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AdLib On June - 7 - 2011

Have you ever been to Costco on the weekend? If not, you are missing a great opportunity to view a regularly scheduled allegory for American society.

On the weekend, sample trays and exhibits for a variety of foods and products are set up on various aisles throughout the store. From pot stickers to lime yogurt, from swiss cheese to coconut water, a diverse cornucopia of free food is presented to the public, intended to convince the public of what they should buy.

Who doesn’t like something being offered for free? In fact, many people eat samples of things they don’t really like simply because it’s free (“Aw, what the hell, I’ll try the green tea flavored seaweed crisp!”). It would be an interesting social experiment to set up a stand there offering samples of “Cardboard Quesadillas”, cardboard sandwiching melted cheese, just to see how many people would try it despite being fully aware of what it is.

There is a kind of hunter-gatherer thing going on with people at Costco, once they realize or remember that there is free food to graze, they’re casually spying around corners, cruising up towards a sample table as if they don’t need a free snack then snapping it up without making eye contact with the preparer. People are magnetically attracted, waiting in swarms for the next plate of samples to be offered. When the samples are ready, hands swoop in swiftly like eagles snatching up prey…with some bewildered eagles left momentarily hovering over the barren plain below.

Some folks act casually, as if it’s no big deal if they get a paper cup of scissor-cut chimichanga or not, others roll their cart past those waiting and just snatch a piece as they roll on (often older ladies). Some allow others to go first, others take several samples for themselves, leaving none for others.

Our Weekend at Costco is a ready allegory or at least sample of our consumer society, particularly when it comes to how people interact with the society around them.

Primarily, there is the ready consumption of whatever is freely offered. This aspect of consumerism isn’t necessarily confined to one type of product or another, whether at a sample table at Costco or on one’s television. For example, whatever the MSM offers as news to the public, is just as immediately consumed without much discernment. After consuming, the result may be, “That left a bad taste in my mouth” but no matter how bad that “byte” of news  was, it is still consumed and is still being digested.

So, the public consumes things sometimes solely because they are readily available. This can be bad for one’s physical or mental health as the old adage, “You are what you eat,” is quite accurate, as anyone who’s seen McDonalds frequenters who’ve squeezed their Big Mac shaped body into a bathing suit at the beach can attest.

Consuming something based on it’s availability instead of the quality of it’s ingredients or the reputation of its manufacturer necessarily puts the decision making of what one consumes into the hands of the entity that can make it most available. Such an entity may have little  concern for what substance is in what’s being consumed. In fact, it means greater profit for that entity to manufacture a product as quickly and cheaply as possible regardless of the value of its content. Investing time to improve the quality of a product, when the key selling point of that product is availability, would appear to most businesses to be a waste of resources and a loss of profits.

So, applying this to the MSM news industry, the cheapest way that they can fill their “sample tray” with tasty treats for the public makes the most sense. Analysis, investigative reporting and critical thinking invested before presenting the free news-nibblies for the public is seen by the corporate management as wasteful and they’re proven right each time the public devours their empty-caloried offerings. There is little incentive to produce a higher or more conscientious quality of news for consumption if what can be produced cheaply and of minimal quality is always gobbled right up.

Pundits seem to be most like the folks who cut lines to grab the samples ahead of others, selfishly intent on just filling their own bellies. They thrive on the cheapness of news, with so little substance or perspective in it, they happily fill that void with their own ego.  And the public is ultimately left to watch such self-centered people happily continue on while the public is left with nothing of substance.

The way people respond, individually and as a group, to certain stimulus can be consistent despite the difference in the specifics at hand. When it comes to consumption, of food or information, there are similarities in how people behave and are motivated to consume. The billions that have been spent over decades, through market research and through measuring the results of consumption through profits and ratings, have made the corporations that sell to you (as consumers and voters), experts in knowing what buttons are most effective to push to get the desired response from people.

The one thing that sabotages all of this is awareness. Once a person or the public becomes aware that their behavior is being triggered or exploited intentionally by others or they become critical of how they’ve allowed themselves to behave, they can retake the power that’s been robbed from them.

When it comes to news, one can’t watch nonstop coverage of Weinergate then complain about the media spending time on it instead of far more important and urgent matters. If folks choose to pass by the sample table when childish flirting “scandals”  were being offered and instead gathered around the Climate Change demo table or another table with something of more substance to offer, there would be tastes of more worthwhile things in the following weeks.

Consumers ultimately have control over what is sold to them based upon what they choose to consume…or not consume.

Just something to chew on…

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

103 Responses so far.

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  1. polishlogician says:

    Enjoyed the article, the tacit comparison of quality/quantity is always compelling. I’ve never shopped at Costco, but if I were offered a free sample, I’d first ask its ingredients. If the box/bottle/package were there I’d read it and then decide whether or not to graze in the commons of sampledom.

    I’ve tailored my diet to the point where some verbalize their non-nutritional-based frustration with my selections. To them food is food. I disagree. And to fit your metaphor, sometimes news just isn’t news either.

    • SallyT says:

      I wish I was as disciplined as you. I know I should read more labels but I just get so in a hurry. You are right to do it and I need to work on that because the only one I am hurting is me.

