Jun 062013

By Bob Smith.

I like the quote fae Mahatma Gandhi faar he said  “There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed” A wunner fit the wee mannie wid say noo fin consumerism is the new religion o the warld.
Or foo aboot Vernon Howard, the American author and philosopher faa wrote ” You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need”

If aat’s the case it wid appear nae muckle fowk hiv succeeded in life.

Economist billies keep tellin us we maun spen oor bawbees so aat the economy stairts tae growe again. Iss tae me is a heap o bliddy crap. Iss is foo sum puir fowk git intae debt – bi spennin dosh on thingies they dinna really need.

A’ve heard consumerism described as bein in the business o pinchin siller oot o fowks’ pooches withoot threatenin them wi hairm. An yet a  lot o us div get hairmed bi the consumer business fit is aided an abettit by the advertisin billies an the merchandisers.

The young in society are the eens maist likely tae faa fer aa the bling. Ye ken fit a mean – they’re aa telt they are oot o touch if they hinna got iss or aat, be it the newest smairt phone or the latest fashion accessory. Lead bi the nose tae the cash tills is foo a wid describe fits happ’nin.

I can hear a lot o fowk mutterin, “they dinna hae tae spen their siller if they dinna wint till“. Aye some fowk micht stairt oot tae nae spen sae muckle bawbees bit the power o advertisin an in the case o the young, peer pressure can force them tae dee itherwise. I wark’t in advertisin fer nigh on quarter o a ceentury an ken richt weel foo persuasive ads can be, baith fae a “must hae” situation tae panderin tae yer fantasies.

Tak the ad on TV faar a young chiel douses himsel wi a weel kent body spray an his a the bonnie lassies fae miles aroon comin in bye. Tak it fae me fowks it disna work. A’ve tried it!!!

Noo fin ye’ve aa recovered fae fa’in aboot laachin aat the thocht o a seeventy plus mannie splashin himsel unner the oxsters wi fine smellin stuffie an sittin in his airm-cheer waitin fer a boorachie o gweed leukin young weemin tae pye him a visit (ach I can aye dream), a’ll git back tae reality.

A read the followin bittie jist the ither day fit sums thingies up perfectly.

“Landfills swell wi cheap throwe awa products fit brak doon easily an canna be repaired. Some products are made psychologically obsolete lang afore they actually weer oot. A generation is growen up withoot kennin fit quality goods are. Freenship, faimily ties an personal autonomy are only promoted as a vehicle fer gift gien an the rationale fer the selection o communication services and personal acquisition. Aathing becums mediated throwe the spennin o siller on goods an services. Human beins faa canna spen becum worthless”

Source:- www.verdant.net/consumerism

Noo a’ve nithing agin shoppin as a rule bit faar it gits oot o haun is fin sum fowk gyaang oot fer een or twa bitties an cum hame with aboot a dizzen, jist cos  they war a bargain. A bargain is only a bargain if ye really need it at aat precise meenit.

Ma wife leuks at me in despair as fin I ging shoppin a ken fit a wint an efter a’ve bocht it a buggar aff oot o the shop like a reid ersed bee. Ma gweed wife  likes tae dee a bittie browsin afore an efter she’s bocht fit she wints.

Fit’s wrang wi aat a hear ye say? Nithing, so far as ma wife’s concerned, cos she’s resistant tae aa the sales spiel bit ower mony puir craiturs are catcht hook line an sinker. They’ve noo becum disciples o Mammon, the god o excess. Consumerism is the ivveryday face o iss “religion”.

( Above image licensed from http://www.genderforum.org/uploads/media/286ae254d0.jpg  under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.  )

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Dec 012011

By Bob Smith.

Here comes the Retail Festival
Cooched in glossy Christmas cheer
Spen spen spen the shops cry oot
Their merchandisin moves up a gear

Maun we owerspen at Christmas
On presents aat leave us skint?
Mony fowk are left in debt
So aat shops can mak a mint

Christmas time itsel a fear
His lost it’s freenly glow
Fowk tryin to see faa can hae
The dearest presents on show

A sma present ti faimly members
There is nae hairm in iss
Bit keepin up wi the Joneses
Is some fowks idea o bliss

Hunners o poonds they are spent
On presents fer aa yer freens
Kids yammerin fer the latest
Toy or game shown on TV screens

Hotels an restaurants filled ti the brim
Yet their prices are ower the tap
Faan wull aa iss madness eyn
An prices wull stairt ti drap

Faimly Christmases used ti be
A time ti visit an hae a blether
Yet ti sit aroon the table
Nooadays fowk they dinna bither

The festivities noo a fear
Hiv naething ti dee wi the 25th
It’s aa ti dee wi consumerism
Spenin dosh on expeensive gifts

In case ye think a’m a scrooge
Tak time ti stop an think
Fit’s the purpose o aa iss spenin
Ither than bringin ye ti debt’s brink

It’s time fer a revolution
A time ti say stuff yer stuff
Resist the aa empowerin persuasion
Pit the retailers in a huff

Celebrate Christmas? Of coorse we shud
Yet think fit shud be deen
Raither than buy a material gift
Jist present yersel as a freen

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”
Image Credit: © Sergey Sundikov | Dreamstime.com

Sep 162011

By Bob Smith.

