money you make isn’t yours; it belongs to the government and to corporations
and their wealthy CEOs. Government takes your money through taxes, and now
we’re taking it by mandating that you buy things.”
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He was kicking and screaming as the
two beefy security guards were dragging him to the front of the store.
“Another despicable shoplifter,” I
said to myself. “Probably stealing deodorant.”
Or DVDs or socks or blinds or tires
or paint thinner, as we were in one of those gigantic super stores that sell
everything from motor oil to cheap underwear.
The guards were being just a little
rough with him and, shocked and outraged by their behavior, I yelled in
“I don’t care how poor this deadbeat
is. He needs a good head cracking. Stop coddling him. Crack his ribs, put him
in a chokehold and bust his thumbs. The hell with his civil liberties.
Where’s a cop or John Ashcroft when you need them?
“His thievery is cutting into profits
of the corporation that owns this store. The company has enough sinister
behavior to deal with; its greed-obsessed employees are demanding health
insurance, a wage that keeps them off food stamps, and that they be paid for
all the hours they work. The spoiled brats know little of and care nothing
for the dignity that comes from working long hours at low wages. The selfish
wage earners are devoid of concern for the anguish and trauma that rich, Wall
Street investors suffer when the company’s stock price falls by an eighth of
a cent and wrecks their profit-taking plans. If he can’t afford stuff, he
should get a second job.”
“But I have three jobs and I still
can’t satisfy them,” the guy, who had heard me talking to myself, wailed as
they dragged him past. “You don’t understand. I haven’t shoplifted.”
Then he shot me the saddest, most bewildered
and frightened look I’d ever seen and said:
“I just bought what I needed. Nothing
“Just what I needed,” one of
the security guards sneered contemptuously as he handed the guy over to a
waiting cop. “If everyone shopped like you this corporation would be ruined.
Drag his butt down to the lockup and keep it there.”
“What is he being charged with?” I
“Failure to unnecessarily and
recklessly consume,” a cop yelled.
“That’s a crime?” I asked.
“It is now in America.”
“On what grounds are you charging
him? What’s your evidence?”
The cops and the guards walked me to
where they had confronted the guy. In the middle of the 300-yard-long aisle
was a lone shopping cart where the store manager was angrily taking an
inventory of its contents.
“Look at this; it’s not even
half-full,” the manager said with disgust. “He’s got bar soap, laundry
detergent, bread, milk, lunch meat, a pair of socks, razor blades, and, get
this, jars for home canning! He was going to can his own food at home instead
of buying it! That’s sick.
“Look at this cart. It contains not
one electronic organizer or phone book, not one bread machine, espresso
machine, salad shooter, food processor; not a single pasta machine,
individual wine cooler, pancake maker, plasma TV, video game, hamburger patty
maker, hotdog cooker, battery-powered corkscrew, smoothie machine, deep
fryer, individual egg cooker, pasta pot, convection oven, computer controlled
toaster, water purifier, juicer, crepe pan, ice cream maker, soft ice cream
dispenser, vegetable steamer, sectioned frying pan, bagel slicer,
high-powered blender, individual blender, rotisserie, coffee bean grinder,
electric toothbrush, nuclear-powered hair dryer; not one portable abdomen
toner, bicep builder, butt reducer or thigh enhancer; not one treadmill,
stair stepper, home gym; not a single sonar fish-finder; not one digital
camera or home photo-printing machine, not a single cell phone on which he
can get stock quotes and play solitaire, not nothing!
“And look those razor blades! Double-edged
blades! He’s still using an old fashioned razor. He hasn’t upgraded in forty
years. We’ve now got battery-powered razors with fourteen blades, seven
strips of skin-soothing gel, a small screen on which you can read email, a
head that vibrates, rotates – hell, this thing will even mow the lawn. And it
only costs seventy-nine bucks.
“It’s not just his weak shopping that
concerns us. We checked his credit report. He’s got two credit cards – not
seven he should have – that he pays off monthly. He doesn’t run a balance.
This man has refused to max out his two measly credit cards.
“This man is not only a disgrace;
he’s a traitor!”
“Maybe he doesn’t need all that
stuff,” I offered meekly and with a changed attitude.
“Need! It’s not a question of
need. It’s a question of supporting the global economy and making investors
rich,” the manager stammered. “If we all bought what we merely needed this
economy would collapse.”
“They don’t consume like this in
Europe,” I said.
“Of course they don’t. And they don’t
work seventy hour weeks like we do so we can buy all this stuff. That’s why
they all get six weeks paid vacation, good pensions, all kinds of holidays
and government paid for health care. Is that what you want?
“Americans are the world’s consumers
of last resort. We’re born and bred to shop, spend money and get into massive
debt. That’s who and what we are: shoppers and debtors. The money you
make isn’t yours; it belongs to the government and to corporations and their
wealthy CEOs. Government takes your money through taxes, and now we’re taking
it by mandating that you buy things.”
“Well, you can make pancakes
and crepes in a regular frying pan. A lot of the stuff we buy isn’t needed.”
“Tell that to the guy who invented
the individual hotdog cooker, his investors and the people who run this
corporation!” the manager screamed. “What are you going to buy here today!”
“Nothing. I don’t need anything. I—”
“I don’t need anything.”
I was clubbed, cuffed and thrown into
the squad car with the other guy and taken off to jail.
Then I woke up, sweaty and terrified.
“It was just a dream,” I told myself.
“That can’t happen. Not in America.”
But I wasn’t so sure.
©Copyright 2005 by Dennis Domrzalski.
All rights reserved.