  2. KQuark says:

    The strongest point you make is those in the MSM and especially us at home should reject the unending sensational journalism. Face it the only reason these stories get legs is because American people love watching a car wreck. It really does not take to much to stay away from the media during these feeding frenzies if they go on too long.

    Remember way back when, Moveon.org and KO’s pundit career were started off the fact that they refused to pay attention to Clinton’s scandal anymore.

    It’s time to moveon again and focus like lasers on saving progress like SS, Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA or we’ll lose those in the 2012 election too.

    • SallyT says:

      KQuark, I don’t know if you care to know or not but Countdown/KO starts on Current TV on June 20th. You can find him now on their website Current.com now. They give you a look at his new newsroom. Nothing fancy and lots of young people. Same ole Keith, tho, incase you don’t like him or you do.

    • ADONAI says:

      But I’m a firm believer that if more people took time out of their day to watch Maury Povich, the world would be a better place.

      • choicelady says:

        Snark! I am not a fan because there are only so many desperately overweight, tattooed and toothless people who’ve screwed up their lives that one can handle.

        They leave me with the burning question about whether this is the best America now can be? Are these “Palin’s America”? These are people who have no education, lousy jobs if they’re employed at all, and who live as if their lives were soap operas -- perilous, always on the edge, fraught with fury. I realize that High Drama -- disloyalty, betrayal, rage -- are about the only excitement they get, but it’s exhausting to watch people make their lives worse and worse by the minute because they’ve no hope of anything better and have no ability to defer immediate gratification for long term improvement.

        They are the highly marginalized, but they ape the upper class that does the same, just with more aplomb. The American appetite for watching the “car wrecks” of such lives, upper or lower class, appears endless.

        And all the time we’re watching Maury -- like the slavering crowds watching hangings or beheadings -- the fat cats are behind us in the crowd picking our pockets and making our lives that much worse.

  3. KQuark says:

    Costco is the new soup kitchen for McMansion owners I guess.

    • choicelady says:

      KQ -- that is actually the truth. I’ve seen people, clearly down on their uppers, use the free food as lunch. Not at all a bad strategy, though you do have to shell out a membership, even if it quite predictably produces malnutrition.

      I suppose it’s not much different from the “china nights” at the movies during the last depression -- you went to the flicks and got cheap china piece by piece. Then there were the days of “free glass with a fill up” -- I own some. One does what one can.

      BTW -- like your new avatar. Is that what you REALLY look like, stylized, of course?

      • oldpol2 says:

        My son worked at Costco while going to college. School was expensive and those little food handouts were his favorite things. He would make the rounds at each break. it was a good company to work for.

      • SallyT says:

        Choicelady, I have the Jelly glasses from my youth and my “older” sister. I don’t know if you remember but they use to put stripped towels in laundry detergent. Oh, and have pillow cases of my mother’s made from flour sacks. Thanks for bringing those memories up in my mind today.

  4. SallyT says:

    AdLib, I never thought of Costco and MSM having similarities but you certainly made me see it. I don’t go to Costco but maybe once or twice a year. I can’t get out of there without spending more than I should and buying more than I need because I can’t roll by the bargain, just to let most go to waste because I will never consume it all. But, I have a problem with Costco and especially WalMart for another reason. I feel they have costs us the small neighborhood stores and local employment and its development. Sure they hire people but not the same way and with the same relationship. And, the big stores get tax breaks and don’t give back to the town. Yes, we all want stuff cheap, no matter where it comes from. However, we cost us so much more in our here and now and all around. Wasn’t it nice when you could go into your local store and they actually knew you? I guess we can even find a similarity there, too, with our MSM. They don’t really care to know you or give you anything you really need.

    • choicelady says:

      Kes -- I won’t shop WalMart because of their employee policies which are despicably rip-off, but Costco provides excellent wages and benefits. I don’t buy things there I could buy elsewhere, but they have items I can’t get in smaller stores, so I use them for that (oh, OK -- I buy kitty litter there since it’s cheaper and the only one the kitties seem to like. And at 30 pounds per container, hefting it is my substitute for the gym. OTHER than that, no overlap.)

      I do wonder -- often -- at why small business never seems to raise its voice at having to pay taxes to subsidize their own competition? Small business has a lot more in common with people on social programs who are their customers than they do with other businesses that seek the death of the small business.

      Back in the last “Great Merger Movement” c. 1890s, thousands upon thousands of small businesses were driven out by giant conglomerates. My own great grandfather was a victim of Nabisco; his patented cracker, sold in rural Illinois, was driven out by the “loss leader” practice of underselling him until his market had narrowed to only his own immediate town. Those who support the “free market” don’t see that as predatory -- claim it’s fulfilling consumer demand -- except it’s not fair trade. Selling below cost to destroy competition then raising the rate after gaining monopoly is fundamentally NOT “free market” but is predatory practice. We have come “forward to the past” by letting that happen again, only this time with taxpayer subsidies.

      It’s not government that curtails our freedoms. It’s the market practices. Our choices are narrowed not just in commodities we can buy but in our flexibility, our ability to develop creatively, our capacity to innovate, our ability to work and make a decent living. I don’t mind Costco because of its niche and its responsible employee practices, but big box stores that set out to end competition and destroy local control are a menace. And we think we’ve won something when they come to our town. Not.

