Friday, December 21, 2007

The Law of Positive Negative Utility

Dear George,

America has a problem. Thankfully, it is one that can be easily solved with a little bullshit. We have an economy that is being propped up by the frenzied consumption of useless and unnecessary commodities and services. This consumption constitutes 72 percent of our GDP.

The problem is that our consumption is starting to tank. It seems that when people have trouble meeting their mortgage payments, they wimp out and stop buying all the stuff they don’t need.

(Okay, Big Guy, it is time to put on your running shoes, we are going to take a couple of laps around the barn.)

A solution to this predicament is found in a dogma called the “Law” of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Basically, this dogma states that the utility a person experiences from the consumption of one unit of a given product declines with each additional unit consumed.

For example, consider a glass of water and a thirsty man. If we measure utility on a scale of one to ten, the utility of the first glass of water would be ten, the second glass a seven, and the third glass a three.

The situation we face in out consumptive society is that when someone buys a useless or unnecessary item, the Diminishing Marginal Utility is a zero as soon as it is taken out of its package. The high-end facial moisturizer an individual buys for big bucks has a zero Marginal Utility because everybody knows bear grease works just as well and all it costs you is the bullet with which you kill the bear.

With the moisturizer, we have an example of “subjective” utility as opposed to the “objective” utility of the glass of water quaffed by the thirsty man.

In order to keep our economy propped up, we must look to the Dogma of the Negative Marginal Utility, or consumption in which the subjective utility is high and the objective utility is in the pits. A good example of negative utility is the alcoholic who takes a drink. The drink provides him with a massive subjective utility along with an equally massive negative utility as it continues to eat away at his liver.

We already practice this dogma Negative Marginal Utility in our obsession with economic growth. We pursue growth even though there is a massive negative utility in our trashing of people and the earth.

George, we must sell America on Negative Marginal Utility. We must convince people to buy even though every purchase knocks them down a rung on the economic ladder. To do this, we must reposition misery, and we do this by marketing the concept of Ascetic Consumption in which economic security is painted as a form of selfish indulgence. Indebtedness becomes a badge of honor; dunning letters and nasty collection phone call are symbols of one’s patriotism. Bankruptcy, homelessness and ruin mean one has made the ultimate sacrifice for one’s country.

We are a nation of go-getters who seize the day and go for the gold. Our GDP is bleeding. She is crying out to us, and it is the duty of every red-blooded American citizen to do their part and plunge further into debt so she may be saved by an infusion of consumptive cash.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

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