A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Our western world is the most carefree, benevolent society in history. So why does half the rest of the world hate us while the other half is actively trying to kill us? It’s a conundrum, and a lot of learned minds have written volumes hoping to figure it out. Forget all that crap! It boils down to the 3Gs: Grocery stores, Game shows and Golf.
Grocery Stores – In North America, there’s enough food in the average grocery store to feed a 3rd World village for the better part of a decade. There’s fresh food, frozen food, canned food, processed food and food that isn’t even food anymore. (BTW, what does “meal replacement” actually mean?) We’ve got so much food there’s an entire aisle devoted to food whose only purpose is to go on top of other food. There’s another aisle for the food we eat between the times we’re eating food. We can buy food and use it to decorate other food — and then just throw it away. Incredible as it sounds, grocery stores even have a whole bunch of food that’s actually bad for us — not to mention the 600 different kinds of sugar water we can buy to wash it all down with. And that’s just one grocery store: there are thousands and thousands of them. The industrialized West has more food than it could ever possibly eat.
Game Shows – Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right are absolute WTF moments in modern living. Contestants can walk away from these programs with more money than billions of people on this planet can earn in a lifetime — and they do it in 30 minutes or less. And what do they have to do to collect all this coin? Not much beyond spinning the big game wheel or making it “a true daily double, Alex.” However, for insult to injury TV, nothing beats Survivor. The premise of this game is that, for a month and a half, a group of Americans have to live the way the rest of the world lives all the time. After six weeks, the person who is sneaky, cunning and manipulative enough to outlast everybody else, wins a million dollars. (A million dollars!) That’s folding money in any country’s currency.
Golf – Nobody actually knows how much money is spent in the Western world on golf. Even a conservative guess would put it somewhere around the accumulated GNPs of 50 of the world’s poorest nations. A quick inventory of balls, clubs, tees, gloves, a bag, shoes, a collared shirt, and the dicky little hat and you’re into the game for a couple of thousand. Add green fees, cart rentals and all the other etceteras and you’re looking at five figures to bang your balls around a pasture every week. And that’s what it is — a Members Only pasture — and we have thousands of them. Plus, we soak these pastures with billions of litres of drinkable water, thousands of metric tonnes of fertilizer and millions of working hours in maintenance. (Some places cut their putting greens with lasers!) To produce? Nothing — beyond huge tracts of immaculately manicured, inedible grass. All for the sole purpose of getting a little white ball into a tiny round hole, hundreds of yards away from where we’re originally standing.
These are the 3Gs, and it’s this kind of in-your-face affluence that pisses people off.