Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Open Letter to The Young Modern Woman

Dear Young Modern Woman,

I feel I must write you as we both fast approach the magical age of 30.

The sausage-fest years are drawing to a close, and you must now be thinking about 'settling down' - perhaps by marrying, and perhaps by having children, albeit with the right man of course.

You will now profess piety whilst decrying promiscuity, despite the latter being your former order of the day.

Far be it from me to consider myself the 'right man', given that this is an impossible ideal to meet.

Perhaps you already have children and the remnants of baggage leftover from previously failed relationships - the 'right man' must of course be willing to accept this, with no questions asked.

I find myself in the position of having minimal baggage, and relatively far fewer miles on the clock - why should I suddenly 'settle' for your high mileage and gaggle of children, whilst at the same time meeting the stringent criterion of your 'being a man' profile?

How perplexing, and how laced with tedium the prospect is of matching your requirements - which I utterly have no intention of trying to satisfy for the sake of possibly being bedded.

And the modern marketing of feminism has told you that you can have it all; a different man to roger every Friday or Saturday night fostered by copious amounts of alcohol, a stressful demanding career in the city that overtakes all other priorities, an abortion at-will if one of your lovers ever slipped one past the goalie, and guaranteed ownership of children that perhaps resulted from a failed de facto relationship.

Yes, you can have it all, and all of the complexities that come along with it - it's none of my business, until of course the time comes that you seek men such as myself out, imperfect as we are ourselves, to somehow magically sort out your mess and set it all right.

While you were courting a collective army of men either at the pub or via Facebook, I was probably at home, alone, quietly watching Doctor Who or studying for my degree, completely ignoring the world you were inhabiting - the big flashy city with cocks aplenty.

I have my charms; I have my appeals; I have my wits, of all that I have been made aware of by the few good women that I have taken the time to get to know, and in turn, I had gotten to know their qualities.

Yet, I don't give it away for free - perhaps I didn't get the memo from the sexual revolution, and so perhaps I didn't become 'liberal' enough to share bodily fluids with random strangers - my apologies to modern society.

Now you find yourself feeling unfulfilled and used, and perhaps now you're wondering "why?" - and all of a sudden you are actually required to make a connection with a man, to value a man, and to respect a man - all of which modern feminism has vehemently discouraged you from doing.

Just as men treat women as objects, so too should women treat men as objects, for the sake of 'equality' according to feminsm - however, just as not all men treat women as objects, nor should women do the same for the sake of faux feminist empowerment.

Of course women should be empowered - but the routes that militant feminism has promised you are being showed to be a farce - now more than ever, you will find young women confused and clambering for explanations for their feelings of emptiness, of something missing, even though they supposedly have it all.

You will also find young girls becoming increasingly sexualised; puberty begins earlier, either biologically or psychologically, thanks to the mass meda; and in truth, true feminism, true womanhood, has been hijacked.

I have been grossly unimpressed by my relatively limited dealings with you, Young Modern Woman, and if you have been offended by this letter, so bet it.

I will most likely make it my business to continually avoid your crass path the best I can.


Imperfect Male

Monday, April 22, 2013

Australia's Economic Sugar High

All bets are now off.

With Labor's last Federal Budget up and coming in a few weeks, we're now hearing trickles on the grapevine that revenues have collapsed even more so than originally anticipated.

Take for instance the carbon tax.

Labor decided to link Australian carbon credits to that of Europe's - it was expected that credits would be trading at at least $9, and preferably higher.

They're currently trading at $3.

This has resulted in a $7.5 billion black hole in our Budget.

Obviously the ponzi scheme hasn't lived up to its expectations - and it may well be early days in our carbon trading foray, but for the time being, the cold is blowing in.

Furthermore, Treasury projections have been grossly off the mark on this one, and how they could mess up the prediction of the market in Europe, where economic austerity is all the rave right now, is beyond my comprehension.

Why even link any of our economic prosperity to the basket case that is Europe in the first place?!

For something that was supposed to be about lowering pollution emissions, it has quickly become evident that the carbon tax, or carbon pricing, was really a ham-fisted attempt at tax and economic reform.

All in all, the Budget is expected to run at a $20 - $25 billion deficit, which is far off the teeny tiny $1.5 billion or so worth of surplus promised by Treasurer Wayne Swan last year.

