Learning to be a consumer

It is really no wonder that Americans are a financial state of crisis, we worship at the altar of consumption and indoctrination into the religion of consumption is starting at even younger ages. Hell, have you actually watched any so called child friendly television? I swear every other minute there is a commercial on demanding that we buy this or that….of course the kiddos want everything they see. In the past year we have started to allow the girl child to watch regular TV and I gotta tell ya, it’s not the programming I object to, it’s the fucking commercials.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I swear the public schools; the one funded by my high ass property taxes is another place that seems to promote the religion of consumption. Now when college boy aka eldest child started grammar school eons ago he attended private school and I was not inundated with requests for money. I paid my monthly nut oooops, tuition and it was all good in the hood.

Now that we live in a small town (well large by Maine standards since technically it’s a city but by most standards it’s a town) my girl attends the local public school and I gotta tell you, I wish they’d just send home a letter telling us what to donate instead of all these fund raising letters. Maybe I am salty since my day job involves raising money but really I do not want to buy the shit you people are pushing.

Last night I came home to a 4 page fund raising letter detailing how we can buy gift cards to support the PTO (parent teacher organization) who admittedly does bring in some of the extracurricular activities that are no longer in the budget such as concerts, etc. It seems that if I buy a gift card for Pottery Barn, the school will get 8% of that $100 gift card. Apparently this is a wonderful new fund-raising tool…I don’t know but I liked when I used to sell candy bars back in school. But I imagine selling chocolate bars in this hyper vigilante nutrition times is a no-no. Yet despite the fact that we are a nation of financial idiots it seems maybe we need to start directing some energy into teaching kids about money and finances. However when schools start having fundraisers that are focused on buying gift cards I will be honest it bothers me. Maybe I would not have been as annoyed if there was not yet another flier telling me if I buy gift cards for one of the local grocers the school will get a portion of that money too. Call me crazy but what about a letter saying exactly how much money the PTO is trying to raise and asking for contributions. I have no idea how much my PTO is trying to raise but they are asking me to shop, shop, shop. Reminds me of folks who bought houses without asking the details and now are fucked.

I wish that I could say what we are dealing with at our school is just a local issues but I have heard reports from parents all over the country who have noticed the increase in fund raising in public schools. Frankly it’s appalling and I am also thinking what about folks who don’t have any extra money? The way these cards are set up you have to buy at least $25 worth, how many folks who are struggling financially will support this even thought they can’t afford it? At least a straight forward fundraiser would allow folks to give something.

Considering that in some cases public schools feels they need to pick up the the slack of parents (which is whole other post) maybe they should think about what they are modeling to kids. No matter what the cause and yes the work of the PTO is good, but mindless consumption is a bad thing. Sure gift cards are a lovely idea and can make for great gifts but at least in my family, we try to keep Christmas low key and gift cards are just not what I do.

PS: Don’t even get me started on those damn Scholastic book sales, I swear I am buying books every few weeks. Ugh

3 thoughts on “Learning to be a consumer

  1. The commercials drive me nuts! I have been talking to my kids about commercialism and consumerism since my eldest was about 5. So they recognize when they are being sold to. Doesn’t prevent them from getting the “gimmes” every once in a while…

    As far as school, I *hated* fundraisers. I would rather the school ask me to make a contribution (whatever I could afford) at the beginning of the year than constantly ask me for more money! And of course, they had the kids so caught up, I would really start to feel like an awful person if I didn’t buy whatever the fundraiser do-dad of the week was. Ugh. Don’t miss it! 😉

    • That’s exactly it! I wrote this post while still waking up but yes, they get the kids involved and it feels like crap. Last week my girl’s school had a special concert sponsored by the PTO and my girl enjoyed it but she came home mentioned it and then asked did I pay money because the PTO said the Mommies who paid helped bring the concert to school. She is 5 so I know she probably got it a little mixed up yet the very fact they mentioned money and had kids asking if their parents paid annoyed me greatly.

      I’m like you just tell me what you need and let me make a donation. Don’t ask me to hustle my family and friends.

  2. I’ve heard that some parents just cut a check directly to the PTO/PTA at the beginning of the year. The pisser about that though, is that they still send your kid home with those darn fundraiser booklets every fall selling overpriced crap and if your kids sells x items, they get some trinkety little prize that was made in a sweat shot in China that the kids go apeshit over getting, but ends up on the floor of the toy/bedroom 20 minutes after they get it (if it even makes it out of the bottom of the backpack).

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