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There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Consumer.

Consumers don't exist. And nothing says more about the uselessness of conventional economic theory than that.

Hi, fellow non-existee.

Consumers do not exist, except as a word and a vague deprecated class, in conventional economic thought. Oh, there are few writings dealing with the general economy that do not use the word, and there are decreasingly small niches of the field that deal increasingly with consumers as real entities, but on the whole... there 'ain't no setch animal' to most economists. Which, I understand, sounds like nonsense.

However, clear your mind and think of it this way: how are consumers represented in most economic writings and theories? As individuals? As a class with any discernible characteristics beyond ability and tendency to buy? As an active component of the system in any way?

The correct answer to the last is "yes"... but only in a fixed and passive manner.

I'll quit with the verbal fencing and put it bluntly. In nearly all economic discussions, the role of consumers is simply to be a target for... sales. It's all about sales — up, down, trending, surprising, dismal, whatever. Sales. Never a word about "purchases" or "buying." Consumers are a faceless, nameless, nearly valueless class that serves as a collection bin — or a "de-vending machine" — to balance the effect of the all-holy sale.

Does anything say more about the irrelevancy of economics to consumers (as actual, you know, individuals) than this wholly business/commerce-oriented  viewpoint? Economists don't give a rodent's patootie about the purchase or much of anything downstream from it, such as continuing costs for the buyer, or suitability of the purchase, or ability of the buyer to afford the item. No, we stop and venerate the sale. And stop there.

It's as if the backbreaking labor of slaves were only addressed as tons of coal mined, bales of cotton produced or acres of ground cleared. Oh, wait... plantations did indeed keep their books that way. Okay, it's as if factory workers were only addressed as number of iPhones or toasters or Toyotas produced. Um, hold it... of course that's how they're regarded. If the actual contribution of workers - indentured or not - is brushed aside as a meaningless collective force, it turns them into a faceless commodity... which is of course how most business, and its working tool economics, sees them.

Consumers don't even rate that highly; we have no unions, demands, compensation issues, availability issues or other direct costs. The marching drones, the frantic clock-guy in Metropolis have more humanity and regard than we do.

This revelation should really piss you off, and I hope it does.

I contend it's time for a drastic revision of economic thought, beginning with the needs and importance of consumers as individuals — and the collective needs of everyone on Earth, in terms of sustainability and quality of life, not to mention simple survival — and ending somewhere out on the fringes with corporate concerns.

As long as we remain a faceless mob holding out our bags for the proceeds of "sales," exchanging our lives to power an economic cycle of dubious worth, we will remain nearly powerless; we will be little more than our assigned role of silent, invisible economic batteries. It is time for consumers to be seen. It is time for consumers to rise.

It is time for us to go Renegade.

James Gifford (sig)

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