"The fundamentals are strong," Mr Swan would often chime in, and continually bragged that they would be bringing back a surplus.

Surpluses are of course a treasurer's proverbial wet dream. It's a way of displaying economic prowess, and gives the government bragging rights over the Opposition, who are obsessed with surpluses.

Unemployment too has been rising, and now sits at 5.6% - considering how the government reaches its figures on unemployment, with working one hour a week being considered 'employed', the real figure is much higher - probably closer to 8 or 9%, but even that is speculative.

Yours truly has been on the dole cue for so long now, that recently Centrelink have plumb given up even taking my reporting form - I no longer even have to apply for jobs, and am probably counted as being 'employed' because I did some volunteer work earlier in the year.

On my last vist there, the woman was completely uninterested and didn't even bother to ask to see my jobs form, which I thought was a strict requirement - I had to foist it upon her, lest I later be accused of not 'looking for work'.

I didn't receive a new form - I can only surmise I am now 'employed' and am no longer contributing to the unemployment statistics - glory be!

In the early half of the Rudd government in 2008, the full effects of the Global Financial Crisis were in full effect - as such, the government enacted economic stimulus packages, to the tune of about $30 billion, and effectively pumping all of the surplus from the previous Howard government into the economy.

At the time, this was a good idea - it maintained and even boost employment levels in Australia, given that people had more money in their pockets for discretionary spending to the tune of a $900 or $1000 payment, pink batts were raining down, and school halls were being built everywhere.

It helped Australia avoid recession and kept us in good economic shape compared to just about every other western country on the planet.

Of course, it has only delayed the inevitable, and while it was economically prudent, Keynesian economics and 'pump priming' can only go so far.

The businesses and areas of the economy that should have failed under the normal circumstances of capitalism were propped up - the correction, the recession itself we were trying to avoid, never happened.

The economic sugar high is now wearing thin; our Australian dollar is staying high due to our relatively 'high' interest rate (compared to other nations) of 3%, and this is forcing businesses such as Holden to lay off swathes of workers as they find it difficult to compete in the global market with our inflated dollar.

Holden as one example has received a total of $2 billion in grants and subsidies from the government, yet still fail to compete against smaller and more efficient imported vehicles.

This has had the knock-on effect of the government bleeding tax revenue, as business is not as profitable as expected - for too long now Labor have tried to gloss this over, by continually stating the aforementioned line of the fundamentals being strong.

Oh, but all of a sudden, we now face 'unusual' economic times. Unusual? How bizarre.

The economy now teeters on the premise that the mining sector will remain strong - any contraction in the Asian market, namely China, will result in even further revenue write-downs.

A conundrum, especially given the fact that the mining tax, which is really just a watered down, lip service tax in comparison to its original Rudd government incarnation, has fallen grossly short of projects.

The upcoming Budget in May will most likely be a 'caretaker' government-type of Budget, as Labor already knows they have little chance of being elected come September; there will be little chance to extract any political capital from it now, given that it will have to be a particularly tough Budget.

Of course, we can look forward to the kitchen sink being tossed out once the Liberals hand down their first Budget of the decade next year.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Gullibility of The Middle Classes

The middle classes.

Call them lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class, they're all mostly the same thing.

There may be little variation such as wage and education level, personal tastes, or location, but they overwhelmingly all follow the same set formulae.

Without them, our current economic model couldn't function. They're needed to pay taxes, to service the mortgage industry, to be exploited by the upper classes for their labour, and help feed the masses of the hungry underclasses below them - lest they take to their castles with pitchforks and torches.

Many western nations like to think of themselves as 'classless' - however, since they were mostly populated by the highly classist Britain, classism is ingrained into their DNA, and it will never be lifted.

At this point, I must be sounding like a raving Marxist, which is to the contrary; India for instance has the caste system, and even the Reds had a system of the very poor and the very rich, which went against the very idea of communism, hence its failure.

I merely have outside view looking in.

The main premise of the middle classes is that one can always 'get ahead', and every action in life is therefore aimed at this 'getting ahead'.

It could be called ambition, and actions such as higher education are supposed to set the ball rolling of the so-called 'aspirational' middle class and further their 'getting ahead'.

Getting ahead however doesn't always work, it has its pitfalls, and is by-and-large a grand marketing scheme devised by the upper creams of society.

