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What The Lorax Can Teach Us about Economics (and Saving The World)

The-Lorax

Can you believe I’ve yet to read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss? I know, crazy right? And if you haven’t either you really should.

Like, right now.

Better yet, go see the movie. Take your kids, nephew or niece, and if you don’t have one of those, go see it anyway. By yourself, or with a friend.

The message is relevant, urgent…and CRITICAL TO YOUR SURVIVAL!

You won’t regret it.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! 

The Once-ler

A man on a mission of putting a Thneed (an infinitely muti-usable cloth made from the silky “leaves” of the Truffula trees) on every man, woman and child.

“It’s a shirt. It’s a sock. It’s a glove. It’s a hat.  But it has other uses. Yes, far beyond that.  You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!  Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats”

In pursuit of his “dream”, he showed blatant disregard for the environment for the sake of profit. He severely damaged the ecosystem by cutting down the Truffula trees and polluting the environment with industrial waste. The sludge made the humming fish leave, smog forced the Swomme Swans out, and a lack of the Truffula fruits caused the  Bar-ba-loots to go off in search for other food.

:(

The Once-ler, while upset to see the animals go, dismissed the Lorax’s pleadings until the last Truffula Tree was chopped down, leaving the Once-ler alone with a failed business in a desolate valley under a dark smoggy sky.

The moral of the story is pretty obvious: Don’t rape and pillage the earth for profit or you’ll end up a miserable old fart in the middle of a lifeless valley.

Oh yeah, and the world will go up in flames and explode in your face, too.

But that’s not the only lesson we can learn from our day dreamy, turned greedy, now regretful friend. Believe it or not, the Once-ler can teach us about economics, caring, and saving the world.

Here’s how.

Nothing lasts forever

Iron, wood, gold, cobalt, platinum, copper, chromium, and diamonds. No, I’m not describing the illustrious bling hanging around my neck. I’m no Kid Rock or Kanye West!

I’m talking about how every object you’re surrounded by at this very moment contains at least one of those listed materials.

We forget that, don’t we?

Your keyboard, desk, pen holder, telephone, shirt, shoes and belt – came from the precious earth beneath your feet. Your cell phone, toothpicks, paperclips, pez dispenser, flower pot, and pajamas – were extracted from the ground you stand on. Every bright and vibrant color soothing and saturating your retina, comes from nature.

But what if, like the Truffula trees, we were to run out of resources?

Could we buy it all back with our precious currency?

No, it wouldn’t.

The resources on this planet are finite, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

But still, we insist on using them at an alarming rate in the name of “meeting market demand.” Want to know what the market REALLY demands? A shit ton of useless CRAP no one has, or EVER will, truly need want or require.

For example, have you ever heard of a Snuggie?! It’s a fucking robe, only you wear it backwards! (No offense if you have one, or if I ever gifted you one.)

Really?! We create these useless products to support and promote a “thriving economy?!” – which is an ass backwards concept of reality?

Here’s what economy really means – “e·con·o·my – to be prudent in the managing of resources to avoid extravagant expenditure or waste.”

Google an image of a landfill and you’ll easily see we’re not being so prudent, are we?

So, given the destructive nature of our economy, how can you do your part to save the world?

Baby steps, that’s how.

The next time you’re shopping, keep in mind, that thing you supposedly “need” was stripped, ripped and raped from the belly of the earth. If there’s another way for you to obtain it without creating more demand for it, then take that route instead. Borrow it from someone or from the library, barter on Craigslist, rent it, or honestly determine if you truly, really, and desperately need it.

Speaking of needs…

The economy thrives on scarcity

No trees, no oxygen, right?

Enter Mr. Aloysius O’Hare.

A tiny little baby man with a huge head, L shaped eyebrows and a horribly greasy head of hair.

He became a Zillionaire by selling bottled air to the oxygen-starved citizens of Thneedville; a lifeless, all plastic, steel walled city of “happy” citizens.

Not only did O’Hare capitalize on the scarcity of air, he became a protector, guardian, and warden of it. He made sure no Truffula trees were ever grown, seen or even for a moment – thought of.

Clean free air would devastate his profits, crumble his empire and dehydrate his oily scalp.

Essentially, O’Hare beautifully represents the corporate greed and corruption ruling the world today. For example, did you know we’re facing a water crisis? By 2050 it’s expected half the world’s population will experience a water shortage.

Here’s an interesting question for you.

What do you think is going to happen to the price of water? Better yet, can you see any incentives for corporations to maintain a clean water supply, especially if it means watching their profits plummet, crash, and burn? Couldn’t you pretty much conclude that corporations are incentivized to turn a blind eye towards water pollution?

“Limited time offers” and “while supplies last” gimmicks are also based on the idea of scarcity; the bogus belief that there isn’t enough to go around. Meanwhile stock rooms and warehouses are overflowing with “Limited Edition” Snuggies, Elmo Dolls and iPads.

Bullshit!

Your everyday products are no different.

Ever notice how products break down or stop working shortly after the warranty’s expired? This is called “planned obsolescence.”

It means products are intentionally created to break down after a certain amount of time to make you buy more. Meanwhile the toaster you threw in the garbage could’ve been repaired by replacing a simple wire, knob or timer switch. But unfortunately, most products aren’t made to be salvageable.

They’re made to break down so as to feed the cyclically consumptive nature of this warped system we proudly call “our economy.”

The take away is this: Buy quality products, even if you have to pay more money up front. If it breaks, make time to visit fixya.com and learn how to repair it on your own. It’ll be fun, you’ll learn a new skill, and you’ll be saving the planet some of it’s precious resources. At the very least you can say you tried.