      • SallyT says:

        Wow, Choicelady, you said it so much better. That was the point I was trying to make but no way as good as you. The small business do raise their voices sometimes, like I said about our neighborhood’s fight to keep HomeDepot out.
        “Wal-Mart displaces local small businesses, it also typically reduces income and employment for local business — service providers, such as lawyers, bankers, accountants, printers, and newspaper publishers, since those services are centralized in Wal-Mart headquarters. Weakening small-business and professional networks further diminishes the community’s social capital, according to economists Stephan Goetz and Anil Rupasingha.
        Wal-Mart has also quite likely reduced U.S. employment throughout its extensive supply chain, despite suppliers’ expectation that they would hire more people as Wal-Mart sold more of their product. But there are stories, well documented by Fishman and others, of Wal-Mart’s virtual dismantling of iconic supplier firms such as Huffy (bicycles), Master Lock (padlocks), Lakewood Engineering & Manufacturing (fans), and L.R. Nelson (lawn sprinklers).
        In each case, Wal-Mart kept demanding a lower price, at times challenging suppliers to match the price of cheap imports. The companies improved productivity, cut corners on quality, and pressured their own employees and suppliers (who in turn tightened the screws on down the line). But eventually, Wal-Mart pushed these suppliers out of the country to China, Mexico, and any other place that could match “the China price.”
        Taken from an article of American Prospect.

      • kesmarn says:

        I appreciate the comments, c’lady, but I think you meant them for Sally, right? 😀

    • AdLib says:

      I strongly agree with you that the mega stores, especially those not in big towns, smother small businesses. In this case, it’s the lesser of two evils.

      As I noted below, Costco is at least unionized, pays over double on average (over $17.00/hr) what Walmart pays in salary and has good medical benefits.

      In a big city like LA, it doesn’t seem to have displaced smaller businesses as opposed to competing with other big entities (like supermarkets, Target, Walmart, etc.). We do patronize local businesses though and this is not a promotion for Costco in any way.

      I use Costco in this article merely as allegory for how the public is fed en masse by corporate America and the MSM, happily consuming what’s offered to them not because it’s of quality but because it’s so generously offered and easily consumed.

      • SallyT says:

        Sorry, AdLib, I guess I should have read further down to see I repeated something already covered. Costco does pay better, I know several that work there. But, AdLib, even big cities have local neighborhoods and the store on the corner. Although Portland isn’t as big as LA, we still have our local neighborhoods. In fact the one I lived in fought hard and succeeded in keeping HomeDepot from moving in and protected our 100 year old plumbing store, the local paint store and little appliance store. Don’t know for how long they can keep them out but they won that round anyway. We didn’t use to have to drive for everything even in the city, we just had to stay in the neighborhood. If gas keeps going up, I think we will see the small neighborhoods coming back.

        • Khirad says:

          Heh Sally, you live in the Farmer’s Market capital of America. I don’t think it’s fair to compare PDX to other cities! 😀

          • kesmarn says:


            Not exactly Rudy’s Hot Dog in Toledo.

            I don’t want to think about the various unknown parts of sundry animals poisoned to death in China that end up in Rudy’s hot dogs…

            And yet, the Dionnysiou brothers are in their 80s… Maybe they don’t eat their own hot dogs? Spinach, black olives, feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil on the home front? Along with maybe a chicken from Portland?

          • SallyT says:

            Khirad, so true, that is us. If I was comparing Ptld to other cities, well, slap my keyboard and call me a bicycle. There is no comparison.

        • AdLib says:

          It certainly doesn’t help local businesses to have more megastores set up in town but Target, Kmart, Walmart, etc. probably closed down the bulk of small businesses before Costco came to town.

          The downward pressure that megastores create on income, with store owners reduced to employees at low paying corporate businesses, squeezes them into needing to reduce what they spend and pushes them towards buying their groceries and such at megastores.

          A very clever long term plan by Walmart and others but it has a breaking point. Eventually, as inflation makes even their prices too high for Americans with stagnant wages to afford, the system falls apart.

          If we don’t want things to come to that, we have to push back on corporate control of this nation now.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            Adlib and KQ: yes, economic destruction is the result, but also environmental destruction that could have far worse consequences. The mega stores sell mega products. Factory farmed beef fed on soybeans and corn where rainforests used to be. Plants for human consumption grown artificially on a pitiful portion of topsoil that is left, denuded of nutrients because it hasn’t been allowed to rejuvenate through fallow periods. New strains of viruses and bacteria as the plants and livestock immunity systems are in a state of collapse through steroid use, pesticides, and all sorts of toxins.

            The devastation when THIS reaches its denouement is going to be the worst thing humanity has ever faced. The End of Food As We Know It.

          • SallyT says:

            I agree with you. In seeing foreign countries (and that is only on the TV) they have small neighborhood stores because they only buy in small quanities. They don’t have great big refrigerators, in fact, they don’t have big kitchens usually. We were discussing that on here last night about HouseHunters International. They buy fresh food and eat it that day. Of course gas is so much higher for them that they want to walk to their stores. We Americans think we need a lot and a lot all the time.

            • AdLib says:

              I’ve traveled a bit and that’s what I’ve seen in other countries, buying modest amounts of fresh groceries daily from local merchants.

              There are Costcos and Walmarts around the world too but this more local way of life is more practical and healthier.