For instance, you might think you can 'get ahead' by buying your own home with a spouse; a place to raise the children, and a sense of financial security once it is all paid off in 10 or 20 years.

Of course, you throw yourself to the mercy of the market - the house might lose value, interest rates might go up and down, but by and large this isn't so much of a problem.

But, say for instance, you want a 'better' house? So begins a merry-go-round of buying and selling, buying and selling, in the hope of 'getting ahead' in the market and having one up on the Jones'.

This is more prevalent than you might think, and it is something that is done in the 'mortgage belts' of Australia, such as the western suburbs of majour cities, and country and regional towns.

Also, you might end up getting a divorce, with the wife keeping the house, or having it sold off, and watching your labour-dollars go up in smoke.

It's what drives the market for many things - that 'getting ahead'.

When of course, all one needs is a secure roof, a place to prepare meals, and perhaps a garage; but this is never sufficient for the middle classes, who perhaps need four car spaces and a kitchen the size of a warehouse.

The 'McMansion' is the ultimate aim.

And for most of the time, it's temporary anyway, as they effectively 'rent' this dream from the bank in the form of a mortgage with tacked-on interest.

But that's enough of housing.

Indoctrination begins early in the middle classes.

The children are dropped off to childcare while mummy and daddy both work in an upstanding, righteous fashion to service the aforementioned mortgage.

And if the kiddies grow up big and strong, they too can become soulless wage slaves themselves.

This formulae is now what everyone is programmed for; to work, consume and die.

But perhaps that's an oversimplification, and one tainted with cynicism.

If the middle classes weren't so sickeningly docile, passive, and downright gullible, the whole premise of western politics and economics would collapse with dire consequences.

Politicians wouldn't be able to lie to them anymore.

This is the reason that the vast majourity of politicking is aimed directly at the middle class.

In Australia it comes in the form of the Baby Bonus, the First Home Owners Grant, and the Schoolkids Bonus.

Obviously, the government wants you to do two things - breed and pay a mortgage - and people buy the message in droves, when really they are pawns of cattle being shuffled around the socioeconomic system.

White picket fences and manicured lawns are all one is put on this earth to strive for, and heaven help you if dare question it otherwise.

Marriage is another pinnacle of the middle classes.

Once their child spawn have left childcare, drifted through more indoctrination at school, and perhaps completed their fuck-fest at university while perhaps dodging an STD scare or three, it's time to 'settle down'; get married, have a couple of kids, and wait for their inevitable deaths while starring blankly at the TV screen that shovels more propaganda down their throats.

Like force-fed geese being fattened up for foie gras, they're lulled into rhythmic routine and led to slaughter.

Given the frightening obesity rates in the west that continue to climb, it's not too far from the truth.

What's the alternative?

Well it sure does beat living in Africa, or somewhere else in the third world, whom may have little more than a tent to live in, let alone the warehouse-sized kitchen and four car spaces; a dog in a western country probably receives better nutrition and healthcare.

Our system however is built on the premise of economic growth, and can only survive if there is continual growth.

If growth falls or slows, jobs are lost, prices rise, and suddenly the creature comforts evaporate along with the jobs that provided them in the first place.

So it's not sustainable in any sense - just the toll on the planet of the natural resources required to meet Joe and Joanne citizen squeezing out more and more babies to collect the Baby Bonus is sign enough that this is not a system geared towards the longterm.

What's more, the middle classes don't know who their real enemy is.

They're told it's Joe Six Pack dole bludger, or a wayward asylum seeker who is eating their precious tax dollars; which is partially the case, but in that instance they fail to notice that they themselves may one day be unemployed or incapacitated, and in which instance, living in a welfare state would be fortuitous.

They fail to realise it's the people at the very very top who they indirectly work for, such as bank CEOs that earn their equivalent yearly income in a day or so, that they are completely oblivious to.

But not to worry - work even harder, and you too might one day be just like them.

The narrative is that it's the people 'below' them that are the enemy, and are required to be chastised, put down, and shunned, rather than the people that truly do own them for life and hold the proverbial dagger over their heads while promising economic paradise.

How many times have you heard a middle class person claim that they are independent and self-sustaining?

Nothing could be further from the truth - they are intertwined within a system.

