America - The Land of Promises

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posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:27 PM
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No, I'm not talking about the promise of freedom or liberty or the promise of a chance at a new life. I happen to believe those things, the things that made America great once, are disappearing before our eyes while we as a society eagerly await the latest episode of "Dancing with the Stars."

I mean promises that made and sold in lieu of actual goods. Here's a few examples:
  • Warranties: Warranties are good things, but has anyone ever noticed how they seem to have become much more prevalent and much more promoted in recent years. Once, a warranty was never expected to be used; today it is seen less as a symbol of quality and more as a promise of not having to buy a new item within a certain time period. I came across this back when I had a business that specialized in home design. One of the more often asked questions was what kind of shingle I suggested for a long-lasting roof. My answer was always the same:

    "The shingles don't really matter. All asphalt shingles are a layer of fiberglass covered with asphalt and tar. The only difference is the color and shape of the gravel patterns they put on the tar for looks. The slope of the roof, the manner in which they are installed, and adequate ventilation under the roof has much much more to do with roof longevity than who made them. The warranties are all prorated because the manufacturers know this, and you pay more for the warranty than you save. I buy second-run shingles from ####### because the defects are covered once installed and are cosmetic, and I get them for a third of the price at the local building suppliers."

    And it's true. I have second-run shingles on all my buildings here, most with a roof slope of 5/12 and all with adequate ventilation; some have been there for 30 years and still are holding just fine.

    Today, we have warranties on everything, especially electronics. Just try to buy something electronic in a store and you will eventually be asked "do you want an extended warranty with that?" I get phone calls all the time wanting me to buy an extended warranty on my car, even though the caller obviously has no idea what kind of car I have. Automobile warranties are touted as much as price in the sales pitch.

    And a warranty is nothing more than a promise: "If it doesn't work, we'll give you a new one. We promise."

  • Retirement accounts, and really all banking, is based on a promise: a promise that your money will be available to you when you want/need it. Interest on retirement and even 401k matching contributions are a promise. Again, this is not to say that retirement saving is a bad thing; it is a good thing to plan for the future. But it's not a "product" as I have heard it referenced as lately. No one assembles materials in order to produce a desired item. Retirement and interest in general is a promise: "Pay us money every month and we'll pay you money when you retire. We promise."

  • Insurance: Insurance is nothing more than a promise to pay you money if something happens. Now, that may not necessarily be a bad thing in some circumstances, but it is no longer a choice today. Regardless of the circumstances, one is forced by law to buy car insurance if one wishes to drive (an absolute necessity in may situations). Driving record is not relevant except for the rates (and sometimes not then)... insurance is required by law.

    Now health insurance is required by law as well, thanks to the AHCA. Just for being alive and living inside our boundaries, one is required by law to buy a promise... and that's all insurance really is. "If this happens, we will pay you money. We promise."

  • Today I was walking out of WalMart after performing a small merchandising job and saw a kiosk with movies for sale. I have been wanting to see "The Hobbit" for a long time, and for one reason or another, that movie has eluded me... either the rental is out, the kiosk is down, the store is out, or something. Anyway, I decided to take a look and see if it was in stock. No such luck, but I did see a box for Disney's new movie "Frozen." I was a little surprised since it is still in theaters, so I took a closer look. The box contained no movie; it contained a card with a code. By purchasing a box without a movie in it, you got a ticket to see the movie and a promise that you would receive the movie in Blu-Ray format when it is released to disk.

    A promise... sold as a product.

    That got me thinking about how many times I hear about "pre-sales" or "pre-orders" for products that are not yet available, but will be sometime in the future. How much of our economy is composed of selling promises? It appears to me a tremendous amount is so devoted. Instead of selling things, physical objects one can carry home from the store, we are selling promises that we will get something in the future.

I remember one time in my youth, sitting around the dinner table, when I told my Dad that I had decided to paint my car he had gotten me. It was a little VW Beetle in that dull blue color that was so prevalent back then, and I wanted a 70s paint job, complete with flames and bright colors. I described how I was going to do it and how it would look, and my Dad replied with "Good! You got the easy part out of the way; you talked about it."

He made a point: I hadn't accomplished anything yet. I hadn't painted a car. All I had done was make myself a promise. If I didn't follow through on that promise and actually paint the car, nothing had changed and nothing was accomplished.

I did paint the car, btw. It took a while to get the flames just right, but I did it. And I found out that Dad was right: telling him about it was a lot easier than doing it.

