Dropping Yule Logs

I recently read a ridiculous “analysis” of the 2012 election that stated, not entirely incorrectly, that it amounted to a contest not of political philosophies but of purchasing preferences: Cracker Barrel vs. Whole Foods.  Great swaths of data were trotted out about the voting habits of those residing near one or the other of these new Laboratories of Democracy, and the results were fairly predictable: in short, those near Cracker Barrel tended to be (wait for it) crackers, while Whole Foods shoppers were somewhat less so.  Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.  Or alternatively,  the God-created progeny of dinosaur cowboys.  With unintentional irony, the author pointed out that at Cracker Barrel one could gorge on a table-tipping heap of greasy goodness for less than eight bucks, an amount which might buy you an avocado at Whole Foods.  Warming to this “liberal hypocrisy” angle, he went on to add that although Cracker Barrel has long been a vocal and generous supporter of right-wing politicians of both parties, Whole Foods also has a wingnut CEO who thinks we can solve the healthcare crisis by everyone in America buying groceries for a hundred bucks a bag at his stores.   And also, too, lower taxes on the Job Creators.  Some contest.

Basically, the writer, whose name I have deliberately forgotten, has unwittingly summarized why we occupy.  Although most Americans have long since realized that our votes no longer matter, the more romantic among us still liked to entertain the notion that our votes, in the Citizens (!) United sense, that is, dollars, do.   The Cracker Barrel/Whole Foods analogy makes mincemeat of that delusion.  I used to feel good about avoiding Home Depot (as much as possible; I’m in the remodeling business), since it was a big Republican donor and had a sleazy, domineering, and ineffective asshole for a CEO by the name of Nardelli.   Now we find its only real competitor, Lowe’s, takes its advertising cues from Christianist hate groups, and after his disastrous run at Home Depot, the despicable Nardelli has failed up to head government-funded Chrysler.

Basically, there is no longer any way to escape the clutches of the rapacious 1%, and fewer and fewer options to keep one’s money out of their grabby paws.  Like zombies, they never die, nor lose their taste for eating brains, even when brains, or in this case, money, starts to get conspicuously scarce.  They just have to have more.  In industry after industry, the maniacal need for ever-increasing quarterly profit has sucked the value out of everything we buy, from newspapers to network connections, from bananas to banking.  At the same time, it’s slashed our incomes to the point where making moral consumer decisions is, for most of us, an unaffordable luxury.  Rampant consolidation and monopolistic control has virtually eliminated anything resembling a “free” market and the endlessly touted “choice” that implies.

Just as even the most conscious voter can only choose between far right and pretty far right, the most conscious shopper can only mull the comparative advantages of pesticides and penury, particularly in a time of fortuitous economic catastrophe.  Thankfully, this glaringly obvious fact seems to be sinking in, albeit belatedly; after the much-hyped boffo sales of “black Friday,” retail sales have settled into their Great Recession doldrums.  People aren’t buying what they’re being sold.   They can’t afford to.  As Rick Perry would say, “Oops.”

10 Comments

  1. avelna says:

    Great summation of the whole ‘effin mess. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

  2. finding a good political brain in this country is like finding a good piece of lumber at Home Despot.

    And to further your discussion that that neither demographic above matters a hoot, on account of these guys…

    http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2011/12/13/the-political-one-percent-of-the-one-percent/

  3. Ché Pasa says:

    So often we don’t know who our real rulers are; our Governing Nobility is strangely anonymous.

    All we can be absolutely certain of is that those we are allowed to “elect” have no intent to ever serve the interests of the so-called “People.” None. What. So. Ever.

    So.

    Cracker Barrel/Whole Foods. It’s really a continuum, isn’t it?

    (For the record, I’ve never been to a Whole Foods market.)

    • cocktailhag says:

      I myself have been to Whole Foods, mostly with others. The last time in Napa, with the blaring Christmas music, the experience wore terribly thin.
      The only time I ever personally shopped there was back during the real estate boom, when I had some fancy Nike clients I was wooing against two architects come over to look at my final drawings for their giant remodel. I bought a middling bottle of wine, some cheese and pate’ and what have you, and what barely half-filled my messenger bag cost me $80.
      When they walked in, the wife blurted out that they’d already decided to hire me, and damn, was I pissed.
      I vowed never to go there again, and after the collapse, it proved an easy vow to keep.

  4. mikeinportc says:

    Never been to either. Don’t have Whole Foods , & will never go to Cracker Barrel. That one’s a case of taking paradise, and putting in a parking lot. It’s mainly a passers-through trap . (Tourists maybe, but not here.)It’s right next to I-81. There was a community garden there, on town land, with some of the best soil imaginable ( Chenango Silt Loam) , at least here in the land of two-stones-for-every-dirt. ~ No rocks, no s#(+! , at least not that I ever found.

    The idea was, as usual, to increase the tax base, and jobs, and attract people. As usual, it also increased demand for services, and the jobs? As usual,the usual ones at a chain restaurant, a chain movie theater, and a chain hotel.I.e, just spreading the $ around, a little thinner,meaning smaller slices of the pie for local businesses.
    Attracting people? Lol! Guessing that that ^ is quite impressive. Visitors, new arrivals, and people I met elsewhere, upon finding out where I was from, often asked what exactly that was , next to I-81. Upon finding out about the gardens, especially given it’s prominent location,they were impressed. Gone now. Eventually a new one was created, on the other side of 81, but it’s smaller, harder to get to, with poorer soil, and lost about half the people in the interim.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’m happy to say that I’ve never even seen a Cracker Barrel, let alone patronized one. Here we do protect our farmland, if only sporadically. Even near the freeways.

  5. mikeinportc says:

    ps To the main point, last quarter , corporate cash , already at record levels, went up $2.1T, while household wealth dropped $2.4T . I guess all boats don’t float the same. ;)

    The problem with that ‘ridiculous “analysis” ‘ ,that you cite, is the same as with the MSM, and politics in general, is that it assumes only two possible options , bad, and worse, with neither the obvious choice for a particular description.

    • cocktailhag says:

      On Thom Hartmann today, I heard that the UK’s Financial Times reported that historically, wages had accounted for about 62% of GDP; now it’s in the high fifties. The result? Oh, about $700 billion extracted from consumers’ pockets. It went on to say that in the past, recessions increased the wage percentage, as dividends and bonuses were held back to maintain payrolls.
      Well those days are over. In what they euphemistically called “a change in business practices,” FT said profits, bonuses, and dividends have all increased since the recession, at the expense, naturally, of workers. Five grand apiece, to be exact, came out of the 99% to enrich those other, fancier dressed guys.
      Though the FT article fretted that that missing $700 billion might be one possible cause of the current unpleasantness, they concluded by warning that a return to the older ratios would cut into profits, which (wait for it) are at historic highs.
      Sheesh.