Black Friday gets more depressing every year… I soldier through several hardware stores, Home Depot, Sears, etc. in search of serviceable tools and stuff that ain’t Chinese junk that won’t last the winter, never mind till next black friday. The only thing approaching a good deal was an american made needle nose pliers, hammer, and saw blades. Sears had nothing but acres of Chinese made Craftsman tools, a sad fate for such once respectable brands. Homer’s provided free Wi-Fi and little else.
I’ve had it with “new”… I’ve got enough cars and motorcycles and just about everything else to last the rest of my life and probably my heir’s life too. We’re a nation that has reached “peak stuff”, and our garages are too full of stuff to fit a bike never mind a car. Spare bedrooms, attics, and basements full of stuff are further testimony to that. To say nothing of all the stuff that drives the booming storage rental industry…
Where the heck did all this stuff come from? A century ago we couldn’t afford much stuff and there was no “easy credit”, so we bought what we needed and made it last. Come the twenties and banks started financing houses, and we overextended ourselves into a depression. Fast forward through the depression and second world war, and the politicians were worried that the returning soldiers would find no jobs and we’d be right back in a depression. So they juiced the economy with GI and FHA home loans, while GM had invented whole social stratas of car makes with planned obsolescence to market them and GMAC to finance them. ‘Bout as soon as someone figured out how to put magnetic info on a plastic card, the big banks got us junkied out on credit cards, to the tune of about $10,000 of debt for the average american today.
So here we sit barely a century later, a western world with more bedrooms than we got people, a big screen TV in every bedroom and a ‘puter too. We’ve got more cars than drivers, and a couple decades production of barely broken in motorcycles is held captive in our sheds and worse. Same with our lives- We’ve paid for college degrees we’ll never use, and we’re struggling to pay them back on low paid jobs that require little more than a pulse and not too much attitude. The mantra of blind consumerism plays on, long after the jobs we were trying to save left, and we’re left to clean up all the dead electronics and abandoned inner cities.
Black friday was flop, small business saturday was a step in the right direction, now lets celebrate sustainable sunday. Let’s fix something… The LEED standards tell us that the greenest house is a rehabbed house, with as much of the original house reused as possible. The GREET standard developed by Argonne National Laboratory which takes into account the total carbon footprint of a vehicle from production through scraping tells us that even the greenest hybrid or electric car accomplishes nothing for the planet unless it replaces one that is totally, utterly, and completely worn out beyond repair. Same for education- I got a bachelors degree, but the knowledge I used most was DIY skills I’ve picked up through life. And while they can move manufacturing jobs to the other side of the planet, repairing, reuse, rebuilding, and rehabbing creates jobs here that can’t be exported.
So forget the mall… Let’s fix something!