Our entire economy is moving from the production of goods and the rendering of service to the production of promises. At some point, those promises will be broken; it will simply become impossible to follow through. When that happens, the future of promises, and the industries that depend on them, is ruined, because a promise is only as good as the promisor's word.

In the case of promises made by corporations, however, how good is that word? That all depends on how good the word of those running the corporation is. Who is running the corporation? Those with the money to buy shares; Board of Director members are elected by shareholders based on the number of shares they hold. So when we take the word of a corporation selling a promise, whose word are we taking? We don't even know, but we know it is someone wealthy or someone working for someone wealthy.

Yet, how many of those promises are bought every day?

Just being wealthy does not make one a liar, but it also does not make one honest. Wealth is unrelated to honesty, save for one connection: it is notoriously easy for some to use trust to become wealthy. Witness the Enron scandal, or the HealthSouth scandal... all these people lived in wealth, and most even retained some measure of their wealth after being caught. How many were never caught... how many corporations have manipulated their books to make their promises look better, knowing that there would come a time they couldn't back their promises up? I would suggest many, and at some point in time there will be defaults on warranties, retirements, insurance, and pre-sales. It has to happen, because as a rule people in high places seem to covet money more than morality.

When that happens, what then?

TheRedneck




posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:35 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


There was a line I heard once in a movie recently: from those to whom much is given, much is expected. And "feels good, man" doesn't quite pay the bills.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:38 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


I consider it a function of the decline of "honor" in our society. Honor is no longer valued, nor is a person's word. Politicians lie - it's just accepted as "the way it is these days". Today's products suck - they break all the time. Toys, appliances, cars, whatever... they've all become junk. Where's the pride in a job well done, and a product that will last?

I work in the diesel truck business, and let me tell you, the brand new trucks are pieces of crap. Give me an old truck any day.

The truck dealerships around my shop are awful too - they make lots of promises, and can't deliver. One of the reasons my small, independent truck shop is doing well is because we insist on being straightforward, honorable, and we don't make promises we can't keep.

Back in the old days, a man's word was his reputation, and that actually meant something. Nowadays, many people just assume that everyone is a liar. What we need is a revolution of honor in this country, of only doing a job if it's quality, only saying what's true, not relying on promises and cop-outs to get away with another scam.

We need to revolutionize manufacturing by going back to making quality products that last. No promise necessary - the reputation would speak for itself in time.

If we can bring back honor into society, many of the ills will be cured, and we can start feeling pride in what we're doing again.
edit on 12/30/2013 by TwoTonTommy because: grammar



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:40 PM
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When I purchase a product and I'm asked to buy the warranty, I ask, "Why, is this product going to go bad within the next year?" "If so, then you can have it back."
No thanks, lol. It is just another way of them making money I suppose, but it certainly annoys me every single time. Especially knowing that products are now considered disposable. I bought an expensive window ac a few years back and there was an issue, so I called my local HVAC guy and he kindly told me he never works on them because they are considered "disposable" and my best bet was to go purchase a new one. That's the kind of world we live in.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:41 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity

The movie took it from the Bible - Luke 12:48 to be precise.

It's true, wherever it's read or heard.

TheRedneck



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:47 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


Hey.. .How about the promise of a government, of... for.... and by the people? Oh wait... nevermind.. that was all a lie.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 02:52 PM
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TheRedneck
reply to post by AfterInfinity

The movie took it from the Bible - Luke 12:48 to be precise.

It's true, wherever it's read or heard.

TheRedneck


I know. I like the movie that stole it better though.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:01 PM
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reply to post by TwoTonTommy

We need to revolutionize manufacturing by going back to making quality products that last. No promise necessary - the reputation would speak for itself in time.

I know my son, who is a machinist, recently ordered a set of digital calipers. The promise was that these calipers were water-proof to a depth of so many meters, dust-proof, shock-proof, accurate to an amazing degree (0.01 thousnadth of an inch?)... and the kicker for him was that they were made in the USA. He spent a small fortune on that set of calipers.

A friend of his ordered the same set, for the same reasons, a few days earlier. When his came in, there was a crack running along the case and through the bezel. Ironically, it was next to the signed QC sticker. He sent it back for a replacement.

My son's came in with a similar crack. He returned his as well for a replacement.

After two months, his friend got his replacement. It was also cracked. He then demanded his money back. The company refused, agreeing instead to give him a cheaper set of dial calipers. They won.

