Consumerism and Guns

Consumerism and Guns 1024x681 Consumerism and Guns

First, let’s get one fact straight; the most dangerous promoter of guns is not the NRA.  Yes; you read that right! The most dangerous promoter of gun violence in society today is not the National Rifle Association or even the gun-makers themselves; it’s Hollywood!  Movies are how guns are marketed and sold to all of us as consumers.  Don’t agree?

Then ask yourself this question; when was the last time you saw an advertisement for a gun in your favorite magazine? Unless you are reading a law enforcement or specialty magazine, the answer should be never!  When was the last time you watched the evening news or your favorite T.V. show and you heard “This show is sponsored by Smith & Wesson, or Glock, or Sturm, Ruger & Co”?   No, that’s the domain of the pharmaceutical industry!

Marketing Through Portrayals of Gun Violence

Ever watch the movie “Natural Born Killers” which glorified mass shootings?  What about “The Dark Knight” which glorified violence and seemed to make a mass murderer like The Joker seem almost cool? By the way; it also just happens to be one of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time, further proving that as Americans, we have become desensitized to this type of violence.  Hell, we might even like it!

No people; when it comes to guns and the marketing of them to consumers, gun makers and the NRA can just concentrate on cowering politicians into voting against common sense legislation that protect its citizenry  while Hollywood handles the advertising – all at no cost to them!  Now if I can only get them to promote my blog for free!

Without a doubt, what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School was not a Hollywood movie and it is something that will never leave our psyche as a nation, as parents, and as educators for as long as we live.  However, we cannot ignore the fact that those events played out as a real life retelling of fictional stories told over and over again… at the movies.

What Were These “Wacko’s” Thinking About?

How many of you have asked yourself this question while pondering the Sandy Hook School Massacre, or the Aurora Colorado massacre, or the massacre at Columbine when they happened?   I mean, what could have been going through these demented killers minds as they plotted out which weapons to buy, or how much ammunition they would need, or what body armor to wear in order to carry out such horrific acts of terror?

How many violent movies had these young men watched where some wacko villain like the Joker from the “Dark Night Rises” planned his revenge and then went out in a blaze of glory?  1, 10, 100′s?

Consumerism Is the Common Thread

There is no one “fix” that could have prevented the tragedy that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary, but without a doubt, the ability to consume automatic weapons such as the one used at Sandy Hook, the Bushmaster AR-15 shown in the picture above with a cartridge that holds 30 rounds, is something we as civilians and consumers should not have access to!

While we’re at it, why should any civilian need to buy body armor for anything other than committing a crime?  These are all items that should only be in the hands of the military and law enforcement; plain and simple! And please spare me the 2nd Amendment non-sense argument!  But, if you do want to use that argument, then I say go buy yourself a musket and some gun powder like our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment into the Bill of Rights!

Civil War Soldier with Musket and Gun Powder 150x150 Consumerism and Guns

Not a Community of Common Sense

The fact is; businesses must produce goods and consumers must buy those goods in a process that creates the economic backbone of this great country of ours and without a doubt, you cannot sell goods without marketing and advertising.  That is how “consumerism” is born each and every day of our consumer lives!

While I could write an encyclopedia of all the places blame might lay for the culture of violence we live in today, I rather just tell you to awaken to the fact that we are not a community of common sense!  We need to break them down and then rebuild common sense back into the fabric of our communities!

As I said in my last blog post titled “Don’t Call it Gun Control: Just Control The Damn Guns”, common sense isn’t so common.  So here is the last question I will pose;

If The Cambridge Dictionary defines “common sense” as the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way; are we left to surmise that we have lost any common sense as a country?

Don’t Call it Gun Control: Just Control The Damn Guns!

Sandy Nook Elementary Don’t Call it Gun Control: Just Control The Damn Guns!

(Picture taken by Julio Cortez / AP)

As you can tell, this post has nothing to do with credit and debt, consumerism, or recovering from financial hell and everything to do with how angry I am at the continued stupidity of our politicians and so-called leaders regarding gun control.

Today, as a nation, we mourn the innocent deaths and killing of 20 small children and six adults in the nation’s second-worst school shooting ever at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.  Today as Americans, we must all ponder how will those parents ever recover from the senseless murders of their and our nation’s greatest treasure, children? How do they move forward during the holidays when every parent’s heart should be filled with warmth at the look of happiness on their children’s faces as they open their presents?