          • KQuark says:

            I still don’t get how the Walmarts of the country think these strategies are sustainable, especially buying manufactured goods from China and selling them to Americans. Eventually the wage crunch will eventually cut into their profits.

            • AdLib says:

              That’s the thing, I don’t think Walmart is any different than Goldman Sachs in operating solely out of unchecked greed and accepting that their pursuit of it will eventually lead to a destruction of the economy.

              As negative as it sounds, they see the game as grabbing all they can as quickly as they can so that when their game eventually blows up the economy, they will be the ones with everything.

              I can’t believe they don’t know that the end game of their strategy is economic destruction.

        • SallyT says:

          Oh, and AdLib, I understood the point you were making using Costco. Didn’t think you were promoting it in anyway. I was just trying to make another point with a different example using the same starting point. I guess I missed again.

  5. Abbyrose86 says:

    Although I loved the analogy…I must admit, I don’t understand the obsession that so many have with shopping. Call me un-American if you must…but I hate shopping with a passion! And the bigger the place and the cheaper the junk the more I hate it.

    I’ve never been in such a place as a Cosco and I never will…so some of the descriptions were lost on me.

    But I did get the metaphorical connection to the whole of our society..especially with the media. The junk that passes for news and for that matter entertainment these days, is simply pathetic!

    Seriously…what the hell happened to the idea of QUALITY and what happened to wanting to learn, and understand what is REALLY going on around us??


    • AdLib says:

      Consider the whole Palin tour last week and her spouting of ignorance about even the most basic American history that even school children know…in American society, the value placed on quality competes head to head with the celebration of simplicity.

      And not simplicity in a materialistic sense but simplicity in thought.

      The easier it is to to acquire information and an opinion and the easier it is to understand something, no matter how flawed it is, can stand as an equal or preferred option to some against expending effort to seek out truth on one’s own.

      There are both laziness and convenience factors to why people so readily consume empty calories from what passes as network news.

      But people who are being oppressed can reach a point where all the distractions the MSM can throw at them can’t obscure their suffering at the hands of those in power. As we saw in Egypt, no matter how oppressive a society becomes, eventually, there will be a pushing back against the status quo.

  6. ADONAI says:

    What’s a Costco?

  7. funksands says:

    Soon the Costco Mariners will eliminate the need to decide whether to shop at Costco or go to a Mariners game.

    Why not do both?

  8. escribacat says:

    I confess to being a Costco addict and only recently cleaned out my pantry, which was overloaded with jumbo packs of pasta and chicken noodle soup. And like Cher, this A-type hates those dang munch stations — to me they’re just traffic jams. I do realize that some people just go there to munch but I go there to see if I can get out of there for under $100. On the rare occasion I do stop to munch, I’m always properly embarrassed.

    But I realize your post is actually not about Costco, per se. It’s about quality versus quantity. It’s about how we’ve lost a taste for quality in this country (if we ever had it). I believe Hollywood and TV-wood is going through the same thing. They are canceling their expensive programming in favor of much, much cheaper reality television shows.

    It’s easy to think that we, as a nation, are in deep trouble because so many people don’t know who Joe Biden is or where England is located on the globe. It is frightening. But I’m not sure it was ever any better than this. Maybe right after WWII and the GI Bill sending so many young men to college? Who knows. Whether it’s new or not, I really don’t think most people know the difference between real quality news reporting and drivel.

    I was talking to my niece recently about her upcoming application to an MFA program in creative writing. We were talking about her “Why I want to do this” essay, the type of thing everyone hates to write. I suggested to her that what the school is looking for is someone who wants to live the life of letters, keeping the love of literature alive in an intellectual wasteland. The same goes for politics and social awareness and involvement. That’s where we come in. There may not be many of us, relatively speaking, but we aren’t going away. We will always be here, demanding accountability and something better.

    • AdLib says:

      You’re right on “Target”, Escribacat. The point is that too many people will consume what’s most convenient to consume without regard to it’s quality or substance.

      Some people stop by McDonalds frequently to pick up a meal for the family instead of investing time and energy in making a healthier meal, knowing that what they are eating and feeding their family is not necessarily the best thing but it’s fast, easy and available.

      Many people may know that what they’re watching in the MSM is not necessarily good for them or society but they can “drive thru”, quickly pick up the “top stories” and as part of their “Combo Meal”, get a pre-fabricated opinion to adopt. It makes being informed and opinionated easy!

      That’s why the Corporate MSM catch phrase should be the same as McDonald’s, “I’m lovin’ it!”

    • Haruko Haruhara says:

      I always tend to think of the 50s as a deeply uptight, repressed, materialistic, unhappy era. Maybe someone could convince me otherwise.

  9. Haruko Haruhara says:

    So help me, I like Costco. And free cheese.

    They have these cool things in the Canadian plains provinces, called The Co-op, where the employees own the company. Pretty neat.[img][/img]

    • AdLib says:

      Now that is even better! Very cool!!! Just what Choicelady promotes here often! This is the ideal scenario for reversing this economic malaise, employee owned businesses.

  10. texliberal says:

    Love Costco. One of the few retail outlets down here that is unionized. People are friendly and seem to halfway enjoy working there. Quite unique for Texas.

