Welcome to the season of celebrating the United States' true religion: Materialism

First of all, happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Dying of the Corn Festival or whatever it is you celebrate.

Also, a particularly happy time for people gutsy enough not to celebrate anything. It has long been accepted by anthropologists, herpetologists, phlebotomists and other experts that the reason nearly all cultures have some kind of festival this time of year is that, in general, it's terribly depressing. Intervention with lights, gifts and big meals helps some individuals put off suicide for another year.

However, that all is not working so well these days, particularly for those who celebrate Christmas. We can't afford all of the shit our kids want. Many of us can't even afford the mortgage payment. Alas, gone are the days when little kids were happy with an orange and a couple of walnuts stuffed in their stockings--oh, those wonderful smidgeons of vitamin C and digestible protein during this cold, barren season. Make no mistake: Kids would suck on those trifles until they'd worn a hole through the peel. It was the one chance they'd have during the entire year to avert scurvy.

Of course, these days, if kids don't get the newest version of Guitar Hero, they're going to hate you forever. This is not their fault, but our own. The official religion of some countries may be Islam, Hindu, goat-worshipping or whatever, but ours is Materialism, and it may be more dangerous than any religion in the world. People scratch their heads wondering how a load of boneheaded shoppers actually could have trampled a guy to death at Wal-Mart. It's a no-brainer, really--the same principle as pilgrims getting crushed in the rush to Mecca. The only thing those zealous tramplers wanted was to touch the hem of The Messiah's garment. And that day, it was marked down to $8.99.

With the economic clusterfuck currently assaulting us all, and big wheels on Wall Street and crap wheels like General Motors both getting bailed out--and make no mistake, they will get whatever they want the very second we look away for a twat shot of some celebrity--it makes me wonder what kind of economy we'd have if we simply changed our religion and stopped getting so juiced up about "stuff."

Here's what I mean: For the American auto industry to make a profit, X amount of people have to buy a new car every X number of years. Convincing these people that they need a new car is a giant industry in and of itself, and I don't have time to go into that, but if anyone yanked the rug out from under that one, the economy would sink further into the toilet than it already has.

Beneath all the talk of car sales and the numbers of cars that U.S. automakers need to sell to maintain their profit margins and new-product-development programs is the fact that if X is 2, nobody actually needs a new car every two years. A well-made car like a Toyota or a Subaru, if properly maintained, will run well for 10 years.

What if Americans were finally able to embrace this concept--not just with cars, but with everything else? Who really needs a 3,300-square-foot house and a deep fryer, used maybe twice a year for cooking a fucking turkey? What would the U.S. economy look like if we simply let go of the concept that "more is better"?

As far as the notion of automobiles as a representation of personalities (or worse, symbols of sexual prowess), U.S. automakers have been trying to cram that one down our throats for years--and they've had a high degree of success. None of which changes the fact that if you're a man, and you have a penis the size of a cocktail weenie, driving a Hummer isn't going to change a thing.

Of course, I realize that none of this is ever going to happen. Pundits can yap all they want to about economic reality, but the only economic reality I've ever been able to see is that it's all smoke and mirrors, like going into a carnival funhouse and having locked the door behind us. Some people call it the American Dream.

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