Our Country’s True Epidemic:  A Lack of Leadership

As I watch the news, I just heard the Presidents White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney say, “Today is not the day to discuss gun laws”.  Really; after 20 little bright lights full of spirit have been snuffed out forever?   If not today, then when the hell will it be the day?  What we have here is a true nationwide epidemic; a lack of leadership!

Mayor Bloomberg, the Republican Mayor of New York City and Co-Chair of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns just put out a response that I believe shows both leadership and the political will needed to address the issue of gun control;

“With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen.  It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their ABCs are safe.  We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech – After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek.  And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds.”

Dead Not the Only Victims

So what does anyone tell those children who survived, who just had their lives fast forwarded 20 years, what just happened, because they will most certainly ask!   I just saw a little boy on T.V. who described being told by whoever was herding his class out to shut their eyes as they ran down the hall.  How do you undo that memory?  How do you undo this episode to our nations psyche; to those parents, teachers, community members, law enforcement and first responders who just experienced this in person?  The answer is; you don’t!

What we have to do now is stand up to the ideologues and special interests who want everything to remain status quo.  Stand up against the NRA, against ALEC, against everyone suppressing common sense; against “sound and prudent” judgment!

Common Sense Isn’t So Common

Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.”  The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way”.  So I ask you to apply those definitions to these actions by our cowardice and spineless politicians across this country:

1. The Michigan Senate today rejected an attempt to eliminate a law requiring people who buy handguns from unlicensed sellers to first pass a background check, voting instead to preserve every essential element of a system mayors and police called a successful crime-fighting tool.

Doesn’t pass the “sound and prudent” test nor does their judgment help Michiganders live in a reasonable and safe way, does it?

2.  In order to begin driving, you need a learners permit.  When you become licensed, you can now drive a car.  But in Arizona, you don’t need either to purchase or own a gun

Arizona Gun Laws Don’t Call it Gun Control: Just Control The Damn Guns!

Doesn’t pass the “sound and prudent” test nor does their judgment help Arizonians live in a reasonable and safe way, does it?

3.  In January of 2011 Representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was severely injured in a gun attack, yet in the same year, our greatest “do nothing” Congress in history found it necessary to pass a “pro-gun” bill that would let those with valid state permits to carry a concealed firearm in almost every other state in the country.  Hell yes; now that’s leadership!   That’s our government using “sound and prudent” judgement to help us live in a reasonable and safe way, right?

4.  While Governor Rick Snyder is busy shoving “union busting” reform no one asked for in Michigan (unless you count ALEC or the KOCH Brothers),  their state house passed a bill allowing concealed weapons in schools, day care centers, stadiums, and churches.

If you think this legislation is based on “sound and prudent” judgement that helps Michiganders live in a reasonable and safe way, please leave your comment below.  I want to hear you defend this! 

The Most Armed Country In the World

According to the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, The United States is far and away the most heavily armed country in the world.  The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens.  And according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms.

So how can it be that this country also has one of the highest rates of homicides by guns of any country in the world? In 2005, there were 10,100 gun-related homicides, 75% of which were committed with handguns, and since the murders in Tucson where Congresswoman Gifford was almost murdered, Bloomberg News reported that there was a run on Glocks in Arizona.  Yes, that Glock; the same weapon that killed six people including a Federal judge and a nine-year-old child – no permit or license needed!

Imagine That Was Your Child Shot and Killed Today

(Adrees Latif / Reuters)

Family at shooting 300x165 Don’t Call it Gun Control: Just Control The Damn Guns!


Imagine today, being at work, getting out of the gym, or being home and getting that phone call or that knock at the door with someone telling you there has been an incident and they regret to inform you – your child was killed today!  Imagine coming home and turning on the T.V. and seeing your child’s school being evacuated because there were mass murders?

No America; imagine no more because today every parent’s nightmare was realized and until we push our leaders and politicians to have the will and strength to use common sense when it comes to gun control, this scene will continue to play itself out across this great land of ours.  Instead of hoping and praying it doesn’t happen to you, do something about it!

Get off your apathetic asses, get involved in your child’s school, talk to administrators about safety, and know who can come and go.  Call your politicians and let them know your mad as hell and you’re not going to accept that guns should be an everyday part of your child’s life, the fabric of our country, and that a lot of this tragedy that happened today, can at least be minimized by using “sound and prudent” judgment that will truly help us all live in a reasonable and safe way!

Start the conversation amongst your friends and family by sharing this special commentary with them.  I believe it is an important conversation we all need to have as a country!

