Hoodwnked: A Trinket Economy

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story


 Greetings from the deepest of August days. Here we are at blog #66. I’ve been reading this fascinating book, Hoodwinked. It’s written by John Perkins who is a self-confessed Economic Hit Man. Apparently, that was a real job (could still be one for all we know — it’s shrouded in mystery, the economic hit man business).

Mr Perkins is talking about how and why the financial markets imploded to create the GFC we’ve all been trying to get over (like a bad break-up, just when the pain seems to be nearly over, wham! you’re watching a toilet roll commercial and crying like a baby, all over again).

Trinket Economy. He talks about the “trinket economy” where poor quality crap nobody needs is produced and marketed to us, the sucker consumer. That we buy this unneeded stuff is the exclamation point to that sentence. Trinket economies are doomed to failure. We’ve all participated in the creation of this trinket economy — the trinket makers, the trinker marketers, the trinket salesmen, the trinket buyers, the trinket resellers on eBay. No-one is blameless. And that’s just the introduction to the book. There’s more.

Flattened. Mr Perkins says that our human psychology is particularly sensitive, suggestive and fragile to these marketing messages of the trinketeers. We’re convinced that more, and more, and more, is what we need to make us happy. So we buy more and more of this useless crap and no-one is there to put the brake on either our thinking, or our spending. Until …. a GFC comes along that literally blows us out of our houses with a gale force wind of consumer debt proportions.

It’s an uplifting kind of book.

Unwinking the hood: He says that to get the hood off our wink, here’s what we need to all do, in five easy steps (just add water):

  1. accept consumer responsibility
  2. create a new economy
  3. adopt attitudes that encourage good stewardship and make icons of a new type of hero
  4. implement new rules for business and government
  5. honor our individual passions

So I don’t want to go all heavyosity here on you. It being a Tuesday and everything. But I did read those words and think…. “hmmmm. that’s kind of what My Year Without Clothes Shopping (MYWCS) is all about…”. No, really! And I wasn’t under the influence of any chemical substances at the time (although I may have overdosed on Lemongrass and Ginger tea – knockout combo).

So, how is MYWCS anything like the unhoodwinking strategy that a brain the size of Mr Perkins has come up with? Let’s try this on for size:

  1. accept consumer responsibility. Well, that’s a no brainer. Surely? I’m accepting responsibility for my own spending… and through this challenge, my own thinking about my own spending. But my spending about my thinking about my spending, well that’s another matter. Seriously, that’s a big check! Done! Dots connected on that one. Right?
  2. create a new economy. Well, clearly this is something that I can’t control or even influence if you think of it in terms of the nation’s or the world’s economy. Even if you think of in terms of my suburb’s economy, really. But I am creating a new economy within my own family unit. We’re living simply — “Have fun with frugality. You can!” – and spending less. Well, spending nothing on clothes, as you know. So, depending on how flexible your definition of “economy” is, this one gets a big check! Dots connected! mark, too. Right?
  3. adopt attitudes that encourage good stewardship and make icons out of a new type of hero. Well, two things here — good stewardship and new types of heroes. I love the word “steward”, and not just because I read a lot of Dick Francis in my 20s. If we see ourselves as the stewards of all we think we own, it changes our attitudes. Right? If I’m a good steward of all I think of as mine — my house, my cat, my relationships, my clothes, those 65 shoes left in my wardrobe, my neighbourhood, my country — then the way I take care of those things has got to improve. Yeah? And as for creating new types of heroes, I’m all for that. We’ve made heroes of people who don’t deserve that status, and I’m thinking specifically of celebrities here. It’s utter madness. Madness, I tell you! Ok, enough of that. But clearly, MYWCS strives to encourage good stewardship — of all that I have now in my wardrobe, of my credit rating, and my overall sanity — and to make icons out of a new type of hero. We may not know precisely who those heroes are just yet, but we know who they aren’t. Paris Hilton and her BFFFFFFs for a start. So a big check! Dots connected there. Right?
  4. implement new rules for business and government. Ok, this is where the dots get a bit far apart. MYWCS is not looking to influence the government or even business, for that matter. Although, hmmmm, let me ponder that for 4.2 seconds longer. I wouldn’t mind influencing the retail sector. This one is a bit of a stretch, but in principle, MYWCS lines up very closely with this one.
  5. honour our individual passions. Ah, well this is another no brainer, surely? MYWCS is all about honouring passions. This entire 12 month challenge is about a passion gone unchecked, that’s now being honoured by not indulging it. If that convoluted logic is even possible to follow. I’m honouring my passion for clothes by enjoying and using more fully the ones that I have. I’m honouring my passion for shopping by recognising how much I enjoy it and also acknowledging the dark side of it. There’s no Batman without Heath Ledger. So, I’m saying check! Dots connected! on this one, too. Right?

I Think Therefore … You know, this is the first time I’ve taken the work of a “thinker” like John Perkins and applied it to this challenge. When I first started this challenge, I didn’t think of it as having any kind of lofty purpose. And I’m not saying it now has one.

But I am aware that it’s movement on the path of “better”. Better thinking, better spending, better living. To live well with what you’ve got. Isn’t that a live well lived?

I’ve taken the hood off.  I’m limiting my winking to social gatherings. Thank you Mr Perkins for Hoodwinked. In stores everywhere. Sure opened my eyes. Right?

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