  11. Kalima says:

    As you know I don’t shop at Costco, fuel for my jet is costly. 😉 We have something similar here in Tokyo. Problem is that you have to drive there, and I haven’t been allowed to drive for the last 12 years due to an illness with my middle ear. Long story short, when I get my dizzy attacks, I don’t know my right from my left.

    I never eat anything offered in supermarkets for two reasons. One that I have no idea when the food was put out, I have a sensitive stomach, and two, I’m too busy trying to remember what I came for to feel hungry.

    Years ago I had a friend from New Zealand here, he was a classically trained singer, and work was scarce. He worked as a male model sometimes, but that only payed the rent. When he was desperate, he would check out all the supermarket foreign fairs all over Tokyo, then set off on the trains to eat his fill. I was always amazed to see he survived his frequent hard times, yet relieved to know that he wasn’t exactly starving the few times I didn’t feed him at our house at least twice a week.

    Like Cher, the congestion it causes is a problem for me because not being steady on my feet, I just like to get in and out. The possibility of someone, usually elderly ladies from out of town, mowing their carts into the back of my knees, increases the longer I am forced to be in there. Hubby on the other hand loves shopping, and will try just about anything within reason, even wine on an empty stomach when he’s supposed to be driving us home safely.

    Conclusion, I dislike crowded places, which is amusing when you consider the number of Japanese in any one place at any one time of the day.

    Great analogy post AdLib.

    • Haruko Haruhara says:

      Sometimes I can’t believe I actually lived in San Francisco for two years. How did I do it?

      • Kalima says:

        Everyone must have been on vacation when we visited friends there years ago. I loved the trams, (like Europe) the hills you had to drive up and down, the people, Chinatown and Sausalito.

    • escribacat says:

      Kalima, your mention of the “middle ear” thing caught my eye. I think my brother has that. He has some very strange symptoms and of course no health insurance. He was over at my place yesterday and I’m a bit worried about him. I wonder if you would drop me a line so I could ask you some questions about it. I think you have my email as an admin…?

      • Kalima says:

        Sure I’ll do that e’cat. I have something called Meniere’s syndrome, where liquid from a nearby lymph node has drained into the middle ear. The symptoms are often very severe, causing sudden dizziness which throws you on the floor, accompanied by vomiting. The weaker spells has you suddenly lying down until the room stops spinning. There are treatments available in different strengths, I only take mine if it continues all day. The down side is that you will eventually go deaf in the affected ear. My hearing has been lost by more than 50% in the 12 years I’ve had it, but I can still hear some things. They can make an incision at the back of the ear to drain it, but it usually comes back so I won’t bother with that. I suppose the best way to describe it is if you have ever been too drunk to stand up or walk, it’s very much like that, but without the hangover.

        Sorry AdLib off/topic. I’ve packed my rucksack, you can move me any time. 😳

    • AdLib says:

      Heh! Japan is definitely not the place to go to get away from crowds!

      To be fair, at Costco they have the product packages right there on the sample table so you know what it is that you’re eating and folks gobble up each plate so quickly, it doesn’t have time to go bad.

      I think your friend was very clever, cruising by markets for a “samples” lunch when you don’t have any money makes a lot of sense. No one wants to live that way but when in a pinch…

      Honestly, some older folks are the most mercenary when samples are out. They cut in front of people who are patiently waiting, grab several samples, leave their trash wherever…don’t know why but I see it all the time.

      • Kalima says:

        As you know, I didn’t have much choice in the “which country” department. 😉

        Watching the older people here in different situations is quite educational. Take hospitals for instance. The ladies sit with their legs apart showing off supporters, while the men come out of waiting rooms and loos still pulling up their trousers and fastening their flies.

        Shopping here during sales, is every man, woman and child for themselves. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had something snatched out of my hands only to find a 4ft 5inch tall over 70 year old woman giving me daggers at my side. I gave up going to sales years ago, my insurance would probably not cover being injured by an elderly handbag swinging 75 year old.

        After witnessing someone pulling up their skirt to pull up their knickers in a public place, I remember saying to hubby, “If I should ever get to that stage, do us all a big favour and shoot me”.

        People watching used to be fun, now it’s just survival of the fittest, and these old ladies have me beat by a mile. 🙂

      • texliberal says:

        DEFINE older folks

  12. Very well done AdLib! I love the analogy. It’s absolutely perfect for our 24/7 cable news stations. I decide to watch a little TV earlier today, and every news station I turned to, they were going on and on about “Weinergate” and Sarah Palin’s Paul Revere interpretation.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks KT! I’ve turned off the first half hour of MSNBC shows since it’s all Weinergate.

      The thing is, there really isn’t much new news on it and yet these shows go around and around on it just to titillate their audience with an incident about sex.

      It’s such a childish game and there are too many who let them get away with it by participating.

      I say, when the media becomes obsessed with non-stories, change the channel and let them know you won’t watch.

      • escribacat says:

        Adlib, you’re right. Rachel just finally moved on from the topic after endless comparisons with other scandals. Ugh. How soon will this go away?

      • I’m seriously considering dumping my cable TV service.

        • SallyT says:

          But, Killgore, there is more than just MSM. I love the History Channel, Discovery, oh, and Game of Thrones, and mini series like Mildred Pierce. Did you see that? It was good, well, I thought it was.

