There's an inverse spiritual and metaphysical relationship between thousands of desperate people piling up at America's southern border, and thousands of shipping containers of consumer goods piled up on sea and land waiting to be unloaded off America's coasts.
What percentage of distressed people waiting for a chance to get into the United States at the Mexican border is objectionable as immigrants for this or any country? Fox News and its ovine followers would say 98%, and think they're being generous by letting 2% in.
In truth, probably 98% of the Latinos and Haitians who have risked their lives and the lives of their children for a chance to enter the United States are good people, whereas it's looking like half of America has gone bad. (And no, I'm not calling for "open borders," and that we should let everyone in.)
I don't know which is worse however - the Biden Administration sending thousands of Haitians back to a devastated country that most of them escaped from years ago, or the Trump Administration separating children from their mothers and fathers as a deterrent to migration.
When I lived in Silicon Valley, I met a French businesswoman who spent three months a year in the US in the tech sector, traveling around the country, and then returned to France. We got to talking about what happens to people after they've lived in the USA for a while.
"One year," she said cryptically. One year for what, I asked? "One year before a person loses their soul living in America."
That was over two decades years ago, and what seemed hyperbolic to me then sounds about right now. The questions are: Why do people lose their souls after a year or two in the USA?
Second, given that the French woman's estimate is even half correct today, why do so many people still want to come to the USA?
The first question is harder to answer, but the second seems fairly obvious, especially if you've been to a place where inescapable poverty and violence are endemic.
Besides obvious survival reasons, I think it's also because even though the social and political culture has collapsed in America, incredibly, things still basically work here.
Of course, right-wing extremists now speak openly on Fox and from the highest political offices of the "Great Replacement" by people of color. They refuse to see the malevolent parallels in such thinking with the most horrendous eruptions of nationalism and authoritarianism in the last century.
But I digress. The rot of racism is catalyzed by the rottenness of consumerism, which turns people against each other by turning everything and everyone into a commodity, thereby siphoning off our souls unless we're inwardly extraordinarily diligent.
So what percentage of this gargantuan amount of stuff lingering on ships, slips and lips is actually necessary for survival and a decent standard of living? Conversely, what percentage are things people don't need, but are stimulated by advertizing to desire, in a futile attempt to fill the bottomless emptiness within so many Americans?
My estimate is that 80-85% of the mountains of imported consumer goods are actually consumer bads - useless, redundant, and unnecessary vanity and escapist junk.
Less than a 100 years ago, many people who had little to begin with stood in soup lines during the Great Depression. During the height of the pandemic, thousands of cars queued up at local fairgrounds to obtain boxes of food.
It's called "food insecurity," and estimates range from 10-20% of people in the wealthiest country in the world.
Despite the much ballyhooed "reset" of values and priorities, there's now an even more voracious appetite for clothing, shoes, electronics and other stuff made in factories in Asia.
The causes of the worldwide "Great Supply Chain Disruption" are complicated. Shortage of truckers on the consumer-gorging American end, and problems restarting manufacturing and shipping after pandemic slowdowns on the Asian production end, are two of the reasons.
Also, as reported by one of the main MSM economic organs, "as many companies have ordered extra and earlier, especially as they prepare for the all-consuming [sic] holiday season, warehouses have become jammed. So containers have piled up at America's ports."
Hitting a low note of slickness and sentimentality, the article concludes: "On a muggy afternoon in late September, Christmas suddenly felt close at hand. The containers stacked on the riverbanks were surely full of holiday decorations, baking sheets, gifts and other material for the greatest wave of consumption on earth."
The engine of the disintegrating, earth-decimating global economy has been American consumerism, driven by a vacuous way of life currently imitated by peoples around the world, including the Chinese. Let's end it, now.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.
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