Word Cloud Resized


Conspicuous consumption is a term introduced by the Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. The term refers to consumers who buy expensive items to display wealth and income rather than to cover their real needs.

Pecuniary Emulation is defined by Veblen as the tendency of lower class individuals to conspicuously consume or imitate the spending habits of members of the upper class in order to appear to be a member of the upper class.

‘Tis the Season.

Shopping Mall Mobbed - large

Black Friday,
The Shopping Poem

by John F. McCullagh

The people crowd the entrances
at Malls all over town.
To seize the choicest bargain deals, 
They’d gladly knock you down.
The retailers all hold their breath
as shopping gets in gear.
Will Santa fill his sleigh as hoped? 
– or lay off more Reindeer? 
There are plastic toys from China
colored with suspicious paint.
Whip out your last credit card
(when you see the bills, you’ll faint.) 
“The children must have Christmas! “
No request will be denied.
Never mind your youngest child
has just turned thirty five.
Don’t forget a gift for you
Don’t you deserve the best? 
Shopping is such good therapy
for the financially depressed 

Even in the midst of all the frantic shopping and decorating, there are the ever-present headlines reminding us that Peace on Earth is only a dream. So very little has changed since Denise Levertov wrote these words over 20 years ago:

In California During The Gulf War

Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among
trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts,
the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought,

certain airy white blossoms punctually
reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink–
a delicate abundance. They seemed

like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed
festival day, unaware of the year’s events, not perceiving
the sackcloth others were wearing.

To some of us, the dejected landscape consorted well
with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue,
daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons.

Yet the blossoms, clinging to thin branches
more lightly than birds alert for flight,
lifted the sunken heart

even against its will.
But not
as symbols of hope: they were flimsy
as our resistance to the crimes committed

–again, again–in our name; and yes, they return,
year after year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy
over against the dark glare

of evil days. They are, and their presence
is quietness ineffable–and the bombings are, were,
no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany

simultaneous. No promise was being accorded, the blossoms
were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed
the war had ended, it had not ended. 

Poems, songs and art have long been used to point out the link between profits and war:

                             War Tetractys

                                             by Maggie Emmett

       ­                                                 is good
                                                    for business
                                             both big and small
                           Profits will rise and make inflation fall
                        But soldiers, sailors, airmen, warriors all
                                              must heed the call
                                                   face fighting 
         ­                                               Death



And the hollow joys of over-consumption:

Mercedes Benz

mercedes-benz hood ornament

by Janis Joplin

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ?
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ? 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ? 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends,
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 

That’s it!

Can’t Buy Me Love

by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Can’t buy me love, love
Can’t buy me love

I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend
If it makes you feel all right
I’ll get you anything my friend
If it makes you feel all right
‘Cause I don’t care too much for money
For money can’t buy me love

I’ll give you all I’ve got to give
If you say you love me too
I may not have a lot to give
But what I’ve got I’ll give to you
I don’t care too much for money
For money can’t buy me love

Can’t buy me love
Everybody tells me so
Can’t buy me love
No no no, no

Say you don’t need no diamond rings
And I’ll be satisfied
Tell me that you want the kind of things
That money just can’t buy
I don’t care too much for money
Money can’t buy me love

Can’t buy me love
Everybody tells me so
Can’t buy me love
Can’t buy me love, oh

The Beatles 1960s with tea


Wishing all of us more balance and less stress
in this season of excess and overload.
The greatest gifts are ones no amount of money can buy:
love and affection, kindness and acceptance.

May they be given and received by you in abundance,
and may Peace inch a little closer in the coming year.


The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) by Thorstein Veblen http://www.conspicuousconsumption.org/Thorstein-Veblen.html http://www.gutenberg.org/files/833/833-h/833-h.htm

Black Friday, The Shopping Poem, by John F. McCullagh http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/black-friday-the-shopping-poem/

In California During the Gulf War, from Evening Train © 1992 by Denise Levertov, New Directions Publishing Corp

War Techtractys, by Maggie Emmett, Yellow Moon Issue 17, Winter 2005 http://hellopoetry.com/poem/954666/war-tetractys-war/

Mercedes Benz, by Janis Joplin, Pearl (1971) http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/janisjoplin/mercedesbenz.html

Can’t Buy Me Love, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=can%27t+buy+me+love+lyrics

War Profiteer Cartoon from Life Magazine, March 10 1919

Word Cloud Photo by Larry Cloud



About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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6 Responses to Word Cloud: PECUNIARY

  1. Today is my official No Shopping Day. I find that I don’t want or need any new stuff. Except for orange juice. We are out.

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    I hear you Chuck – we’re low on milk and butter substitute.

  3. Aridog says:

    wordvloud9 … why do you need or use “butter substitute?” Is someone in your family allergic or is it just a preference…but based upon what?

    It’s really none of my business, but I am nosy? 😀

  4. Aridog says:

    I’ve had two no shopping days in a row now…feels good. I need nothing and hate crowds. Win-win.

  5. wordcloud9 says:

    Aridog – Doctor recommendation due to cholesterol issues have caused use of butter substitute and other dietary changes – oh to have 22-year-old arteries again!

  6. Brandi preferred real butter, as does my granddaughter. I am stuck with diluted milk and a soybean/corn product that kind of looks like butter. I think the doctor lied. It won’t make me live longer…it will just SEEM longer.

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