Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, GPS & 1080i


As the story goes, Queen Marie-Antoinette – the 18th century version of Paris Hilton, showed very little compassion for the starving French people and arguably with the quote above lead to the French Revolution (and a subsequent one-way ticket to the guillotine). Don’t you just miss the days when people properly disposed of failed leaders?

If history teaches us anything it’s that we do not learn from it.

Every Black Friday Americans take time off their work in an incessant search of great deals. In what is usually a great display of declining humanity, Walmart tends to showcase the finest – this year one associate got murdered in a stampede when nearly 200 people bum rushed the store and just had to get that 1080i LCD screen or the GPS receiver.

I had the lack of pleasure of spending a part of my childhood in Europe (stick with me, I’ll connect the dots in a minute) where many families practiced the epic fail of religious ignorance, fraud and arrogance in a little thing called “slava” – the religious aspect involved the actual cause for the celebration, as each family offered prayers to the Saint of their choosing for watching over them and blessing them (with the lifestyle status two inches beyond starvation)  followed by a big party, reception and a feast. In reality, this was an exercise in self-delusion and fraud, as the regions known throughout centuries for their destitute means and survivalist lifestyles would have one evening a year where they would go out and showcase themselves as the royalty among their peers. People that had nothing and barely scraped by would go all out to show how good it was to be them, even if it was total charade.

Sound familiar?

Today we are encouraged to spend, to go all out, to single-handedly bring our economy back through the consumerism and living above our means during the season where we should be with our families content with what we have we indulge in the crystal clear 1080i resolution of our brand new LCD TV.

Vlad’s quick guide to making it through a tough economic cycle:

  1. Save more money than you spend. If you cannot make it through a full year without a job living on the savings in your bank you should not be spending, you should be looking for a second job.
  2. Defer big purchases until you can either pay it off immediately or obtain credit and incentives that far undervalue the asset (so you can sell it if you suddenly need to liquidate assets to cover other debts).
  3. Haggle for everything that has a sales person. Sales people keep their jobs and receive bonuses based on their ability to fill the pipeline and meet their quota – not on the bottom line profit they realize on each and every sale. To them it’s more important to land a $500 purchase than to earn a 3% profit on a fictional sale.
  4. Realize that social status is not a competition. People who go all out eventually end up out of luck. As you watch the commercials for Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Jewelry and gadget of the month remember that only a fool and his money are soon parted.

Remember, a great deal on crap you don’t really need is not a great deal, it’s a waste.

Wishing you the best this season,

Vlad Mazek, who hopes he’ll be able to find his office without a GPS.

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