Monday, February 20, 2012

Part of the machine

Winter Trees, photo by Duncan Jones.
Its not easy being part of the machine with no means to opt out; inextricably stuck and trapped in the gunged up system, seeking a route to claw back to the surface, some white light and clean air perhaps. I am of course pondering the unthinkable consequences of a mass supermarket boycott. Following from the Tesco PR gaffe over work experience for benefit credits (which may or may not have been accurately portrayed), can I, can we live without the comfort factor of a regular supermarket fix? Lets face it, Tesco is annoying in its blandness and ubiquity, its cloying every little helps campaign of brainwashing and its manipulation of our appetites and aspirations. I want a world where supermarkets exist but dont really matter, where they dont dominate and suck the life out of town after town, where there is some semblance of commercial coexistence and less of a blur between suburbia and nowhere, that funny place where most Tescos are located. But its a dream that comes wrapped up in an uneasy sleep though, go elsewhere, pay more, get less, and is that really the true consequence of abandoning the big boys? Has the propaganda made us all so dependant and afraid that any extra cost or inconvenience is just too hard to bear? Or is nothing in the game really worth the cards anymore? Certainly the fact that loss leaders and special offers are only possible because the grunts and stackers just get minimum wage (or qualify for benefits) isnt good news and are we so naive about capitalism that we thought it could be put together some other way? If its too good to be true then its not true and its making me pretty uncomfortable. I may return to Fife (home of the Amazon low pay long day model) and onto the Fife diet for inspiration.

Meanwhile Iran sneezes out a slippery isotope, a few sanctions are launched, and the fiddly, jittery oil market reacts by bumping up oil prices to $120 a barrel. Thats a good piece of international diplomacy and cooperation, the value of which of course I dont believe in. Somewhere in New York, Singapore or London the balding, stressed out diesel brokers sleeves are rolling up and their eyes are watering and rolling in their heads at the nice little margins that are suddenly possible here and here and there. We all pay more instantly, as if Shell and BP petrol pump price gauges were linked by long stretched out Heath Robinson elastic and pulleys to the taps and valves in Iran. All of which are still turned on but running temporarily down another pipe and in a different direction but ultimately into the same grubby pool of dirty oil and money. And by means of a valued customer survey feedback piece Id like to say that buying petrol and shopping in those overpriced calories infused aisles that lead to the gapping wide tills is not a pleasant nor economically sensible experience. Of course for the simple customer and end user its all explained away by the old chestnut of supply and demand  the trouble is there isnt a problem, theres only full scale world-wide manipulation by those terrible lizard peoplebut it is still a penny a litre cheaper in Tescos (and you get Clubcard points).

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