The familiar line goes, “I am from the IRS and I am here to help you!” There is no way to hear something like that without having your stomach sink halfway through the sentence.
Yet there are so many others from whom the last half of that sentence is exactly the same, saying “I am here to help you,” with the same level of disingenuous and smarmy mendacity.
Everybody wants to “help you.” Who and what can you believe? Imagine somebody with such excessive naivete as to believe every single ad on TV. That person would would be penniless and wandering around in a park with a barrel for clothing within an hour.
Actually, advertisers obviously don’t expect most people to believe them, except for the few they hope to coax into actually doing something at any given point. In many cases, if anyone actually believed an ad, they’d almost have to act right away to avoid losing serious money, health or happiness in some significant way.
As a society we’ve become inoculated against claims of “help” way beyond the point we can make any sense out of it all, which means that unless there is an emergency, we pretty much just leave things as they are.
That results in lowest-common-denominator decision making, often by a daughter or son (or the family dog) who at least throw some passion, belligerence or perseverance behind their expressed wants.
So, $200 sneakers threaten foreclosures, and shiny and sugary things grace bodies, many of which balloon, inside and out. Who has the energy to resist addictions to sweets, cigarettes, booze, porn, sex, sports, celebrities or video games? Exercise is measured in trips to the fridge.
Election turnouts wane, except when one gains the appeal of a major celebrity sighting. So, people will vote in presidential elections on levels that dwarf turnouts for local elections, where votes actually count for something, and big issues of local school funding and public safety usually are at stake.
“I am from your mortgage company, and I am here to help you.”
“I am from your retirement fund, and I am here to help you.”
“I am from your health plan, and I am here to help you.”
“I am from your grocery…I am from your war profiteering government contractor…I am your agribusiness conglomerate…I am from your pharmaceutical giant….I am from your student loan provider…”
They all want a piece of you and leave you just enough to make that next mortgage and credit card payment, if you are lucky enough to have a job and don’t screw it up.
Investment banks take your money and speculate with it wildly, risking another crash like the one that destroyed your meager assets, your job and your pension.
Kids get fat because they eat the wrong food. Some schools are beginning to catch on, but they still serve cookies and cake at PTA meetings.
Agribusiness spends millions convincing us that corn syrup is just as safe as sugar. Big deal. Neither is good for you or your kids.
Agribusiness offers whole grains instead of refined products, because they sell like hotcakes now. But whole grains convert into fat just as surely as any other form of carbohydrate, just a little slower.
However, but for obesity and all its physical ails, including diabetes and heart disease, the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t sell as many pills as they do.
Got a chronic life-threatening condition? The government is putting all its money into treatment, not prevention or a cure. You’re enduring miserable side effects. Guess who benefits? That government money goes to buying pills from guess who….?
Then there are those wars that you are paying for. Afghanistan? It’s not hard to figure out why soldiers and civilians, alike, are still suffering and dying there. It has nothing to do with real national security. It’s called “war profiteering,” and the lobby for that is just too big. Get ready for war with Iran!
But having said all that, above all, don’t you dare think about not paying every penny, with whatever interest they can get away charging you, that you owe all your lenders.