Tag Archives: The Netherlands

On Showing Off

….After witnessing the behaviors of the indigenous people, the government was appalled at the ritual of Potlatch. They saw the ritualistic act of giving away nearly all of one’s hard-earned possessions as a sign that the indigenous people were ‘unstable’. Under the encouragement of the Indian Reserve Allotment Commission; the Indian Reserve Commission; and the Church, this behavior was deemed possibly as a destabilizing force in the nation because it was so dramatically opposed to the values of the ideal “Christian capitalist society”…..  [Wikipedia]

Ever since her triumphant return to the Plutocratic Corporate States of America [PCSA] Mrs. N. has been intrigued by something she was told and something she observed while touring through The Netherlands, which was a lot like touring Holland.

People in The Netherlands don’t put bumper stickers on their cars.  Announcing on your automobile what university you or your children attend, what political party you support, or, what your particular religious affiliations are is considered to be a form of showing off that is culturally unacceptable in polite society.  It isn’t done.  They are against showing off.  Imagine that.

On the flight home to Utopia Mrs. N. could not help but wonder why The Netherlands did not place very high on the list of countries that are the “ENEMIES of FREEDOM”?  North Korea has a crazy leader, nuclear weapons and tortures and starves its people into obedient submission.  They are on the list.  Iran, since its Islamic Revolution, refuses to permit international corporations to loot their natural resources with impunity.  They are on the list.  Granted, both North Korea and Iran have earned a place on any decent capitalists list of bad actors… but, none of them dare to hold the Goddess of corporate consumerism up to ridicule!  None of them DARE to even hint that showing off, the very foundation of American Exceptionalism, and the driving force behind the most powerful economic engine ever constructed by man is… rude, or…culturally unacceptable in polite society.  

Why the citizens of the Plutocratic Corporate States of America [PCSA] haven’t bombed the Dutch (who don’t amount to much) back to the Stone Age for their insults to our way of life remains an enigma.

[On the other hand]… In his book Escape from Evil, Ernest Becker describes modern consumerism as a second rate religion.  He goes on to say… “today we are living with a grotesque spectacle of unrestrained material production, perhaps the greatest and most pervasive evil to have emerged in all of history.”


OK, so what are we supposed to do if we can’t show off?  Just how are we supposed to feel, WHAT are we supposed to feel about a person we observe talking into their I-phone 5… when we have an I-phone 7?  How much are we capable of appreciating a kitchen with formica countertops and a white stove (that isn’t gas)?  Above ground pools?  How do we begin?  Are they “good” in the sense that children can get wet and laugh and make good memories in them, all on a hot summer day, or, are they bad in the sense that they detract from the appearance of neighborhoods with in-ground pools, forcing the passer-by to experience vague feelings of embarrassment for someone, or, a whole family, that they have never even met?    What’s worse, a snob, or, a phony?

Culture gives us our reasons for doing stuff.  It tells us what is valuable and what isn’t.  It tells us exactly what REAL is and WHY it is.  Provided one understands a culture one can, if one is careful, disagree with some of the aspects and ideas promoted by a particular culture without getting oneself tortured, killed or, otherwise inconvenienced.  You have to be careful.  But, it can be done.

The Dutch continue to walk the Earth…  after all

Mrs. N. is of the opinion today that one of the most curious things about homo sapiens in the Age of Consumerism is their extreme passivity.

Billions live in want and filth, short pathetic lives that make those of us in the West want to look away… change the subject.  Two and a half billion people will live their entire lives without ever seeing a flush toilet.  On the other hand, just about all of them will get to see TV.  On the TV will probably be re-runs of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and definitely will be commercials that will be centered on someone showing off and bragging about something THEY have that YOU don’t.  In the case of the billions and billions that don’t have Jack-Shit…. That would be just about everything under the sun.

What strikes Old Mrs. N. as curious is how this nonsense manages to perpetuate itself.  I understand greed.  What I don’t understand is what “makes” those in need and those who want “feel” like it’s somehow their duty to accept the status quo, ignore the utter unfairness, and actually look up to and treat with respect those who flagrantly parade and display the fact that they have ever so much more than they could ever need, or use.

Is that innate?

Are we hard wired to kiss ass when we are confronted by a bird with more feathers in its tail than we have?  Is it as simple as that?  Does that little quirk of a possible neurological left over from another time and place hand the keys to the Kingdom over to the graceless Plutocrats among us?  Can they sleep tight and secure knowing that the masses are hardwired for kowtowing…. and not throat slitting and bloody murder at the thought of the greedy laughing and eating cake while the less fortunate suffer and starve?

Or, is it culture that, universally, somehow, teaches us all that “IF” a person has more “THEN” that person not only must deserve more, but, should have power over those with less?

Is it some of both?

It’s gray and dripping here in Dixie and I’m wondering how it will start.  If it will start.  I’m wondering what idea, what group, what person will prove to be the catalyst that starts the chain reaction that transforms the greedy among us into the repulsive that are no longer tolerated in our midst..  Who will begin to Judge and when and how will the Judging take place?  What will it take?…  How bad does it have to get before the phrase… “Tis better to give than receive” .. is considered to be more than something dumb to put on a… bumper sticker?