The fitfa’s up in yon Union Square
Aboot iss news I dinna really care
Wi material wealth I’ll hae nae truck
Fae me thae malls winna mak a faist buck

Tho’ fowk can spend ony wye they wint
At times a think their brains hiv got tint
Fair fleein aboot fae here ti there
Iss lemming like steer is hard ti square

Shoppies are placies I dinna like ti dally
So’s aa their spiel I dinna hae ti swally
A buy fit a wint then oot the door
Syne “faar ye gyaan” ma wife’ll roar

Some fowk o coorse wid bide aa day
Gyaan in blonde an cumin oot grey
They’re in the malls for aat lang
Peerin at windas throwe the thrang

Fashions noo are fair aa the rage
Ye maun hae the richt gear fitivver yer age
Wifies in ticht troosers wi erses richt fat
Some mannies ye winner fit the hell they’re at

Shoptill ye drap iss aa the malls cry
Even thingies nae nott they wint ye ti buy
Jist shove it aa on ti aat wee plastic card
Hiv some fowk’s brains aa turned ti lard?

Shoppin it wid seem is a national obsession
It’s aa aboot spendin an gettin possession
O as muckle stuff yer hairt dis desire
Afore oot yer body yer last breath dis expire

Aa the stuff fit ye’ve githered
Efter the money ye’ve shelled oot
A doot eence yer deid an beeriet
A fair puckle micht be chucked oot

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Image Credit: © Brent Wong | Dreamstime.com

Apr 082011

By John David Fraser.

Shop shop shop shop till you drop.
Dont ever think, dont ever stop
but wait a minute, here’s a thought.
What are these things that you have bought?
What benefits do they bring?
The hi-tech phones, the diamond rings,
and all the other pointless bling,
they are all tools of mass distraction
to distort true human interaction.

75% discount on your thoughts derailed.
Nike trainers, Adidas hat.
Wheres your logo? Whats with that?
I ask what are the deeper meanings?
Behind the scenes there is a scheming.
Something which most neither see nor understand.
The false logos. The hidden hand.

For material life, I’ve heard it say
is but a game of monopoly.
For when our souls leave this plane,
the pieces go back in the box again.

But people do not want to see it seems.
They ignore the truth to feed the meme.
The elitist oligarchy dream
to tear our souls from seam to seam.
Some people say the devil is in the detail.
I say the devil is in the retail

Nov 262010

Last week in Aberdeen Voice brought you part one of Alan Gatt’s examination of where Aberdeen and Aberdonians are going wrong, and focussed on flexicurity. This week, in part two Alan looks at how the city may be affected by the Dutch Disease, Affluenza and Hyperreality.

There’s a concept in economics called the Dutch Disease – which explains how the development of a natural resource extraction business sector (like oil and gas) and its associated economic boom can over-balance an economy, causing decline in non-extractive value-adding sectors – particularly the manufacturing sector, but also in agriculture.

The pathology of the Dutch Disease is accompanied by moral decline in the personal sphere – affluenza – and turpitude in the public sector and government as they becomes entangled with big-money business interests. Hmm… sounds familiar.

The term was coined to describe the decline of the manufacturing sector and moral fall-out in the Netherlands in the 1970’s following the discovery and exploitation of the gigantic Groningen gas field. The worlds largest ever public-private-partnership (Gasunie) was formed by Shell, Esso and the Dutch State to exploit this resource. At its height, it was not possible to say where the state ended and Gasunie began. Or vice versa. The question was meaningless.

The mechanism goes something like this…

The booming sector (resource extraction) increases the demand for labour and capital which in turn causes the movement of production away from other sectors (in particular, away from value-creating manufacturing and agriculture).

This is compounded by what some economists call the ‘spending effect’: As personal wealth (for some) increases, it causes an increase in demand for capital and labour to be directed towards the service sectors (including business and personal services, catering, retail and real estate). This, of course, further draws production away from the manufacturing sector and agriculture.

Moreover, this increased demand for service sector goods leads to an increase in prices for these goods and services. The price for the primary resource in the booming resource sector (in our case oil and gas) is set internationally, and so cannot be affected by local economic factors. As price levels for service sector goods and real estate in the local economy boom, this increases the effective exchange rate for individuals and enterprises looking to move into or out of the area. Of course, we are part of the UK and use GB Pounds Sterling as our medium of exchange, it’s just that, in this town your GB Pounds exchange for fewer service-sector goods (from haircuts to pints in the pub to real estate) than they do in most of the rest of Scotland.

The living room was the factory – the product being manufactured was him

It operates like the event horizon of a black hole; there comes a point of no return – a point where it becomes almost impossible to do anything within the local economy which is not in some way dependent upon flows of cash from Oil and Gas. “Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”.


