Niche and Kitsch

February 23rd, 2015

There are a few articles today in what is left of the Albuquerque Journal as a newspaper of general interest or general circulation about local business and businesses.  Newspapers are a dieing breed in America and elsewhere, at best they are ‘a blast from the past.’  Therefore, it makes sense that the articles contained (in the paper) are about past practices and outdated (not well-dated) concepts.

It must be noted, to be fair, that the Journal dropped its Sunday Real Estate section three weeks ago, and discontinued its ‘Money’ section two weeks ago.  The (obvious) simple observation is that there is little or no interest in real estate in Albuquerque and that the ‘end of money’ beat out the ‘end of history’ in being first.  The alternative view is that there are just new ways of doing things now, and that the ‘old ways’ just no longer make it.

On that theme, and on the theory that ‘business news’ really is news, it really is time to take a good hard look at business.  We live in a world that can finally face it – most business is based on niche and kitsch.  Let’s look at a few examples.  Shelter and clothing.  Shelter provides what clothing can’t, an expanded area of refuge from the weather.  As the Swedes say, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.”  This wisdom says little or nothing about ‘fashion.’

Fashion is the kitsch part of being a rag salesman.  The idea is that looking up to date (in clothes) will never be out of date; that only the clothes one buys has an expiration date.  The twist on the plot is that there is a human necessity of fashion, not clothing.  How dreary, and also untrue.

I’ve always maintained that, “nobody stays stupid forever.”  This brings us to the point of the simplest part of economic theory.  Simply put, “when money is plentiful people waste it, when money is dear, people are careful with it.”  Think, “fools and their plentiful money.”  Now, you know why banks make loans and governments always give to their favorite corporations.

So, most money is in the hands of the rich and the very rich right now, and is for the foreseeable future.  For most people, money is dear; there is only money enough for the barest and most basic necessities.  Jobs are tight.  Most jobs don’t bring a lot of satisfaction.  Most jobs don’t pay enough to elevate the worker out of poverty, why bother.

Creating ‘wants’ is the basis of trade.  It’s always a false construct.  It is rooted in the rather demeaning theory that most people WILL stay stupid forever.  An example.  In the 1950’s there was a mainstream media meme that ‘the poor’ (“on the dole”) would spend their money buying television sets and Cadillacs rather than food and adequate shelter.  The idea was to ‘look at the shacks’ and see if there was a TV antenna on top or a nice car outside.  The ‘suckers for advertising’ were ridiculed by the media for doing exactly as they were told.  It was like that then, it is still like that now.  The message has never really changed.

The ‘new America’ offers a few food stores and Dollar Stores for the poor (and the poor neighborhoods) and sheik slick shopping enclaves (in select and selected) neighborhoods that cater to the rich, the wanna be rich, and the wanna act rich – those people that love playing the part of the fools, no foolin’.

Business Outlook in the Journal features a few of them.   The commercial real estate brokers want to promote entrepreneurism.  The mayor of Albuquerque believes in it too.  As another article points out, “Nations entrepreneurial engine needs a kick-start“, most Americans no longer believe in kick-starter business, or businesses.   The big corporations like Apple and Wal-Mart now control everything.  It is the new (and only real) face of retail.  The rest is just nostalgia, shopping like in the fifties, or sixties, or eighties; so yesterday.

Owning an expensive house is not a real middle class objective anymore.  Most people, most places, would be a lot better off renting.  A cabin in the woods, or near fairly warm waters is real, like living in a beach shack maybe, maybe along a lightly populated river.  As many in North America have learned this year, the message of ‘green-house warming’ is to watch out for the cold.  Weather and weatherization costs are expenses that can be ignored if one is a bit practical about place.  Add this to the list of advice that a daily newspaper will never tell you.  Why move, when a student loan and massive debt can lead to a life of endless unnecessary purchases and purchasing?

The ‘niche’ business is the secret to success ‘they’ always say.  Hook up with a real estate company in Florida (maybe), sell swampland in Florida as the last great escape.  Tell them that Jeb Bush really wants ya.  Tell them that Hillary will never get you in Florida because Florida is for the rich and Arkansas is just about the poor.  Poor you if you believe it.  Stay stupid forever, for all that I care.  Pearls before swine, every pig deserves a new necklace (maybe).

When they start putting roller coasters on cruise ships and start offering roller derby type entertainments too, is when most people will start getting the message that the new world is not what you want and not about what you need.  Ship to shore, or shore to ship, there is an SOS out there.  Can you hear it now?  Can you hear it yet?  The only people that REALLY get burned on the great North American ponzi scheme are those immigrants that buy into last, or still believe in it all the way to the end.  Get out will you can (maybe)?

I wrote yesterday about connectivity and the importance of knowing about (or severing) connections and who or what you might be connected to.  Link up with God – that is good.  Linking up with bonds and bondage, not so good.  If there is a dollar price on whatever it is that you might wish to buy you really might want to think about it.  Just a thought.  Take it literally.

So, how many people will actually ever read any of this?  These thoughts are probably more in the ‘notes to myself’ category.   Will I listen?  Will the lesson stay relevant?  Inquiring minds want to know.