Such a transformation will be hideous and painful and it may never work for long, if it works at all.  We just may not be up to the task.  Inequality, needless suffering and pain may just be our lot as humans… pathetically squishy experiments in sentience that we are…  Or, maybe there is a kid out there right now dragging a sharp key along the side of a new foreign car that costs more money than he will ever earn in ten years… and he has a toothache, and no money for the dentist.

He is hungry.  He is hungry a lot.  He is dirty too, most of the time, but, he has this thing with putting words together.  And his eyes have this special “something” that you really can’t explain that makes you feel good as you listen to his words flow out in a way that makes you feel inside that he is nothing but right about everything he says.

I would advise him to lay low.  I would advise him to quietly build an army of like thinkers as fast as he can.  I would tell him that drawing attention to himself would be deadly too early on…

Who am I kidding?  If I were honest I would tell him that he is already dead if history is any judge of what is to come.  The Plutocrats have their hounds out perpetually sniffing all around for the likes of troublemakers such as he.  It will be a miracle if he lasts the year.

Given enough time they say that anything can happen.

Given enough time they say it has to.

The question is, how much time have we got?

Kiss, kiss

Mrs. N.




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The Graduate (revisited)

You probably shouldn’t read this if you are one of those people who get a little thrill of pride when you hear one of our political candidates say things like “America’s best years are in front of us”.

“Children are our future”, the saying goes and my wife and I were given a glimpse of what that future looks like a few days ago in the check-out line at Wal-Mart.   The Gods of consumerism were smiling down upon us and, for once, we had picked a check-out line that moved at a smart pace.  The young lady doing the scanning and bagging was polite, talkative and pleasant in every imaginable way.  She engaged her customers in small talk, smiled and wished them a “great day” before cheerfully moving on to the next.  Then, it was our turn.

One of the items my wife had on the conveyer belt was a pair of little pink slippers (made in China) she was purchasing for our granddaughter, to go with a new robe she had just finished making for her.  The check-out girl remarked on how cute they were and asked who they were for.  My wife told her that they were part of a birthday present for our granddaughter who was, along with her parents, preparing to move to The Netherlands in less than a month.  [Here is where it all went bad]

With a smile and a cute laugh the check-out girl, who had just graduated from our local High School, said to my wife… “You are probably going to laugh at me, but, I don’t know where that is.”  

Neither one of us laughed.  Laughter was, in fact, the farthest thing from our mind.  Not knowing quite how to reply to this open admission of geographical ineptitude my wife said the first thing that came to her mind.  ..”It’s in Europe”

“Oh” the pleasant young woman replied… and with a laugh continued, “I don’t know where that is either”

Feeling like I had just been hit in the gut I wandered over to the Eyeglass Department as the conversation turned to how her boyfriend wanted to go to school to be a welder and how she couldn’t wait to have a baby.  There was a sign proclaiming [TWO for ONE] in the Eyeglass Department.  It seems that for $199 I could have my eyeballs examined and receive two pairs of glasses that were manufactured in China.  A quick calculation, and my mind was looking for just about anything to take it away from the scene at the check-out counter, (a buck for the frames and pennies for the lenses), clearly indicated that I was in the wrong business.

On the ride back home we discussed what had happened at the check-out.  We asked each other, in so many words, HOW something like this could happen.  We remembered to each other how we were made to do reports on other countries and draw maps with mountain ranges and rivers and natural resources, cities, ports.  We recalled the empty maps that we were required to “fill in” to prove our mastery of the planet we inhabit and that, as best we can remember, this all happened before we even got close to High School.

The question begging to be asked hung in the air.  “What else doesn’t she know?”  What other bits of knowledge we all take for granted is missing from the heads of High School graduates today and what, if anything, has it been replaced with other than high self esteem?

In our little town, on the eastern flank of The Blue Ridge Mountains, 18 teachers were just cut from next years employment at the High School due to “lack of funding”.  Art, remedial reading and music took the biggest hits.  The starting salary for new teachers is $32,ooo a year.  How new teachers are expected to pay off college loans is anyone’s guess.  It isn’t surprising that the turnover rate is staggering.  Morale is astonishingly low.

On the bright side… we have electrical power again!  We were one of the almost 3 million left without electrical power after the “Derecho” blew through eleven days ago. Intense Storms Called a “Derecho” Slam 700 Miles of the US  We consider ourselves lucky.  Thousands of our neighbors are still without.  Trees crushed more than a handful of homes on our main street and utility trucks from far away and exotic locations such as Canada have been spotted.  Wind gusts of 93 mph were recorded locally.  The storm, or, Derecho, was something, I confess, I had never experienced before.  One full hour of outrageous winds, lightning and not one drop of rain.  I was tempted to think “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”, but, a quick perusal of FOX News informed me that was all bunk and that Liberals, plotting to destroy our way of life, could be counted upon to use this weather event to further their evil ends.

I learned recently that 80% of the births last year in Richmond, our states proud capital, were to single mothers.  I also learned that 80% of the households in America neither purchased a book, or read a book last year.  Those depressing facts combined with our conversation at the check-out line at Wal-Mart have left me 80% sure that America is fucked.  I don’t really know “how” things are in The Netherlands, but, I’m betting most of the High School graduates fucking KNOW where America is!  Did you know that you can purchase marijuana there in stores that exist only for that purpose?

Do you remember those public service adds…  “This is your brain on drugs”?  

It’s beginning to sound better and better to me every day.

What are your thoughts?


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