          • Sally, that’s why I’m undecided. There are good programs, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I get so tired of shows (I don’t watch them, but see their previews) Swamp Loggers, Ice Road Truckers, Hard Core Pawn, Manswers, 1000 Ways To Die and those disgusting prison shows on MSNBC…..etc.
            Discovery does some really good docs, and The History Channel. But I can get those on Netflix. I like TCM, because I like old movies, but sometimes they get into the old silent films, and I just lose interest in those, with a few exceptions. I can’t decide whether to make the cable-less plunge or not.

            • SallyT says:

              Oh, I forgot about Turner Classic Movies! Am right there with you on the silent ones. I don’t like to read my movies. But, there are so many wonderful old movies. It is a difficult choice for sure. However, more and more is getting on the net. I haven’t got to the point that I have to give up cable because I don’t like it or can’t afford it. I think the latter will come first.

        • Haruko Haruhara says:

          If I can convince you to get satellite TV, we save $50! 😛

  13. bito says:

    There’s an old joke about the man who had a very meager income and 15 children. He was asked how does he feed all of them on his income and his reply was “I make a pot of food of something they don’t like and they get used to eating less.”

    I have no doubt he had a recipe for those “Cardboard Quesadillas” and he served them as a Saturday treat.

    We as a country are being slowly starved to death so we eat any morsel offered and think it a treat.

    Once a person or the public becomes aware that their behavior is being triggered or exploited intentionally by others or they become critical of how they’ve allowed themselves to behave, they can retake the power that’s been robbed from them. [….]

    If folks choose to pass by the sample table when childish flirting “scandals” were being offered and instead gathered around the Climate Change demo table or another table with something of more substance to offer, there would be tastes of more worthwhile things in the following weeks.

    I neither know how this education/awareness can be accomplished or where the “climate change demo table exists. I fear if I set up a simple table of fresh garden vegetable snacks and you set up a fancy table of your “Cardboard Quesadillas” you would have more takers.

    I have been struggling with this question for many years, how does one get others to know what is “good nutrition, what is best for their self interest and not eat ‘junk food” that only nourishes others while they suffer from malnutrition.

    The freshest most nutritious foods foods exist (Remapping Debate, CAP…) but more people are at the junk food table (HP, Daily Caller….).

    • escribacat says:

      Bito, I grew up with four older brothers — all ruffians and lunkheads. (Not the sensitive types.) My mother used to buy ginger snaps because nobody liked them and she knew they’d last more than five seconds.

    • AdLib says:

      I’m with Killgore, once enough people get angry enough, they won’t be satisfied by samples of Vienna Sausages. The problem is that people unfortunately need to get to a point where they are suffering so much that gobbling up all the free pablum that’s offered to them is no longer acceptable.

      We’re not quite there yet, it seems. There is unrest but apathy is a tough gravitational force to escape, only a great amount of pain can fuel folks out of it’s orbit.

      And when that happens, those who already have their tables set up promoting substance will have a lot more “customers” to serve.

      • escribacat says:

        Adlib, I think I’m much more cynical than you are. There will never been an uprising — unless the Vienna Sausages tables disappear. I think I’m a “liberal elitist.”

      • bito says:

        Oh, OK, I guess I should just resign myself until the “uprising”, but wait won’t they just come out with a “new and improved” pablum or or “new bacon-flavored Vienna sausage”? Do we just wait until another “Great Depression” to hit more people or do we educate and meanwhile watch American Idol or You-Tube videos of funny pets all day?
        Resign to it until enough get hurt? That’s the solution? I Know you don’t believe that, but to wait until more people like my grandparents and parents to suffer though another great depression is not a choice between eating cardboard and and nutritious food is a road we want to go down again.

        • The real problem is getting through those great walls of willful ignorance. All too many of them have to personally suffer before they’ll listen. And some, not even then. How do you get around that?

          • bito says:


            How do you get around that?

            You become active, you learn the issues , you become the educator, you knock on doors/phone bank and GOTV! The same way the other side does but with less money so it does takes more work. Look at Wisconsin/ Ohio/Michigan/ USuncut, even without national coverage they remain energized.
            You wouldn’t accept you child to be ignorant, well your local town council, your school board, your state rep. shouldn’t be allowed to be ignorant either. Write letters to the local paper, attend meetings become the educator.

            • Bito, I admire your determination, I really do. And what you suggest are great things to do, but I was referring to those who are willfully ignorant. The ones that don’t want to hear the truth and are all too comfortable in their ignorance. Can they be reached? I think maybe, but before they are willing, there’s not much that can be done. You know the type. The hard core righties that are anti-intellectual, anti-education and anti-anything remotely liberal.

        • SallyT says:

          Bito, I hope there are more people like you that want to shout “Watch out!” before we get to the cliff. Maybe they won’t do anything until it is right in their face. But, you have to put up the warning signs so these people will know what they should watch for and recognize the signs as they approach. And, react. Hopefully, before we go over the cliff.

    • Bito, in regard to your nagging question, I think, unfortuneatly, that the only way these people will begin to learn, is if they get screwed by the people they support. Their personal, daily lives have to be deeply affected before they stop and start to actually rethink their earlier thoughts. Like a majority of alcoholics and addicts, they have to hit rock bottom before they start paying attention to those who wish to help them. And often, it is too late.

