America 2012: Oh Say Can You Eat   (August 8, 2012)

A fast-food ad slogan perfectly encapsulates America's devolution.

A new fast-food marketing slogan, "Oh say can you eat," a play on the national anthem's opening line, perfectly captures the pervasive devolution of America's value system. This advert slogan was undoubtedly designed to be amusing or "cute" in playing off the national anthem, but the campaign's real message is that patriotism is now identified with gorging oneself on junk food.

Our national identity has merged with the consumption of junk food and the wholesale gratification of similar addictions that provide little pleasure beyond satiation, all served up by a marketing complex devoted to stimulating wants based on alienation from body, soul and ultimately from reality itself.

We live in an America that has been persuaded to worship convenience and gratification as the primary drivers of life. Gratification of natural hungers (for food, sex, primacy, etc.) have been transformed by marketing into product lines measured by convenience: real food is bothersome and inconvenient, fast food is gloriously convenient.

One step down the reification ladder leads to the implicit message that anything inconvenient is "bad" and should be replaced by something that is tasty and convenient--including civics, jobs, health and of course eating. Getting a job should be convenient, as in "I have a college degree, now give me a good-paying job." Finding a market need and filling it with a good or service that is faster, better and cheaper is terribly inconvenient, and so having a job delivered like a fast food meal (i.e. with a minimum of delay and effort) has become a "right" that the Savior State should fill.

Health should also be convenient, delivered by a pill or quick procedure, also paid by the Savior State, or some other mysterious source of money (the Martian Central Bank would be welcomed should they offer to pay our 18%-of-GDP Medicare bills). Becoming fit is horribly inconvenient, not to mention bothersome, and so fitness should be replaced by a pill. If it isn't, then it should be, for someone's inalienable "right" to convenience has been violated.

Convenient gratification of various addictions and the avoidance of any consequence from the pursuit of those addictive conveniences now characterize our national value system. If anything remains inconvenient, such as understanding the causes of our financial and spiritual rot, then it should be packaged into a convenient, tasty confection for our easy consumption. If there are inconvenient consequences from our indulgence, then the "government should do something" to eliminate those consequences, without raising taxes or imposing some other inconvenience on the populace.

Oh say can you eat. This is marketing perfection, but not in the way it was intended. A nation that worships consumption and convenience is well and truly doomed, regardless of the exertions of its Savior State and its corporate marketing prowess.

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Rather than being powerless, we hold the fundamental building blocks of power. We need neither permission nor political change to liberate ourselves. A powerless individual becomes powerful when he renounces the lies and complicity that enable the doomed Status Quo’s dominance.

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