My son had a little better luck, although his second set was also cracked. He got a gift card for the amount he spent, I assume because he's almost as stubborn as his Dad.


He now uses a set of foreign-made digital calipers.

I took my mother's Buick in for service a few days ago and thought I would look around at the new Chevrolet models (Chevrolet dealer, but the service department does all GM). They had nothing that looked impressive to me. The trucks are full of cheap-looking plastic, as are the SUVs, and the only car that looked like I could fit into it was the Impala... which was not a good looking car IMO. Of course, the salesman was busy trying to convince me how good that little crackerbox on wheels called the "Spark" looked.

We have no jobs here for two reasons: we aren't willing to do what it takes to make a quality product, and we want too much money to not do what we should be doing. Now all the manufacturing jobs are gone overseas, we are living in a service-based economy with too little care for quality in what we do, and spiraling downhill. All the while, those with money are busy redefining what a "product" or a "promise" is.

And of course, we all fall for it.

TheRedneck



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:06 PM
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TheRedneck
reply to post by TwoTonTommy

We need to revolutionize manufacturing by going back to making quality products that last. No promise necessary - the reputation would speak for itself in time.



We have no jobs here for two reasons: we aren't willing to do what it takes to make a quality product, and we want too much money to not do what we should be doing. Now all the manufacturing jobs are gone overseas, we are living in a service-based economy with too little care for quality in what we do, and spiraling downhill. All the while, those with money are busy redefining what a "product" or a "promise" is.

And of course, we all fall for it.

TheRedneck


The other thing about manufacturing quality, it costs money. The cost of cheap goods and cheap food has hidden the real inflation costs from us. When I go buy organic food, it isn't special - it's just normal food like we used to grow. But much more expensive. The cheap stuff hides the true cost of inflation. If we had to pay a reasonable price for quality goods, many people would fall over from the sticker-shock.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:11 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


And we're still a better country than 80% of the world. It's worth remembering all the things we can do that literally billions of others can't. As valid as your points are, we have a lot to be grateful for. The fact that you were able to have a somewhat peaceful Christmas with your family is more than millions of people around the world were able to say this past week.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:14 PM
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reply to post by TwoTonTommy

Another great point. The inflation rate we are fed to show how things aren't so bad isn't really accurate for most people. The indexes used cover typically brand-name and quality goods, while many (like me) have to subsist on lower-cost lesser-quality goods. The cost of those lesser-quality goods is increasing faster than the cost of the higher-quality goods because people can't afford the good stuff, but that isn't reflected in the inflation index.

And if the cost doesn't go up, the size goes down.

TheRedneck



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:15 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


Lifetime Warranty.. until the company goes under.. lol

the amount of desperation and lies in the economy today.. The rich Elites are pathetic and stupid. They forget that once all the chips on the table are in their pocket, and they closed down the factory that made chips, well now what? They need to intake more than yesterday, EVERYDAY.. "growth"..

Now, we are fed empty promises everywhere..

the warranty for those cars cost as much as the repair, if it comes to ever needing it.


I remember this "promise" on a Red Baron frozen pizza. buy 4 and get a movie ticket. So, my wife bought 16 of them so Us and our 2 girls could all go to the theater.

We spent the time eating the flavored cardboard things, cut out the UPC's, sent them in. And waited 3 weeks for the tickets. Which we had to printout an Email voucher. Then we took it to a theater on the list, only to be told "we don't accept those".. all of it wasn;t worth the "promise"



Promised the world and not even given a rock.. that is the reality for Americans.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:20 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity

Oh, I have no argument over that; I have no intention to "bash America" as a country. My point is that we have degraded to such a point that we are taking promises as something substantial, and that in itself is a major problem that is eventually going to catch up to us.

The thing is that the charities are also hurting... the same charities that exist to help others in worse condition than we are. Without the ability to help ourselves, we can't effectively help others. The whole "we're still better than so-and-so" argument doesn't hold a lot of water for me, because I believe everyone should be improving to a higher level, not degrading to the lowest common denominator.

A prosperous America can help others prosper; a defunct America can help no one.

TheRedneck



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:30 PM
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TheRedneck
reply to post by AfterInfinity

Oh, I have no argument over that; I have no intention to "bash America" as a country. My point is that we have degraded to such a point that we are taking promises as something substantial, and that in itself is a major problem that is eventually going to catch up to us.

