How can people want to war with one another in our modern world of material goods and capitalism?
Work hard, get things, accomplish goals, have children, grow old and die. That is what most people want in life. Capitalism gives us a framework from which to accomplish these things and up until a few years ago, I was all for it. But, and this is a big but, there is always room for improvement, and any large system of cooperation where humans are involved and large sums of money begs the question, "how can there NOT be room for improvement".
So, let's get this straight, I am not against capitalism, but some areas I prefer to call CRAP-italism. Let me explain.
When a company makes a good product, lets say, a razor, for example, and another makes a product that is much more cheaply made, designed to fail so that the consumer gets a bargain at first, then has to go buy another just long enough after making the purchase so as not to feel they have been let down. The second company, let's say, for example, Gillette, sells alot more razors. The first company, let's just call them, hmm, Braun, sells higher quality razors. They cost more and last longer. As a consequence, they might sell fewer razors.
Okay. Get the picture. One company appeals to our human sense of self preservation by selling us a cheap product three times, while the other company sells a more expensive product one time. Who wins in this game? Let's say the quality item sells for $5 and the 'cheap' item sells for $3. The quality item lasts 5 years and cheap item lasts 1 year. Well, most people will buy five $3 items instead of one or two $5 items. So, the Gillette type company eventually gets, say, $15 and the Braun type of company gets $10, assuming the quality hunter doesn't give into tempation to buy cheap the second time.
Eventually the maker of cheap goods outsells the makers of quality goods. Here's the kicker, they may even admire the losing competition and their product. They might even buy that company -- and sell their own cheap products under the 'quality' brand name!
That is one aspect of several that I term, CRAPitalism.
It relates to another term coined by business types, 'planned obsolecense'.
I remember a conversation between a couple of engineers once about the subject of their work. One found the challenges of designing a long lasting product intriguing, while the other said something like, " Oh, making the product last forever is easy! Designing it so that it will work great for a year or two and then fail is much harder!"
Of course, there is a balance to everything. Old timers like myself tend to want nothing to change, and long for the products of yesterday. I am torn by my own dislike of waste, and desire for something new and different. New ways of doing things pop up all the time.
Another area of capitalism I call Crapitalism is in the building materials segment. Why must people and businesses continually try to imitate a real material with an imitation one, then, often sell it for more than the real thing. Instead of cedar lap siding, we have vinyl siding. Instead of authentic stone facing, we have formed concrete imitation stones. Instead of deck lumber, we have plasic resin type glue and god knows what!
From within the organisation, one can see why the corporate structure is rife with waste. The 'corporate structure' often being the basis and source of crapitalistic tendencies. The thing is, the people who actually work and produce things are at the bottom of the employee food chain. They make a wage and usually there is a lead or manager-type who presides over them. Well, the guy telling them what to do can not make less than those he or she is 'the boss of'. So, the guy who tells the workers what to do makes more than those actually doing the work. The next level of 'management' are the bosses of bosses. Every corporation has some ratio they like to maintain, maybe five workers for every boss, or no more than four levels to the top. However you slice it, the guys who are the furthest from the actual work make the most money.
Of course, this is not the case in the beginning. Those entrepreneurs with high ideals usually have an idea for great things and it is not until much later that companies become self perpetuating juggernauts of mediocre managers bleeding the cash cow all the way to bankruptcy proceedings. The path from Capitalism to Crap-italism.
Generally greed is the cause for the flaws in the system. When there is sufficient competition and innovation, things are pretty good. Once in a while, though, a whole industry gets greedy and a fair price is fixed to just below what the customer is willing to pay before complete disgust and abandonment of the product is preferred to shelling out that extra buck.
Case in point, of which there are many, modern printers. They sell you a machine for next to nothing, but you pay more for ink than you would for platinum. These tiny cartridges with a drop of ink costing ten, twenty, thirty dollars. By the time you take it home the ink will provided a few sheets of paper printing, then it is back to the thugs who have you by the print head.
Is it the stupidity of the consumer that is to blame? Perhaps.