One of the first answers to the question “where is Aberdeen going wrong?” is to question the question itself. Is Aberdeen, indeed, going wrong? Or is there something else? As I type this, I’m looking out of a north-facing window which overlooks the rooftops of Rubislaw, the sun is low and dramatically highlighting the teracotta chimeypots and grey slate roofs and silver-grey gables of the west end. Contrasting with the azure blue sky and puffy white clouds and highlighted by the remaining copper-gold leaves clinging to the serried trees which line the many stately avenues of the Victorian town, nothing much seems very “wrong” with Aberdeen from here. It’s gorgeous.

All very picture-postcard, but a nice view doesn’t mean that all’s well behind closed doors. In new-build housing we see a sort of sickly pastiche of past glories, and so we wonder to ourselves why people find themselves drawn to that style; who controls the message? Let’s consider the life of someone I know (it’s not really anyone in particular, rather it’s a hybrid, a composite – made up of many individuals and actions – some of which are me and mine, from a past life). This is a man who recently bought just such a ‘traditional’ (pastiche) house in one of Aberdeen’s metastasising exurbs. Maybe the question should be not “where is Aberdeen going wrong?”, but rather “where are Aberdonians going wrong?” His is a story which is all about ‘messages’:

The exterior of his new house is a message, his brand new possessions contained within the interior and the fresh interior scheme itself are laden with messages. His car is marque “x” which says “y” about him. He reckons it says “y” about him, ‘cos the advert and the carsalesman (his great annual friend) implied heavily that it would. It also lets everyone know what his paygrade is. That’s very important. By the badges of their cars they keep their scores in the hierarchies.

All these things are signifiers of ‘him’, but, although he exercised the final and one true freedom of consumer choice, he did not truly choose them – rather they were chosen for him; they chose him.Unheedingly he spins the hamsterwheel on the neverending upgrade cycle.Surely the next upgrade/iteration of his chosen phone/car/gamesconsole/kitchen appliance/laptop/holiday package/tv broadcasting standard/whatever will be the one which will make his life complete! He doesn’t care that the upgrade cycle has effectively rendered the ownership of his possessions merely short term leases towards planned obsolescence – that’s OK! The subscription model embraces and guides him towards a future on the upgrade path, the roadmap to forever, the added functionality, the software/hardware nexus. Mobile phone teleco business models lead the way to the free provision of hardware in return for a monthly subscription fee. The more he pays, the quicker he get upgraded to newer more functional flashier hardware which he displays visibly to the chagrin of his inferiors in the lounge bar/restaurant/leisure & retail destination (all are now one and the same).

Does it trouble him that, seen from the other end of the telescope, he is in fact the product which has been manufactured conditioned moulded and finalised by his compliant vacuous consumption of advertising media (the adverts are sometimes better than the programmes!). The living room was the factory – the product being manufactured was him. He has been told what to want, told when to want it, but never told why. A pre-indebted fully conditioned compliant producer-consumer, he is passed around by the corporations like a party whore; his contract is negotiable. He is the ‘installed base’ which the providers want to ‘upsell’ to. His eyes are the eyes delivered to the advertisers by his media provider. His subscription is the unarguably certain future revenue upon which the media providers base their corporate profitability forecasts as they strategise and organise: the world and its minds being theirs to homogenise.

A pre-indebted fully conditioned compliant producer-consumer, he is passed around by the corporations like a party whore

So does it trouble him? No, he’s too tired: crushed by the unhuman commute, enriching far-off faceless investors by his toils. That is when he’s not going through the motions with displacement activity and clock-watching till 5 o’clock and the tea-time pint (or two or three) which he’s convinced himself that he deserves; digging ever deeper into the easy-credit overdraft of ersatz happiness and good cheer from the bank of Boozy Britain. Then an exhausted evening slumped in front of the plasma, ready-meal in one hand, continental lager in the other; conditioned by advertising-funded broadcasting to be a good consumer – a commercial commodity, bought, sold and delivered gift-wrapped to the corporations; endentured, bonded, enslaved by the upgrade cycle. Then the same again tomorrow. Is this man free? No, indeed he is not. “Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”.

But the exterior of his house screams of a “traditional” and pre-consumerism era. It is a hyperreal simulacrum. Aha! Hyperreality can be thought of as a sort of reality by proxy – where the real world or experience has been replaced by a simulation at surface level only: a “real fake” which is “even better than the real thing”. Indeed, the condition of hyperreality which now permeates Aberdeen and Aberdonians is indicated by this confusion between surface and substance. The same condition of hyperreality causes our posited Aberdonian to mistake buying a “lifestyle” for actually living a life. The same confusion is seen over and over throughout Aberdeen, Scotland, the UK and the Anglosphere – we have mistaken affluence for wealth. Some commentators call this affluenza, and we’ve got a bad case of it in Aberdeen.