Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lost tribes

According to a new survey, somewhere out there in our
society there’s a ‘lost tribe’ of long-term school truants. The
Education Minister, God bless her, has vowed to put ‘more
manpower’ into searching known hangouts of these truants
—places such as shopping malls. Good luck with that. It may
not be easy to distinguish them from the biggest lost tribe
of all, the ordinary consumers who throng the malls and
megacentres in their thousands, trailing soullessly from
shop to shop, milling around the Muffin Breaks and making
obeisance at the altars of Mastercard and Visa. If ever there
was a lost tribe it’s us—we Westerners trained from birth to
know no higher aim than material consumption, and
condemned to spend even when it makes no sense to do so,
other than serve the grotesque requirements of rampant
capitalism. This was brought home with some force to me
when I read recently that the problem with the Chinese
economy, and by extension the global economy, is that the
Chinese are not spending and consuming enough. That is a
kind of madness; it's like telling people on foot that the best
thing they can do is jump aboard a runaway train.

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