I don’t buy it……

4 02 2013

By the time they reach my age, most people look back on their lives and wonder what was it all about? Most people sooner or later ask the question “why am I here?”….. I like to think I’m here to make a difference. Even though I’m almost certainly not doing it on any sort of important scale, I at least like to think I’ve had some impact on some people’s lives….http://sphotos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s480x480/419763_507153126001384_823137086_n.jpg

Looking around, one could easily be led to believe we are here to consume.  After all, are we not constantly referred to as “consumers” in the media?  Whose job it is to convince us to consume and consume…?  Forever.  Sorry, but I don’t buy it.

Are there any alternatives to work? Even if there are, people are so busy working that they may never have the time to find them.  It was this line from Not Buying Anything that prompted me to write this entry.  As you probably appreciate by now, I love rattling peoples’ cages, I love to wake them up from their torpor, I love to make them realise there are alternative realities to the Matrix where they live…..

The look on some people’s faces when I tell them I’ve only “worked” for six months since ~1992 (over twenty years now…) is priceless.  Glenda is absolutely convinced her sibblings think her mother subsidises our lifestyle…..  whereas in fact we live on the smell of the proverbial oily rag.  I could personally live on even less…….  but women have a special relationship with money, they love to spend it!  This is no way critical in substance, I believe it’s just an observation.

Gregg Koep, the owner of Not Buying Anything, writes “”Get a hair cut, and get a job” is understood as not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do.”  I haven’t been to a hairdresser for well over twenty years I just realised upon reading that….  though of course both Glenda and her (88 yo) mother cannot do without “nice hair”….  I hasten to add I don’t have waist length dreadlocks, Glenda’s been cutting it most efficiently for a very long time and has saved us many thousands of dollars by now I imagine…  Nor am I critical of women wanting to look nice.  And the last two jobs I applied for I got at the first interview…  So I’m not useless.

It never ceases to amaze me though how most people think that if you are not “working” you must be bludging off the Matrix.  Whereas I believe the Matrix is bludging off us.

For overseas readers:

verb, bludged, bludg·ing, noun Australian.
verb (used with object)

1.  to shirk.
2.  to impose on (someone).

3.  an easy task.
1915–20;  false analysis of bludgeon (v.) gives phrase bludge on  to impose on; back formation from bludgeon (noun) gives bludge  (v.) to use a bludgeon, whence bludger  bully, especially a harlot’s bully, pimp, hence shirker, whence bludge  (v.) to shirk
There……  now we are all speaking the same language!
Consumption, or rather over-consumption, didn’t start until credit cards came into being.  I still remember when the magic plastic came into existence.  I put off getting one for a long time, and eventually relented.  In Australia, we had just one flavour then, they were called Bankcards…..  remember them?  It must have been after 1980 that they were eventually taken out of circulation when Visa and Mastercard monopolised the system, because I can still recall the look of bewilderment in 1979 at the Los Angeles airport when, as we were attempting to rent a car, I pulled my Bankcard out when they requested our credit card…..  The hire car people had never seen one before, and nor could they get money from it.  We can pay cash I said.  CASH?!  They looked at us as if we were mad…!  But never let madness get in the way of making money, we got the car.
The power of money……  I know that as soon as I get some (which isn’t often, let me tell you), I start looking for ways to spend it.  The stuff has that effect on you.  No wonder everyone wants to borrow money, buy a new car, go for an overseas holiday, buy a bigger house, or extend the old one……  we never seem to be happy with our lot.  So we engage in wage and debt slavery.  Only by rationally questioning our social assumptions and priorities surrounding the concept of work, and by actually facing the resultant problems, can we then begin to shift toward healthier ways of living, thinks Gregg Koep.  And I wholeheartedly agree.  Of course I am able to say this from a position of having amassed wealth, such as it is, over a working career which in fact has only amounted to half what it could have been.  So while we live well below “the poverty line”, I still feel rich….. and certainly way better off than at least 3/4 of the people who inhabit this planet.
When it comes to work, I like to think of myself as a conscientious objector.  Nothing I could do to participate in the Matrix would be sustainable.  This was seriously brought home to me when I was selling PVs for a living in 2010.  I had to buy a car, a mobile, and a fax/printer device.  Then I had to drive all over the countryside visiting potential customers to assess their needs and draw up quotes…..  while simultaneously another dozen idiots like me were doing the same, and only one of us could get the sale.  Can you see the scenario where maybe a hundred litres of fuel was wasted before a single kilo of CO2 could be saved from green energy?
When I finally quit after a tick bite made me really really sick, it was without regret.  I’ll never “work” again.  I’m over it this time.  In any case, it’s only a matter of time before we have economic collapse, and everything we’ve been brainwashed about comes to pass as the biggest mistake humanity has ever made.
And here’s some light entertainment for you…….



