I just finished “The Hacking of the American mind” by Dr Robert H. Lustig that looks at the use of the science of addiction by corporations to promote unnecessary and harmful consumption in order to drive profit. The books major arc is to delineate the blurred line between Happiness, as defined by the activity of the brains contentment pathways in which the release of Serotonin to a number of receptors throughout the brain to create a sustained, long term feeling of well being, and Pleasure as defined by the reward pathways were the release of dopamine generates desire and provokes the release of endogenous opioid peptides which generate a short term feeling of bliss.
The problem with doing this is that the purpose of the reward pathway is to motivate us to do thinks necessary for the survival and evolution of our species. The pleasure is fleeting, and seeking to maintain or prolong the feeling of pleasure makes us quickly want another hit and the nature of that reward/pleasure process is that second hit is not as satisfying because each time we activate the process we do it with a little more tolerance so the reward is less so we go for another hit. We go from one peanut buttercup, to two to the economy size bag, as our tolerance increases yet we still have the desire to have more, which is of course exactly what the manufacturer has in mind. Sell you more and more, make more profit, grow the economy, and all the while your health goes downhill. Dr Lustig talks a great deal of the 'other white powder' sugar- and particularly high fructose corn sugar, which is intentionally added to almost all process food with just this addictive effect in mind. The result of this is chronic metabolic diseases including heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, ovarian disease, cancer and dementia as well as Obesity. The doctor makes a strong case that the crisis in both healthcare and social security are a direct result of this profit through addiction, more people sick or disabled, longer and at younger ages, all to propel profit and jack up our GDP.
As the prevalence of this attitude would have it I was on the last chapter when I heard the BBC business daily program on Taxing the rich were Dutch Historian Rutger Bregman and the American Enterprise Institutes Ed Conard took different sides of the debate. Conard, a true lackey of corporate capitalism, attacked the value, need and importance of equality based on how well the reward of money worked in making the world better. It quite clear the only scale assessable to Conard in order to judge happiness or well being is, what's the GDP, how much money people made and how much things they consumed. American's make more money, they buy more stuff, so they live better and happier lives- but most of us living here know that is not true. Conard goes on about healthcare, saying repeatedly that American's are better off because they spend more on healthcare oblivious to the reality that they become no healthier and in fact continue to get sicker and feel worse. As Bregman repeatedly pointed out none of these, GDP, money made and money spent, are very good indicators of happiness but Conard just doesn't get it, the price tag is the only yard stick he can understand or recognize.
|I am a long time political activist who has often used art in my work. I am most currently focused on button art, but also design clothing, and make items from found wood such as crosses, wands and jester baubles.|