Thursday, April 2, 2015

Adulthood’s End Part 3 (The Illusion Of Choice)

     If there is one thing capitalism provides it’s choice. Go to your typical supermarket and you’ll find more options for frozen French Fries than is good for you. Seriously, you could waste the better part of an hour making sure you get the best value and the best option available. Same with the soda aisle: the variety screams out to us from the bright colors that decorate every box of cans. True too of bottled water. This is where it gets kinda weird: Why does anybody need 100 different varieties of bottled water? Can anyone tell me the difference? Nevertheless, this is America and you deserve 100 varieties of waters to choose from. Anything less would be socialism.
     But while 100 varieties of bottled water may seem like far more choices than we could possibly want, perhaps it is less than we actually need. Perhaps the mountain of plastic bottles blinds us to the option we’d actually prefer.
     Who having an option between clean, cheap tap water would prefer lugging home cases of the stuff from the supermarket? Who would prefer polluting the environment with plastic when we could totally eliminate the waste, again by providing drinking water through the tap? Who would prefer wasting our precious resources—in this case oil used in the production of plastic—when we could avoid all that? Especially when the Middle East is such a mess, it seems a shame to send our troops over there to fight and die for plastic bottles we really don’t need. Or for the fuel required for the trucks to unnecessarily ship bottles of water across the country.
     So who would come up with such a crazy system? Someone out to make a buck. Nobody’s going to get rich providing cheap tap water, especially when the government tends to stick its nose into such matters and make sure water will be available and affordable to even the poorest of us. So in the long run, those various different bottled water companies are not competing against each other, how can they? How can one of them make the claim that their water is better than the next guy’s? You can only do so much with a picture of a snow-capped mountain. There are only so many buzz words such as “pure”, “natural”, “life”, and “healthful” you can slap on the label and still keep them large enough to attract the eye.
     Of course, some try to argue they use less plastic than the typical bottled water, as if conservation of plastic were an argument they should bring up. Nestle’s Pure Life package proudly states it has an “eco-bottle”. Re-read that sentence just to drive home the idea of how screwed up we as a society are. If you wonder why people can’t think anymore it’s because vapid advertisement has broken our brains. Words don’t mean anything anymore, they’re just supposed to sound nice. And reassuring.
     So whose water you buy doesn’t matter, just so it comes in a bottle. Same with soda. Pepsi doesn’t mind if you buy Coke and Coke doesn’t care if you cheat on it with the occasional Pepsi. The important thing is you consume teeth-rotting diabetes juice because, after all, a rising tide floats all boats. And it works the same way with politics, only in reverse. In politics, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent not to entice you to buy but to turn you off from the entire process. They don’t care if you vote Democrat or Republican, their goal is to make you so disgusted with politics that you don’t vote at all.
     That’s the system we’ve worked out as a society. These are the choices you have. Well, not really, they are the choices that are laid out for you. These are the choices they want you to make, the world they try to fashion for you. But your choices are as vast as you can imagine them to be. You don’t have to buy their vision, you don’t have to fit your mind inside of the box they have prepared for you. It’s a small world offered and in the end we humans deserve better than the world they envision. Next time you are presented with a choice of a bottled of water or a can of soda, remember there’s always beer ;)

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