I was out doing a little shopping, a little consuming, prowling the aisles of the Cost Plus, the Ross Dress for Less, the K-Mart, the Everything’s a Dollar Store.
So I’m at Ross, and I’m cruising the Kitsch aisle (which is right alongside the Crap aisle, across from the Broken Stuff Somebody Else Threw Out aisle) when I find the perfect thing for my front door… a hand-painted wooden scarecrow with real straw hair, a horn-o’-plenty and a precious, dangling little sign that says ‘Welcome to Our Happy Home’ in sloppy printing with a backwards ‘E’.
Isn’t that pwecious? Who wouldn’t want that on their front door?
I have a hard time imagining that there are enough people in the world who would want this crap… enough actual people with pulses who need a papier-mâché night-light of a Hobo leaning on a lamp-post whose ass plays ‘How Dry I Am’.
If there was one blue-haired cat-raising Alzheimer’s patient that wanted one of these, I wouldn’t be surprised. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover there are five, or eight, or maybe even eleven.
But thousands? Maybe even tens-of-thousands? Did Nostradamus talk about this? Are the men with ice on their helmets marching forth from Prussia?
So I think about this a little harder… this thing is made up of maybe six or eight or ten individual parts, each one cut by a power tool from processed wood products, painted and stapled and tied together, hand-assembled by nimble foreign fingers somewhere overseas.
Then of course, they are wrapped and packaged and stacked into cartons, stored in a warehouse until Macy’s calls and orders twenty or eighty or a hundred for their discerning clientele. Then they’re loaded on a truck, and sent to a train or a boat or a plane and shipped to Macy’s and unpacked and unwrapped and priced and put on the shelf and dusted and straightened and inventoried and then re-boxed when nobody buys them and returned and stored until Everything’s 99 Cents and Up buys them in an estate sale and then packed and shipped and unpacked and re-priced and put on a shelf where I turn it over and find out that it’s selling for $3.99.
So I ask myself, how much can it cost to make this crap if you can put it through a hundred hands and 10,000 miles of travel and still make a profit at $3.99? How is this possible?
Who would have thought that there was such a valuable natural resource in political dissidents?
I used to make a real effort not to buy products made in oppressive regimes, knowing as I do that they’re often manufactured by prisoners. Not that there’s a problem with that… it’s the least they can do.
But I want my kitsch to be assembled by real criminals… I want to hang my $7.99 singing rubber bass secure in the knowledge that I’m keeping a murderer from getting bigger and stronger and badder and more dangerous by keeping him in the factory instead of the weight room.
I want to know that my collectible Ron Popeil-shaped Chia Pet was molded and boxed by a genuine rapist who otherwise would have been swapping cigarettes for a pleasant snuggle with a skinhead named Preacher.
I want to be pretty sure that the Who’s The Boss anniversary potholders hanging on my refrigerator were stitched by a guy who ran a red light with an ox.
But I don’t want my crap made by a guy who just wanted his kids to have an opportunity to read a book.
But what are we gonna do? I mean, I’ve looked at the bottom of a lot of cheap-ass merchandise, and it’s virtually impossible to buy unnecessary, poorly designed and shabbily manufactured excess crap that isn’t made by a political activist – it appears that he’s the guy that made half the stuff at Ross. And the more cheap-ass crap we all want to buy, the more some oppressive regime needs to create cheap-ass prison labor to produce it and feed it to us to keep our money floating overseas.
There’s no doubt that it’s important for us to keep our economy liquid – to keep our cash out of our mattresses, or retirement accounts, or CD’s or Municipal Bonds, and instead flowing from our pockets to the cash registers of 7-Eleven and Wal-Mart and Borders, so that cashiers and stock boys and truckers and airline pilots and wholesalers and importers and advertising execs and cleaning ladies and security firms and utility companies can all reap a little financial stability. It’s the ready availability of useless crap that ensures that tasteless Americans will continue to purchase and consume, keeping our dollars out of Health Insurance and College Funds and the Boys and Girls Clubs and the soup kitchens and invested instead in wicker pillow shams.
But since we’ve created a climate in which we can’t afford to work for a tenth of what we currently work for, and we steadfastly refuse to pay enough for our consumer goods to pay our own fellow citizens a decent living for assembling our cheap-ass crap right here, we have no choice but to purchase products manufactured by twenty-three year old college students who make the mistake of searching for “Democracy” on the Internet, or forty year old fathers who wanted their daughters to have an education. Without these Godless radicals serving their much-deserved time in the factories that produce so much of our critical consumer goods, the wheels of our robust economy might come to a screeching halt.
Then I remembered. This is America… we’ve got plenty of real criminals right here, we keep them in real good shape, and they’re serving time for real crimes. Carjackers, and snipers, and pickpockets, and gang-bangers. Enron executives, and child abusers, and cop-killers, and kidnappers.
Sure, they’re busy picking up trash on the side of the highway, putting honest State Employees out of jobs. They’re cutting fire roads in the wilderness, putting honest Parks Employees out of jobs. They’re pumping iron, and having anal sex, and watching television, and studying law, and filing appeals, and having anal sex.
Surely they’d be more useful helping generate cheap crap for us to buy and break and throw away so our wheels of commerce could continue to spin. Surely we’d be comfortable asking them to contribute meaningfully in a safe atmosphere carefully monitored by Labor Officials, so we could still have cheap crap without giving oppressive governments a reason to throw another college kid in jail.
And we’d never try to create more labor ourselves by jailing political dissidents. Hell, they’re more protected than Bald Eagles. They’re safe.
So I envision a world in which we assemble all the cheap-ass poorly designed and manufactured kitsch product right here, with our own labor, keep our money local, keep our economy flush with liquid consumer dollars, and export our excess knick knacks to other countries.
I hear we have plenty of extra US flag stickers.
Those would look cool on an ox.
That’s it. That’s all I got.