They're dependent on their employers to give them the job they work; they're dependent on the bank to loan them money for their house; they're dependent on poorly paid Chinese labourers for their toys and gadgets; they're dependent on farmers to grow their food for them.

So no, they are not independent - they are simply being rewarded for unwavering obedience, and they could fall down with the rest of the swine at any point in life.

It is the good life after all though, right?

Ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ignorance Still Takes To The Streets

One of the perks of living in a western democratic society is that (mostly) all ideas are allowed airtime and are open for debate.

This Saturday just passed I was hitting the pavement in search of a SIM card for my mobile broadband modem.

I rarely use it except for when needed, so it had since expired.

I didn't find the SIM; Vodafone just keep finding new ways to frustrate their customers.

What I did find though was a street preacher.

Living in a NSW regional town, they aren't so difficult to come by, and most of us try to avoid them; just like we try to avoid pay TV salesmen, or guilt-tripping charity workers looking for donations.

I had already sized up the situation and planned my route to pass this fellow with minimal fuss.

Somehow though, he ended up shoving a pamphlet in my face.

I begrudgingly had a look at what it was - it was a pamphlet decrying evolution science as a scam to brainwash the minds of our impresionable youth and dooming us all to eternal hellfire and such.

This stopped me in my tracks, and I began to challenge the young man in debate.

I'm 28; he would have been no older than myself, and new to the 'job' of preaching the word of the local Baptist church.

The novelty of having a wannabe-preacher state that he believes the earth is 6,000 years old was too much for me to resist, especially given that I'm bit of a geek when it comes to science-y stuff.

Not only could I resist debating his standpoint, I was flabbergasted that a seemingly clean-cut person could possibly believe something in the face of overwhelming evidence for evolution and the true age of earth, which is the order of 4.5 billion years old.

Of course, we all know this type of debate has been done to death, especially in the United States, where radical literal interpretation of the Bible is at times a persuading debate against logic and reason.

I should probably state at this point that I'm not a hardcore Atheist. I have had periods of adhering to Atheism, but it instead morphed into being an agnostic.

After taking up macro and nature photography last year to help with depression, I did gain a new appreciation for what we are all surrounded by; even the night sky presents an overwhelming venue to contemplate one's own mortality and place in this little backwater patch of humanity.

And for me at least, appreciation for life comes from simply observing it, and finding 'salvation' could never arise for myself from the pages of a holy book, but instead from the sheer immensity and mystery of life.

Whether that involves a 'creator' is somewhat irrelevant - there may or may not be a 'God', and there may or may not be 'life after death' - but it is none of our concern, and it is definitely nothing to threaten people with hell over.

Back to our street preacher.

After we had discussed evolution, even so far as to try and explain something as complex as the Big Bang and the formation of the moon (since apparently gravity wasn't 'real'), Barack Obama somehow came up.

At this point, I knew that this conversation was a loss-loss situation, because apparently under 'Obamacare', everyone needs to have a microchip implanted in their hand to have access to it.

Obviously, this 'chip' would be the 'Mark of The Beast' - this would have made a very compelling argument for our preacher friend, despite the fact that the 'Obamacare chip' is a hoax.

I didn't even make a rebuttal, as it would have been pointless to tell someone who believes the planet is 6,000 years old that he believes yet another hoax and lie, and is perhaps being misled by his religious father.

He even went on to say how pious it was for Obama to call it 'Obamacare' - I had to explain to him that in fact no, it was the conservative political apparatus in the United States that uses the term to deride universal health care.

I also informed him that 'Obamacare' is only to bring America up to a healthcare standard on par with the rest of the world, including Australia where we already enjoy universal healthcare - and healthcare that he has probably received himself.

I ended that part of the conversation by saying that if Jesus came down from heaven tomorrow, he'd order that we heal the sick and the poor, and with 40 million Americans on foodstamps, that it was desperately needed.

He had no response, instead saying that I was "chasing a rabbit down a hole," - well, it was a very shallow hole and a very fat rabbit - easy pickins.

I'm not even sure as to why I tried to 'reverse-preach' logic and reason into this guy.

I don't think he was expecting an hour-long debate of his heavily misguided views, and I definitely wasn't expecting to come across such a public display of sheer ignorance on a sunny Saturday.

