vote so they can impose their whims with a totalitarian lash. Whereas, my whims can be advanced by entirely voluntary action, quietly and with stealth.