The thing is that the charities are also hurting... the same charities that exist to help others in worse condition than we are. Without the ability to help ourselves, we can't effectively help others. The whole "we're still better than so-and-so" argument doesn't hold a lot of water for me, because I believe everyone should be improving to a higher level, not degrading to the lowest common denominator.

A prosperous America can help others prosper; a defunct America can help no one.

TheRedneck


A self-sufficient American doesn't have to worry about helping others. And quite frankly, a self-sufficient America sounds like an excellent course in the art of housekeeping. Learn to mind your own before you decide to bury your boot up the backside of the Middle East. Strikes me as a book we could do with taking a few leaves from.
edit on 30-12-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:36 PM
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AfterInfinity
reply to post by TheRedneck
 


And we're still a better country than 80% of the world. It's worth remembering all the things we can do that literally billions of others can't. As valid as your points are, we have a lot to be grateful for. The fact that you were able to have a somewhat peaceful Christmas with your family is more than millions of people around the world were able to say this past week.


...and this is exactly why there is a growing contingency of the global power brokers who have been trying to destroy the traditional perception of American Exceptionalism that most of us used to hold so dear. Decades ago Americans expected the best because we knew we were the best... in order to get Americans to accept second rate garbage, you had to get them to drop their position of exceptionalism and start comparing themselves with the rest of the world on a straight comparison basis.

I'll say the same thing I tell my little boy when he brings home a blah grade and plays the "But Aiden only got a D" nonsense. I don't *care* what the rest of the world has or makes do with, I care about what my people have.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:39 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity

Methinks your angst is somewhat misplaced.

Please check my posting history and you will find many references to our unconscionable actions concerning OPEC nations. Here is a good place to start: my last thread. The fact that the US government chose to interfere maliciously with the development of the Middle Easter nations, however, does not negate the numerous individual efforts to feed the hungry, clothe and house the poor, and develop communities in other areas.

I find it somewhat ingenuous to first complain about how others are worse off than we are, then to rebut with the assertion that we shouldn't bother helping those in need. I must say, that is an interesting dichotomy. Myself, I prefer to help those in need rather than turning a blind eye after using them to make a point.

But, to each their own.

TheRedneck



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:48 PM
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reply to post by TwoTonTommy
 


What of honor when you're starving, I'd crush just about anybody I could at this point to just make enough not to struggle another day of my life... what good is honor if you're starving, I SAY POOP! On Honor and Respect, the only way to get ahead is to propel yourself there regardless of the collateral damage along the way. DOG EAT DOG MAN.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:50 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


Excellent thread and OP. I once gave in and bought an extended warrant on a Lazy Boy recliner. When a spring popped through the fabric I went to the store with the warranty where they informed me that I would have to pay to send it back to the manufacturer which was across the border. I was shocked, because I know that a few years before one could return defective merchandise and receive an exchange. Our stores have been following the example of the greedy big name conglomerates that have lost their integrity and pride in favour of quick sales and profit. The only way I can see to defend myself against this is to expose their dishonest practices. I shop Mom 'n Pop whenever I can.
edit on 30-12-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 03:54 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 



I find it somewhat ingenuous to first complain about how others are worse off than we are, then to rebut with the assertion that we shouldn't bother helping those in need. I must say, that is an interesting dichotomy. Myself, I prefer to help those in need rather than turning a blind eye after using them to make a point.


That's because you misunderstood, on multiple points. One, I wasn't complaining on their behalf. Life isn't fair, and someone will always be sick, poor, wounded, or otherwise getting the shaft while someone else enjoys wine and caviar. It has always been that way, and we won't change it. Yes, I'm a complete asshole here and I know it, but that's the reality of the situation. Limbs get sick and have to be prunes for the health and safety of the rest of the tree. Same with getting gangrene. Which leads me to my second point -

Second, my point was that we should attend to our own household before attending to someone else's. I admire the noble sentiments of sacrificing our surplus for their survival, but can we afford it? After all the problems and complications you listed, you believe we have the resources to spare to both fix our problems and those of other nations at the same time? Because I see their problems reflected within our country as well. We're okay, but we're not perfect. And I worry that we can't save both.

Perhaps we disagree. I'm okay with that. Politics have always been dangerous territory for me anyway. I have unpopular opinions and I'm okay with that too. It's other people who have the problem.
edit on 30-12-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 04:01 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 


Great read,

It might even be said that money is promises. Maybe building everything on that foundation, devaluing the human to debtor and creditor, is where this mentality arises from.





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