  14. Chernynkaya says:

    AdLib--this is wonderful! It made me feel good personally, because I shop at Costco religiously every two weeks and I never eat anything offered--except if I am really thirsty and the sample is something liquid--even the omnipresent Acai berry weirdness. And I get angry at Costco for clogging the aisles with those sample ladies; it creates a clusterfuck of the carts. But I have to say, they know how to keep the accompanying men and children occupied while we ladies are hustling around. My husband will actually want to come to Costco with me JUST to eat! And my son made me laugh by reminding me of how my ex approaches those sample people: he acts surprised each time he sees the freebies. “Oh! Why thank you--don’t mind if I do!” As if he had no intention of ever getting a snack in the first place; as if he never expected to see free samples--which of course is a fiction.

    But back to your premise--just as I eschew the free samples, I have become less interested in any TV news. I only watch Rachel and O’Donnel a couple of times a week, and usually on line. It really has become as tasteless (in every sense of the word) and as malnourishing as a mini paper cup of cut-up tostadas. (And that’s why I said your post makes me feel self-satisfied!)

    But again, I’ll keep flogging this: Just as I am one of those pains-in-the-ass at Costco (I take the time to fill out those customer satisfaction cards when I am displeased)I also think that we have to do the same to the news outlets. I know--I am a pain in the ass, but what else can we do? (And by the way, my only big gripe about Costco is that almost all their paper goods are from Koch.) (Oh, and they are depleting our oceans’ fish--but that’s a different issue.) (Oh, just one more-- their fruit and vegetable packaging is a plastic nightmare.)

    I’ll shut up now!

    • kesmarn says:

      Cher, it’s an amazing coincidence that right after I got home, but before I read your comment, I called a local radio station to complain about their programming.

      It’s a station I rarely listen to, but since I was in the mood to unwind to some kinda hill-billy gospel (an occasional guilty pleasure) I tuned in to this Christian radio station.

      Instead of music they had this guy on ranting about how we are all “already” living under sharia law here. His rambling speech was full of anti-Muslim sentiment with multiple potshots at the President.

      So when I got home, I called and left a voice mail complaining about the program content and asking them to call me back with info on whether or not they were considered tax exempt. I told them that if they were, I was going to file a formal complaint against them with the IRS and the FCC, since they were clearly taking a political position in their programming.

      We’ll see if they ever do get back to me…

      See? I took your advice before I even got it! 😀

    • AdLib says:

      I have no reservation about taking a sample of something I do or may like but just because “it’s free”, I don’t want to consume it.

      I don’t blame Costco for having those sample folks out there, it’s a job for them they might not otherwise have. It’s the way people become when there’s free food to be had.

      It occurs to me that Costco sample servers may have the same perspective of shoppers that strippers do of men, the hungry looks, feeling like an object and the crowd’s concentration on getting just one thing.

      Love the description of your Ex’s “surprise” at being offered a sample, I see people like that and always smile.

      As for Costco itself, it doesn’t appear that their Kirkland brand paper products are from Koch entities, I don’t see the Georgia Pacific info on them. The ocean depleting and plastic packaging of produce are a legit concern.

      However, they are the Anti-Walmart, as described in this 2005 NYT article:

      Costco’s average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam’s Club. And Costco’s health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish.

      Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco’s customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers’ expense. “This is not altruistic,” he said. “This is good business.”

      Besides paying considerably more than competitors, for example, Costco contributes generously to its workers’ 401(k) plans, starting with 3 percent of salary the second year and rising to 9 percent after 25 years.

      ITS insurance plans absorb most dental expenses, and part-time workers are eligible for health insurance after just six months on the job, compared with two years at Wal-Mart. Eighty-five percent of Costco’s workers have health insurance, compared with less than half at Wal-Mart and Target.

      Costco also has not shut out unions, as some of its rivals have. The Teamsters union, for example, represents 14,000 of Costco’s 113,000 employees. “They gave us the best agreement of any retailer in the country,” said Rome Aloise, the union’s chief negotiator with Costco. The contract guarantees employees at least 25 hours of work a week, he said, and requires that at least half of a store’s workers be full time.


      Compared with the minimum wage Walmart pays, there are good reasons for patronizing Costco.

      • escribacat says:

        Sam’s Club is the same thing as Wal-Mart (Sam Walton). You probably already knew that.

        • AdLib says:

          Yep and I’ve taught my daughter that Walmart is not a “good” store and that Mom and Dad don’t shop there.

          The national conversations about Walmart have quieted but they succeeded in destroying the very small businesses we need today to help pull us out of the economic doldrums and their low paying jobs restrain many from helping us spend our way out of this too (Walmart is the biggest employer in America).

          The economy we have today is just what the Waltons had in mind for America, a vicious circle of a society of poorly paid workers who can’t afford to shop anywhere other than Walmart.

          There are a variety of ways to change things but they all seem to include weakening the tight grip on our country that corporations have.

      • escribacat says:

        Adlib, one of my pet peeves is the incredible over-packaging of things — especially at Costco. I’ve had to buy a special tool to get packaging open. Manufacturers are apparently so worried about poisoning/sabotage that they make it impossible for anyone to get something open without a Herculean struggle.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Oh, please don’t get me wrong--I love Costco. As I said, I’m a regular. And I do see your point about employing the sample-servers--I really don’t mind except for the congestion it causes at my two Costcos. But the non-Kirkland products--the paper plates, cups and napkins are all Koch: Vanity Fair and Dixie. Kirkland doesn’t make those. I buy the Kirkland paper towels though--I can’t ween myself off paper towels. (but I’ll confess to sometimes washing them, and then I think I probably waste more resources doing that!)The only other paper towels Costco sells are Brawny--also Koch. I get upset, but I guess Costco wants the best prices. It’s an unfortunate trade-off.