Don’t be wasteful. Be conscious. Practice REAL economy.

Oh, and don’t let the water run when you’re brushing those beautiful pearly whites of yours. :D

Although annoyingly evil, keep in mind O’Hare couldn’t have accomplished what he did by himself. The people of Thneedville helped him.

He needed them to buy into his ridiculous idea that there was no other way to live, and they bought it.

Which brings me to another valuable insight about our economy.

It runs on our belief

Qwitr is about helping you let go of counterproductive beliefs. Beliefs ruining your life and the world in general. Beliefs keeping you from getting fired up and passionate about changing the world and making a difference.

Beliefs keeping you from giving a shit.

One of the most collectively counterproductive beliefs in the history of mankind is that we need to live by these destructive principals of infinite growth and scarcity in order to thrive and survive as a society and as a species.

If we truly wanted, there’s technology out there capable of providing us an abundance of laborless clean energy, food, housing, clothing and useful everyday products; without the need to rape and pillage the earth of it’s finite resources. But therein lies the problem, as this would mean diminishing the profits of corporate globalism.

We MUST realize this system of waste and destruction doesn’t run on money alone.

It runs on our participation, which is fueled by our belief in it.

But most of us live comfortably enough to turn our heads on these problems. The only way the world will ever change is if enough of us start caring. Which brings me to the most powerful message Dr. Suess left behind.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.

At the end of the story, the regretful Once-ler realizes the meaning behind an engraved stone the Lorax left behind.

It read “Unless.”

He gives Ted (the hero of our story) the last Truffula seed and tells him to plant it in the center of town where everyone can see it.

Why?

Because people need to SEE what else is possible. People need to see evidence of a totally different reality. That life doesn’t have to be the way it is.

Ted had to plant a seed of belief.

But before almost being mobbed by an angry, uninformed and brainwashed crowd, Ted had to bull dose through one of the steel city walls. He had to knock it down and show the citizens of Thneedville the terrible reality laying right outside their door step. The dark, smog filled, treeless valley of death was right under their noses the whole time.

Their whole lives they had been censored from the truth.

They had been wearing blinders.

They had been conditioned to not care.

To forget.

To selfishly live their lives without a care in the world.

The Lorax is ultimately a lesson in giving a shit.

In caring a “whole awful lot.”

But it’s hard to care, isn’t it?

There’s SO much required of us, just to survive. We simply HAVE to keep our stream of income flowing, or we don’t eat. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our kids. When we get home we’re too exhausted to give a damn about anything else other than dinner and our cold and cozy bed and comforter.

But still, in light of our “busy” lives, there’s still something you can do to jump start your caring muscle today.

Next time you read an article about a starving child, a war stricken country or the rapidly disappearing rain forest, don’t flip the page or turn the channel.

Don’t censor yourself.

Don’t look the other way.

Choose to see the devastation outside the city walls, like the citizens of Thneedville.

Let it affect you.

Let it change you.

Let it enter your heart so you can feel the compassion in your chest.

Let it shock you.

Let it anger you.

Let it make you cry.

Let it open your eyes.

We’ve been censored from it to such an extent we now censor ourselves. We close our hearts. We say “Awwww, poor starving kids. The government should really do something about that” and then flip the channel.

This is why it’s critical we wake up.

That we open our hearts and care a whole awful lot.

Unless we do that, nothing will change.

It will not.

Plant a seed and let it grow

Ted’s goal at the end of the movie was to simply plant the seed. That’s all he had to do to get people to see. This leads me to ask YOU, “What seeds are you planting?”

This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate your life to the trees and become an acid tripping hippy. No. You don’t have to become an activist either.

But what if the next time your BFF (best friend forever) wants to buy the latest iProduct or Droid Stupendous, you lightly mention to them the impact it has on our environment and our planetary resources? What if your mom wants to buy another couch, but you suggest she re-stuff the cushions and reupholster the covers instead? What if you stopped going to the mall unless you REALLY needed to?

Wouldn’t that make a tiny difference?

If you’re a blogger, writer, speaker, etc. what if you occasionally touched on “off topic” ideas to remind your audience about these critical issues?

You don’t have to go full blown maniac like I did in this post. You can be more subtle and less psychotic. But at least make it a point to plant a seed in some way or another.

You never know when a seed you plant in someone’s mind will grow.

It just might.

The Lorax is an amazing story who’s message desperately needs to be remembered.

Why?

Because we can’t throw money at the sky and make the smog clouds disappear.

We can’t freeze it and use it to restore the ice caps.

We can’t pour it from a pitcher and turn it into water.

We can’t eat it.

We can’t breathe it.

We can’t wear it.

The truth is…

Money will not save us when the planet is gone.

Unless…

- Tony

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  • Laura

    I love this.

    • http://www.qwitr.org Tony Fuentes

      Thank you Laura. Took me over a week to write it, but I’m glad I got it out there. :)

  • Ryan Young

    I just watched this movie. Literally finished minutes ago.

    I seen the trees as media consumers. Chopping them down is the same as suing them for not falling into the business cycle.

    I seen the cameras spying on Ted as a reason that you should REALLY care that you’re privacy is being invaded. People always use that whole argument about “Well if you’re not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to hide.” and Ted wasn’t doing anything illegal. And the big corporations have just pushed so hard to make laws to allow them to spy on us – even as far as cameras everywhere.

    O’Hare’s lies are like the MPAA’s lies about that piracy is terrible and bad for the economy, then said it wasn’t, but still continues to suppress it. (Perfect mirror image of the MPAA’s CEO’s activity.)

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