Sometimes I like to listen to conservative talk radio in the mornings, the combination of bigotry and delusional world views is as good as strong cup of coffee for getting your day going. Of course, ‘talk radio’ is a bit of a misnomer these days- the amount of time any one pundit spends on the air seems to be about a 50/50 split with their advertisers. And, hey, I’m not faulting them for that these pundits aren’t spewing bigotry, cherry picking quotes, and generally being assholes because it amuses them (well, except maybe Michael Savage) but because it pays well. Sure, the market they’re in is pandering to (mostly) white people’s fears about being marginalized and they generally have the same effect on on reasonable discourse that a kick to the temple does, but, hey, it’s a free country. What’s really interesting to me about these talk radio pundits, and their advertises is the bias they show toward the rich, or, as the pundits would put it, the ‘American dream’.
One of the commercials on my local conservative talk radio station this morning was for diamonds. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, you name it- they’ve got it. Pretty standard commercial, with all the trappings of the sexist ‘it’s the only way to make your loved one [woman] care about you’ nonsense. But what really got me was the tagline as the commercial was ending ‘five hundred dollars or five million, everyone deserves a diamond!’ Let’s set aside the absurd notion that everyone deserves, wants, or needs a diamond piece of jewelry for the time being and focus on the fact that this company’s tagline basically reads ‘hey poor people, we’re doing you a favor by making cheap diamonds, come get ’em! Rich people buy these, so you should want them too!’
That’s what so many of these companies do. They say that you– yes you- can afford part of the life of a rich person. ‘Do the rich spend five million dollars on a diamond? Well, sure, you certainly can’t afford that but, hey, we have this nice five hundred dollar diamond and doesn’t it look a lot like that super expensive one? See how easy it is to be like a rich person?’ Of course the diamond sellers are selling a luxury item, and I’m not saying that luxury items should be cheap (though, well, maybe I am but that’s another story all together) but that there’s a definite bias toward the perception of being rich in advertisement that doesn’t spell anything good for the future of the middle class.
It isn’t just the ads targeted at getting people to buy luxury items they can’t really afford- because apparently a marriage isn’t legitimate unless a diamond is involved, right?- but that the end goal of everything you do, say, read, learn, or buy should be for the purpose of being rich. You don’t get a diamond ring to make your partner happy- no- you get it because rich people want do. You don’t go to Harvard for the sake of a great education, you go there to learn to be a rich person. (And incidentally you get a great education.) No, the advertisers tell us, you don’t want to do things that will let you lead a normal and ordinary- but happy!- life, you want to work yourself into an early grave so you might get rich. Don’t advocate for a better wage, just work harder and then you too can be rich and powerful! Also, while you’re at it, buy gold coins. They’re totally a secure investment for the future and in no way massively benefit the rich over the poor.
None of this is to say there’s anything wrong with wanting a diamond ring, there isn’t. But make sure you’re doing the things you do and spending your money where you do for something that is little better than burning it on your stove- the rich give no shits about your tiny diamond ring. Their gates are locked, barred, and fortified and rarely open for anyone at all. Trying to impress them with your willingness to sacrifice yourself on the altar of excess is like trying to impress a trapeze artist by walking on the road-side curb: in a single day they live better than you have your entire life. Stop trying to live for them and start living for you.