        I think you made a great insight when you compared the servers to strippers-in the sense of how they see the public. That is spot on! But then there are the poor servers who have to hawk the unpopular items and they repeatedly tout whatever it is as I pass. They remind me of the old-timey street vendors: “Who’ll buy my straw—berries!” “Fresh fish!” And my own neighborhood vendor wheeling her cart of fresh corn on the cob. At Costco, I feel kind if sorry for them.

  15. whatsthatsound says:

    Really nice piece, Adlib. Commerce yields consumers, not citizens. We are reduced to mere functioning/malfunctioning/dysfunctional parts of a machine whose sole purpose is to enrich those at the top, and most of us are completely blind to this.

    • AdLib says:

      Cheers, WTS. Agreed, the real damage to our democracy is how corporations have transformed citizens into just consumers. Corporate Crony Capitalism has become our type of government instead of democracy and voting is advertised to people to be treated as consumers would.

      What were we asked to do by Bush right after 9/11, in the face of battling terrorism and protecting our democracy? Go shopping.

      How do most people make up their minds on who to vote for? TV commercials.

      How are candidates and ballot propositions sold to us? In exciting ways like new sodas or in fear-mongering ways like home security systems or buying gold.

      Americans have been conditioned by tv and commercials from birth with a desire to be “sold”, convinced to buy something. The problem is that applying a consumer mentality to a social system such as democracy, undermines it and turns the nation into a corporate enterprise.

      And corporations are not democracies.

  16. Caru says:

    Adlib, you allegory is brilliant, but even better is your hilarious descriptions of the “hunter-gatherer” behaviour in the supermarket. 🙂

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks Caru! It is “a jungle” out there in the Congo…er…The Costco…when free food is being handed out!

      • jkkFL says:

        LOL! Caru- Costco shopping is one of the Great American Sports. I rarely eat the samples, unless it is cheese! (I’m a real rat when it comes to cheese, and have been known to pay ridiculous prices for too much cheese, after tasting.)
        Costco doesn’t sell small anything, so if you buy cheese, it’s often 2# or more!
        I buy coffee and paper goods, because I will never eat 5 lbs. of fish, or 2 four lb. chickens, or 10 lbs of ribs!
        The challenge is to get thru the store without being run over by a luggage sized truck, or an old couple arguing over the price of 10 boxes of raisin bran! 😉

  17. choicelady says:

    Brilliant, AdLib. Absolutely spot on.

    Remember when Marshall McLuhan wrote about our national addiction to media and especially advertising? He noted our reluctance to pass real judgment on what we saw. “All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” And, “A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” As with the cardboard quesadillas, too many will swallow way too much that has neither taste, substance, nor value. It’s just there.

    We have always had pundits from Ben Franklin on, but they engaged with reality, did superb analysis wrapped in cheerfully-wrought presentations, but never took their eyes from the prize -- providing real insights into various issues. Even Will Rogers could say more in a joke than today’s pontificating fools can offer in 30 minutes. Not only have we lost language, we now have a drastically extended partisanship that forces “analysts” to be one-sided. Their corporate handlers make sure little is said that would engender real thought by the readers or the audience.

    I do not have to listen to FOX -- I have CNN and the mainstream networks and print media to dull my mind. I find I will listen to those with whom I do not agree so long as they DO NOT LIE. I like David Brooks even though I often disagree because, for the most part, he does not lie. He is a rarity. However, I am deeply troubled by the cardboard too many people are willing to eat including the Lefties who swallow (undoubtedly recycled) cardboard as readily as the Right does.

    Let me tell you that those of us who are in the policy world who don’t eat the cardboard (a nice image different from the very tired Kool-Aid one -- thanks for a new meme) get NO honor or regard for it. We who try to be coherent and honest get kicked for it. But we have to keep on keepin’ on because if NO ONE speaks the truth -- if no one says the Emperor is purely naked -- then no one will even think about it.

    So in addition to NOT taking the samples from the people in hairnets, I also don’t swallow what I’m told by the MSM. I wish more people were more discerning, but I do what I can by speaking up when the cardboard threatens to be my entire diet.

    Now, I just have ONE question AdLib -- YOUR Costco has five layer dip? Damn. Mine doesn’t. I’ve been ROBBED! Humph.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks for the McLuhan quotes, Choicelady, his observations are more timely now than ever.

      As you describe, the act of reasoning and being discerning creates conflict both because it is a threat to the corporations’ process of handing out what they want consumers to readily consume and also because those consumers who are mindlessly consuming, feel it insults or judges them on readily consuming.

      Thus why a third of the population loves Sarah Palin who validates ignorance as a virtue and something that’s fine to lie about to obscure. Along with that is the spite she whips up against those who are educated and use critical thinking, “The Elite”.

      When having an education and knowing that Paul Revere warned Americans that the British were coming, instead of vice versa, when that makes people “elite” we’re in big trouble.

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