How I Define C.R.E.D.I.T.

Loving Life How I Define C.R.E.D.I.T.

Credit is defined as the ability to obtain goods or services before payment is made, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future.  But here is how I define the word credit by each letter of the word:

(C) Is for Consumerism:

The reason I named my blog The Amateur Consumer is because, in fact, we are all amateurs when it comes to consumerism!  By definition, consumerism means the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable.  It also means a preoccupation with, and an inclination toward, the buying of consumer goods.  How exactly is consumerism economically desirable?

In a recent guest post titled “The Psychology of Consumerism”, David M. Carter, a graduate of the master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania wrote “Consumerism can be a devastating psychological addiction that saps our financial resources, well-being, and hope”.  This article is a must read in order to understand the Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation behind consumerism.  Believe me; you’ll be glad you did!

(R) Is for Responsibility:

Responsibility is defined as moral, legal, or mental accountability.  For me, the key word in that definition is accountability.  Mr. Carter goes on to say “If your consumerism is motivated by extrinsic values, as you continually seek financial gain and recognition by others in a seemingly never-ending display of profligate consumption (read; keeping of with the Jones’), you find that you have become addicted. “

He said “You are not even aware that this vicious cycle is happening and continue to ramp-up your acquisitive lifestyle, constantly seeking that which will make you feel fulfilled. It just never seems to happen, and you become depressed and often describe being lost.”  I know exactly what Mr. Carter is talking about because I have lived it.  Be accountable for becoming a better, more informed guardian of your own life!

(E) Is for Education:

Education is the key to avoiding credit and financial mistakes!  And without a doubt, the time to have a map is before you enter the woods, right?  So why are so many people truly amateur consumers?  Why do so many of us lack the basic financial “common sense” it takes to manage our lives so that we may live a happy and more fulfilling one?  Now, when I say common sense, what I mean is having a basic fundamental understanding of what it takes to be truly happy living your life, day in and day out.  Not knowing the difference between simple and compounding interest!

So many people confuse lack of financial literacy for lack of “life literacy”!  Understanding what it takes to live a life “debt-free” and on your own terms is something we should all strive for.  I know through my personal journey of surviving credit and financial hell that the biggest epiphany I have had has not been learning how to accelerate the process of credit recovery (yes, this is a fundamental shift in my blog), rather, it has been learning that income, savings, and frugality are the basic staples of “life literacy” if you want to live life on your terms, free from the chains of consumerism!

(D) Is for Discipline:

Every financial guru, credit and debt expert, or personal finance blogger has espoused the view that besides financial literacy, self- discipline is the key to managing credit and debt.  And while there is certainly truth to that statement, the real way to put the “ED” into C.R.E.D.I.T., is to first develop the mindset it will take to live that happy and fulfilling life and then applying self-discipline to that knowledge!

Self-discipline starts with the ability to change and create new habits and refrain from practicing old ones that in my case, led me and my family down the path toward credit and financial hell.  Again, if you can create the mindset necessary to learn how to become “life-literate”, you will never travel the bi-ways of credit and financial hell like I did!

(I) Is for Independence:

Independent is defined as; free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority.  Let’s look as some synonyms for the word independence; self–sufficiency, self-dependence, self-reliance, self-subsistence, self-support.  WOW!

If you are free from consumerism, debt, and the misuse of credit, and then apply self-discipline to your new “life mindset”, imagine what that life would look like?  I know, I know; it sounds like the cure for all your credit and financial ills; doesn’t it?  I can’t answer that question for you, but for me, this is exactly what it has meant.

Now I don’t want to mislead you; for sure, my $1.6 million dollar bankruptcy was a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. Unfortunately for me however, my epiphany came as a result of what I went through. It is my sincerest hope for anyone reading this blog that you can avoid going off that proverbial “financial cliff” and develop the mindset it will take to find that ‘Zen’ in your life.  To know what is truly important!

(T) Is For Transformation:

Transformation is defined as; an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed.  So the question here becomes; if you can understand consumerism, the psychology behind it, define what is important in life for you and your family, and then apply the self-discipline it will take to live it day in and day out, could you become independent from outside control and transform your current life into a more fulfilling and rewarding one?  As living proof, my answer is unequivocally YES!

What’s your answer? Please let me know below.  If you liked this article, please share it with your friends by clicking “Like”, tweeting it, adding it to your Google+ topics, or sharing it on LinkedIn icon smile How I Define C.R.E.D.I.T.