9 responses

4 02 2013
Greg Bell

I’m always struggling with this. We’re surrounded by a society that runs off money, so we’re always needing to spend SOME amount of it. A PC, internet service, and petrol, at least. I made a comment about this just today over at PRI ( http://permaculturenews.org/2013/01/25/shauna-teare-puts-permaculture-to-work-in-the-slocan-valley-british-columbia-canada/ )

I guess my real (personal) question is, I’m all on board with the philosophy but how do you buy the stuff you do need?

(and it wasn’t Solar Shop Australia you were working for, was it?)

5 02 2013

You actually got one very good comment at that link Greg…. A long time ago, a good friend of mine (the one who woke ME up from my torpor…) told me “we do the things we do, because we can…”. This really stuck with me. We drive cars and fly in airplane because we can still fuel them up. We deal in money for the same reason, we still trust it’s worth something.

We live on about 1/3 the money you do (from reading Permaculture News), which can only mean I’m a fair bit older than you!

4 02 2013
Andrew C.

Finally caught up on your blog (found it via “Do the Math”).

I can see building a home similar to yours using reclaimed materials for next to nothing, minus the expensive bits like the PV panels and the plumbing. However, you will always need money to own the land, or pay the rent, and even if you own the land outright, there are still property taxes. I guess we could all retire at 30, but there will always be some need for work and money as far as I can tell.

As far as credit goes, I couldn’t agree more!

5 02 2013

The only reason I built our house from conventional materials was because at the time I was still foolishly thinking I could convince the building industry it was a worthwhile thing to do….. Live and learn. As it is, this place hasn’t got a “final inspection approval” BECAUSE the authorities would insist on me pulling out some of the features that make this place as sustainable as it is……. like my recycled windows and doors.

I actually “retired” at 42. No Douglas Adams, it was totally coincidental…! I hasten to add, Glenda continued nursing part time while I was going through the mid life crisis I was never going to have…….

We paid cash for the land (it was unbelievably cheap by today’s standards..) from funds we had from selling our previous Mt Nebo block. Owning land outright is the first step to living independently of the Matrix, especially if you’re not fussed about matching what everybody else thinks is “normal” living standards. We pay our rates (land tax) from the proceeds of the solar power we sell to the utility. But of course we had to have money to buy the solar power, and we were lucky that Glenda’s superannuation had not yet gone down the blackhole awaiting all superannuation funds….

To be honest, we’ve been making it up as we go along. And I would hate to be starting from scratch now, that’s for sure……..

4 02 2013

” So while we live well below “the poverty line”, I still feel rich”
Mike, one does not have to be wealthy to have a life blessed with the riches of happiness and family. In the past I have said to one group of friends that I have more money than James Packer. When they suggested that I might loan them some of it I explained the reason for the comment was I had enough money while James apparently doesn’t. It seems that we have many would be James’ in our society. To live frugally is about the best thing we can do for the planet. At our place (Upsendowns) we garden which costs very little and keep some sheep, which saves having to waste fuel mowing and provides manure for the garden. This took about 30years to achieve in a no debt situation, but it is worth it.

4 02 2013

If you enjoy what you’re doing then it’s not “work”, pure and simple. I’ve been in that situation occasionally (even in my current employment which I grew bored with long ago, and the contrast is stark, believe me) but I confess that the majority of the time I have not been so fortunate.

5 02 2013
Matt Ruffin

I totally agree with this, Mike. There’s been plenty written about the way in which “people” were turned first into “citizens”, and then into “consumers”… personally, it makes me feel physically ill since it’s pretty clear that hyperconsumption driven by unreasonable lifestyle expectations is what’s driving the destructive transformation of the planet’s natural systems on which we all rely.

Like you, I have chosen the path less travelled – I have 3 jobs, but they only total about 25 hours a week and I usually enjoy them. I live off $300 a week but could live off far less. I avoid consumption whenever possible. And even though I do these things and avoid the consumptive lifestyle, I’m happier and less stressed than most people I know. It is all a grand con, such a pity so few people see through it.

6 02 2013

I was just pointed to this……. http://wholelarderlove.com/hard-at-work-living-simple/ I’m sure you’ll like it as much as I did…..

7 02 2013

Great post Mike. @ Matt, well said! I have also come to realise that there is no need for me to work to live! For me personally, working all week long just to get 3/4 weeks paid leave a year does not bring happiness. Most of the year im stressed, worried etc Is that what life is all about. I ask myself from time to time, was I put on this planet to work in a job that I dislike and be unhappy for most of the year?! What woke me up from the matrix, was a few Zeitgeist clips. That really got me thinking! I don’t see the point in working myself to death….so that when im 65 I can retire. That just doesn’t sound right to me! We will not achieve sustainability without putting an end to the rat race.

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