So, if you yourself comes across one of these so-called 'preachers', arm yourself with the facts and engage them in debate - challenge them, but be polite and always hold up a level of decorum.

As Yevgeny Yevtushenko said:

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anything You Can Broadband I Can Broadband Better

After a lengthy wait, the Coalition's broadband policy for Australia was finally released with great fanfare.

Besides the novelty of former leadership rival Malcolm Turnbull appearing side-by-side to Tony Abbott (whom is destined to be Prime Minister come September), there was some substantial detail.

It even drew the blustery ire from Minister for Communications,  Stephen Conroy, who had the odd line at yesterday's press conference to the effect of: 'Malcolm Turnbull is the king of telling lies using facts'.

Make of that what you will.

Labor's recent work on a National Broadband Network, or NBN, has operated on the premise that fibre would be connected to every single home in Australia. Because of this premise, it has largely ran over-budget, suffered poor management, various bungles, and is projected to take much longer to implement.

However, having said that, it does have the lofty goal of promising at least 100Mbps at reasonable prices.

Yours truly is currently sucking down the Internet at 3Mbps, as are many rural and regional Australians, and the prospect of waiting until after 2020 to access a service such as the NBN is daunting.

Labor are to be commended though for setting such a lofty goal; in terms of comparison to countries like the UK, Italy, South Korea, and even a few former Soviet republics, Australia's current standard of Internet service delivery has already fallen far well behind other modern (and not so modern) parts of the world.

So, Labor's NB is fibre to the home, or FTTH for short, that much we know, so what is the Coalition's plan?

Well, a lot has changed since the last Federal Election. Back then, Tony Abbott and the Coalition were singing the praises of wireless technology, and throwing their support behind such things as 'WiMAX' as I believe it were called.

The problem with wireless technology is that it's usually prone to congestion when the network becomes saturated with users slowing it down, and lag and delays, which doesn't help with applications such as video conferencing.

Because of those obvious flaws, no one really took the Coalition's broadband policy seriously.

Now they have reached a middle ground - fibre to the node, or FTTN for short.

Aren't you just loving these acronyms?

FTTN is a model where fibre networking is still employed, but instead of wiring it to every individual home, it is instead wired to what is a called a 'node' - this would work by connecting, say, a few streets together, by using the already existing copper wire running to the user's home to the node.

Minimum promised speed is 25Mbps up to 50Mbps, and there is the option (for a large fee) of connecting fibre to the premise if a user does indeed want the full 100Mbps.

It's fabled to come in for a cheaper cost to the tax payer and be faster to implement, by 2016.

On news forums and places like Twitter today, everyone is making a joke out of the proposal - all of a sudden, everyone that uses a computer and a web browser is suddenly a rolled gold expert on building a colossal broadband network.

And once again, it's a tit-for-tat argument where every Comic Book Guy-type nerd is espousing Labor's NBN as the only way to go, slamming their fists down on the desk, spilling their chips, and demanding fibre to their home.

Well guys, just chill for now.

Let's look at this logically - firstly, Labor will most likely not be in power federally after the September 14 election - period.

Secondly, where was all this blather and bluster over the past three or so years when the Coalition had no comparable broadband policy, and for all intents an purposes had their heads buried in the cable trenches?

The project was going to be stopped altogether, and flakey wireless broadband was instead going to be the policy.

All in all, I think it is a good compromise. The Liberals have realised that they cannot simply stop the NBN rollout, and they will in a way inherit much of the work that Labor has already gotten underway.

For a country the size of Australia, ripping up the existing copper network and replacing it entirely to every house with fibre is somewhat technically daunting.

The copper network also has its detractors, labelling it as out-of-date, tired, crumbling, and just taking up space underground. Copper has a lot of years yet left in it - and it makes no sense to destroy perfectly serviceable infrastructure that still functions as intended.

All current internet and voice traffics travels over it - it obviously works, so having a mix of fibre and copper for the time being is perfectly acceptable, and in time, it will be replaced by fibre entirely anyway.

I'm no expert - you're no expert - we're going to get a Coalition government come September whether we like it or not, and everyone for now needs to get used to the idea in the real world their needs to be compromise.

When all is said and done, there are actually far more pressing issues with this nation other than broadband.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Aussies & Free Thought

The more I've thought about it, the more I have come to realise how sheep-like most Australians are.

