Capitalism both works and doesn’t work by creating wants and needs we weren’t aware we had when we got up in the morning.
Like it or not, many innovations come about because someone wants to make a lot of money. Thus, we get useful items like mattresses that aren’t made out of ticking stuffed with corncobs. And not so useful items like the Fage yogurt cup design that separates the plain yogurt from the fruit mix. (Not to mention the cryptic Fage “Suggestion: Please do not stir.”) Evil items like the insane, no-one-understands-how-they-work-even-the-biggest-quants derivatives and other financial instruments that helped tank the economy. And all the perfect-for-a-stocking-stuffer gear sold late at night on low rent TV channels. (Boy, do I have my eye on the perfect Yankee Swap gift for this Christmas.)
And, like it/them or not, capitalist economies are the source of most innovations.
Try as I might to think of any innovations that came out of the Communist systems, and all I can come up with are pairs of shoes with two left feet, and trucks with square tires. I’d also add use of the image of Che Guevara, but while the image may have Red roots, the exploitation of the image was capitalism all the way.
In any case, my feelings about capitalism are that while it’s certainly not an unalloyed good (all that dreck!), it’s certainly better than any alternative that’s been put forth and tried out for any reasonable length of time – so far, at least.
But I do approach many of the products of capitalism with a decidedly jaundiced eye, I’m afraid, especially when it comes to the creation of desire for the NEW, NEW, NEW and improved that turns folks into crazy consumers, happily tossing last week’s version onto the junk pile so that whatever’s salvageable can be gleaned by some Third Worlder, who did not grow up with the benefits of capitalism, only its downsides, and whose family subsists on twenty bucks a year – which they would be happy to spend on a corn-cob filled mattress, if only there were one for sale in their country. And they could afford it.
With my decidedly jaundiced eye, I read an ad in a recent New Yorker for something called the MINIMATE GT Personal Ionic Air Purifier – “the ultimate personal mini air purifier” from Green Giraffe. And proceeded to google on over to Green Giraffe, fully prepared to make WTF fun on this little item.
But then I read about it.
So now I’m afraid – make that very afraid – that I have been living life up to now pretty much unperturbed by the indoor air pollution I’ve been exposed to. And in the past few weeks, as I’ve tried to eradicate a nest of fruit flies that seem to have taken up residence in the bathtub drain, I’ve exposed myself to a lot more. Sure, every time my trigger finger sets off a puff of Raid into the bathroom, I’m doing a bit to get rid of these pesky little bastards. But breathing in fly-poison just cannot be good for you. (I know it’s not good for the flies. I did a mungo-spray before we left for New York City, and closed the bathroom door tight. Five days later, the bathtub was a killing field. I wouldn’t say that I had to use a shovel, but – if I had wanted to, and if capitalism had gifted me with a purpose-built fly corpse scooper – I could probably have used a spoon.)
The killing continues: a week post spray, those flies are dropping like, well, flies. So I am no doubt breathing in residual Raid vapors whenever I crack the bathroom door open to update the body count.
While I’m not sure if the MINIMATE GT works on poison, I am hopeful that it would have. If only I had seen that ad in The New Yorker in enough time to have equipped myself with one.
Here’s what I missed:
Praised by editors from the The New York Times Travel Section and guidebooks Frommers and Fodors, the MINIMATE GT has been the subject of hundreds of scientific tests performed at leading universities and research institutes around the world. Weighing only 1.5 ounces, this sleek wearable ionizing air purifier lets you fight back against indoor pollution by creating your very own smog-free zone using the most powerful ionization technology available. Contaminated air is sanitized using ionized streams of electrons which destroy the pollutant molecules.
An infinitesimal level of ozone produced in the corona completely neutralizes any residual odor-causing elements in the outgoing pure airstream, allowing you to create your own personal No-Smog Zone of purified air. The MINIMATE GT's patented emitter and grid are made of pure platinum and solid gold electroplated stainless steel. And, best of all, there are no filters to change. Ready to go whenever you are--to the gym, on the plane, in taxis, crowded elevators or anyplace you need to re-assert control over your personal air space to create a cleaner, healthier fresh air domain of your very own.
A cleaner, healthier, fresh air domain of my very own.
Now that’s what I’m saying.
I sure could have used this on the plane, even if the flight was less than an hour, and even if in summer the hawking and sneezing is less invasive than it is in winter. Which is not to say that attending to bodily functions in flight doesn’t happen, whatever the season. Why, just a few weeks ago some friends flew to Boston from Houston, and witnessed a family of four jauntily flossing their teeth. (The family that flosses together…)
And while they were too delicate to mention it, I’m thinking that this gadget would be perfect for too-long-to-hold-your-breath visits to public bathrooms, one of the true downside features of traveling.
Outperforms the bulky inefficient competitive units through use of solid platinum permanent emitter and gold-plated stainless steel collectors; powered by a single CR123A 3v lithium battery (included).
Plus it looks so downright chic.
I definitely see one of these in my future, which I’ll proudly wear alongside the other item that has MY FUTURE written all over it: one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” devices.
Who knew when I was watching Gumby so many long years ago that one day I’d be considering the purchase of a latter-day version of the Gumbometer?
We’re capitalists, dammit!