Today I was reading the latest Time magazine. My favorite part is the column Joel Stein writes that is near the back of the magazine. He is the funniest magazine columnist I have read in a long time and this post has nothing to do with him.
What it has to do with is that when I turned the magazine over I was pleasantly surprised that there was a full paged picture of a female swimsuit model on it advertising this years Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Which will be on shelves some time in February. I’ll probably get one; just for the articles of course.
This made me think of how captivated I was by Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions when I was 13, 14, 15, 16…..well you get the idea. I spent a lot of quality time with those models and fixated on them from the time I first learned how to take off my own swimsuit. When we were kids it was the closest thing my buddies and I had to a Playboy or Penthouse.
This story really isn’t about a swimsuit magazine either. It has something to do with my lack of reaction to this picture of a beautiful woman. I didn’t have a sudden overwhelming want to be with her or a sudden wish to be home alone for at least three minutes and no longer than an hour so there’d be no blistering. I appreciated how pretty the girl was, but, with my aging, addled brain, my second first thought was why would a girl demean herself like that? My first third thought was where’d that thought come from? But my concern was she was using her overflowing beauty to make it in the world, when I can tell from the picture that she is a highly educated and intelligent person.
The answer is obvious. She has millions of reasons to do that. The money available to the prettiest females and males of our species is unbelievable. That made me think why are they so valuable? The easy answer is we are a shallow and empty people and, though that is true, it is still a shallow and empty answer. Neil Young sang in “This Notes for You”
Ain’t singin’ for Miller
Don’t sing for Bud
I won’t sing for politicians
Ain’t singin’ for Spuds
This note’s for you.
Though the lyrics are slightly antiquated I can still tell he is against selling out, but he still accepts money from people who want to relive the Woodstock generation.
Which leads me to the next idea this really isn’t about. Each one of us is responsible for what we value in our society. Now you’d think you’d be right if you said your preferences don’t matter or that you don’t decide that ball players, actors, models, musicians, and others make gazillions more money than teachers, scientists, police officers, fire people, other first responders, the military, the president, and so many more that protect us from the horrors of us running naked in the streets while reciting nursery rhymes. Why does Chris Brown, the person who beat up the beautiful Rhianna have a larger stock portfolio than Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard Universities president. Hopefully that statement is true, because I just used it and because it might ruin my premise if it isn’t. See how tainted our values are?
So how do our choices impact who gets the big rewards?
I’m glad you asked. Our society makes choices each day on what is valuable and what isn’t and our societies choices are just the sum of each of our individual choices. So it is us who decides what is valued and what isn’t. We each can claim it isn’t our choice that Sylvester Stallone makes way more money most years than Barak Obama will make in his lifetime, but it is.
Our choices, the ones we make everyday, decide what our society values. If we didn’t buy so many magazines, selling such lovely merchandise, because we’re attracted to the beautiful girl who is wearing a swimsuit more revealing than underwear worn by Victoria’s Secret models, than she wouldn’t be getting paid. If our need to escape reality wasn’t so necessary we wouldn’t pay $250,000,000.00 to someone to hit, chase, and throw a ball for less than 10 years. And, yes, that looks like an even crazier amount of money when you can see all those zeroes.
I’m not here to preach. We all know that our society has the same sanity as Lyindsay Lohan has after visiting Charlie Sheen during a snow storm, but not one of us think we supply their tiger blood. It’s our money they have fun with. The money we spend on products advertised during the reruns of Two and a Half Men funds Charlie Sheen’s ability to pay hookers with crisp $100.00 bills.
The election that just ended left a majority of us up in arms over how much influence just a few happy billionaires seemed to be wielding. They each became billionaires by collecting one dollar at a time for services or products we badly wanted, like Pepsi White, inflatable toast, DVD rewinders, and under wear for your hands. All real products you can see here. Some inherited their money from the inventors of slinky’s or silly putty. They all got their power from us and we give it to them one dollar at a time. One thing they didn’t get is the majority of our votes and that should give us some hope.
Can We Change This?
Don’t ask me. I’m not willing to stop driving through a McDonald’s drive thru once in a while. You aren’t going to stop me from watching the Super Bowl. I’m using my laptop right now, which you would have to pry from my wife’s cold dead hands before I stopped using it. What? You don’t expect me to die for a laptop do you?
Even more important, I’m not ready to give up on my dreams. I, like most people, still feel I can make it. I still think I can hit that payday that will make me one of the comfortably happy people with lots of money, power, and no worries. There’s going to be lots of people who will buy a new car off the profits they’ve made off my dreams as Stevie Winwood puts it. Traffic‘s music is one of the escapes that I’ve paid money for. My largest contributions used to go to Budweiser. It was a lot less healthy than listening to Traffic, but the fine folks at Anheuser-Busch InBev didn’t care. They just kept collecting the money that I should have fed my kids with, but that’s not important. What’s important is that Anheuser-Busch survived prohibition.
What is it that drives us all this way? Why do I still keep buying the lie and USB Pet Rocks and George Forman grills? Why does tragedy and destruction get better ratings than food drives and Polio eradication, which we’ve almost done. The control we surrender to fear, misinformation, and slick sales jobs doesn’t just keep us enslaved, it makes a micro portion of us very rich. So the next time you fear the end of the world, that you’re falling behind the Joneses, or that you can’t stand the person in the mirror just remember your finances are finite and that once you’ve spent your money and the problem hasn’t gone away you’re still going to have to deal with it the same way you should have before all your money was gone.
Pretty demoralizing I know. So until we smarten up I will sit here patiently waiting for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition while watching the Celtics on my HDTV. What the hell, I’m not dead yet and what I do isn’t going to change anything. Now to water my Chia Pet.