Tucked away down here in the Pacific, Australia has often had an identity crisis - it stems from being a fundamentally immigration-based population, despite the chagrin and denial from our deeply embedded racist elements.

It's a land of contradiction.

An 'aspirational' Australian is an Australian whom plans to follow in his or her parents' footsteps by following the 'Great Australian Dream' and looking up to the grand idea of owning their own home.

This is despite the fact that today a 'home' is more of a personalised miniature bank that one temporarily lives in; you effectively live in your own little bank, and you glue yourself to the television every time the Reserve Bank of Australia announces interest rate cuts or rises, as announced by hyperventilating economists in bad glasses.

Having to pay a mortgage, contradictorily, is also part of the Great Australian Gripe.

Many times on the news where there has been layoffs at a factory, a journalist will go mercilessly hunting for the following soundbite:

"I have to pay me mortgage! What now?!"

Shock horror ensues, as it echoes with the other vigilant and aspirational Australians who also have to pay their mortgage, striking fear into their very hearts of not being able to fund the interest to live in the bank's house.

Owning your own home for one thing is mostly a post-World War II idea. For instance, my grandparents lived in state housing on a very large block with big front & back yards for decades; paying a mortgage was never a concern, and they focused more on making it a home.

I'm not going to debate whether owning a home vs. renting is better, I'm merely using it as an example that there are other ways to skin a cat, namely of having a secure roof over your head, although the argument can also be made that the former can be a good idea.

With house prices now however, it makes even less sense than it did during the Baby Boomer era.

But today, there is no choice. In modern Australia, there is either only choice A) or choice B), with the 'B' option always being the wrong one, and one to denounce, ridicule, and make fun of.

We get all hot and bothered on repetitive social issues, such as gay marriage, and using it as an example, no one ever proposes (if you'll excuse the pun) that one might not want to be married in the first place.

Oh, the horror!

The middle class Baby Boomer's homosexual offspring merely want to follow in their parents' footsteps with a big expensive wedding, and a big expensive divorce at the end of it - and I have no issue with that.

As a matter of fact, nothing is stopping gay couples from having a wedding party; it's just that the state doesn't recognise their union.

Hopefully when they can be legally married, they will be able to equally divide up the sale of their house with minimal legal expenses.

But I digress.

As with many western nations, Australians are also big fans of conspicuous consumption, which is embodied in home ownership, adhering to the maxim of 'bigger is better'.

We in this country are wary of admitting that we have a socioeconomic class system, but we do; it is only that it is displayed and reinforced by our level of conspicuous consumption, meaning that the more 'stuff' you have than the other bloke, the better off you must therefore be.

This is why the term 'cashed up bogan' is so often used.

They may indeed have their palms greased with cash, but they spend most of it as disposable income in the vain hope of climbing the invisible class ladder - Bazza might go for a new ute, and Shazza might spring for a new Commo, despite the fact that both vehicles rapidly depreciate in value while they pay the interest over several years.

A debt cycle is established, as you need to pay for your shiny new toys that will do nothing but lose value - not a very efficient way of climbing the ladder, but your mates will think it's cool.

Celebrity culture also has a part to play, namely the fact that Australia imports most of its celebrity rubbish from the United States, so naturally we try to emulate the 'American Dream' as well.

See what I mean about our identity crisis? What's the 'Australian Dream' again... owning a home?

How insipid, so let's add in some good old fashioned promiscuity in there as well, some botox injections, competitive weight loss, 'get rich quick' talent shows, Zumba classes, and bada bing, bada boom, modern Australian culture is born!

It has also infected our political processes somewhat.

Having a baby? No worries, here's a few thousand dollars, go buy yourself a big screen telly.

Have some kids in school? Not a problem, here's a few thousand dollars, go buy yourself a beer.

Need some childcare? Not a problem, we'll help pay for that, too, so you can *drum roll*

... pay your mortgage!

Heaven forbid we would allow the cashed up bogan to sacrifice anything out of their income to pay for their own offspring; that wouldn't make the government look like a good guy, would it?

Oh, and I've known a family that did actually use the baby bonus to pay for a new big screen TV - it does happen, and I would dare say it's rather prolific.

All the more to encourage a consumer-based society, I would say.

Freethinking is perhaps difficult when the government has already made the choice for you.