The Illusion of Ownership

” Imagine no possession, it’s easy if you try”

Remember that line ? That’s from John Lennon’s song Imagine. Nice try but in this day and age, in your dreams pal. Perhaps 1000 years down our road to enlightenment. For most of us this life is all about acquisitiveness, a lifetime rampage of passion to own things beyond our reach. I’m thinking – what would the world be like of all of us aren’t obsessed with owning things that are for the most part, materials that exceed our needs and meant more to boost our egos? To prove that that this kind self-indulgent behavior is dysfunctional , isn’t it our utmost satisfaction albeit subconsciously, when we know that what we own is beyond the reach of people we know? Therefore, does it mean that the less friends and relatives we have, the less obsessive and greedy we become? Imagine if there are no people to brag to, or everyone can have the same things you own, would you have the same level of acquisitiveness?

Some of us would argue and say, “don’t I have the right to the better and finer things in life ?” Sure all of us do but our problem is identification with ego. Oftentimes we don’t look for the finer and better but the most expensive because it makes us standouts in the eyes of society. We are under the illusion that the most expensive stuff are the best quality when they are not. People who rave for a certain product believing it is the greatest are often hoodwinked by clever marketing hype into thinking that it is. Our egos dictate our brains and influence our decision. We buy a 60 in. flat screen and throw double the money because everybody else has less than 60. We build expensive private schools and exclusive housing subdivisions because we want to put a tag on our identity as members of the elite to separate ourselves from the pack.

People who have been to Cuba, one of the last bastions of communism left in the world today tell me that Cubans cannot easily own assets of substantial value and that even food is rationed by the government, the only employer in the country. The concept of free enterprise does not exist therefore people cannot enrich themselves and fulfill their version of the proverbial American Dream. The country looks like decades behind in terms of infrastructure development, much like the 50’s. Yet when I look at the Human Development Index ( HDI) rankings for 2009, Cuba places 51st amongst the 182 countries sampled, 54 slots higher than Pinas. Cubans might look poor for they can’t own much but they have free health care, free education at all levels, adequate housing and no one is dying of starvation. Contrast this scenario with a densely populated, cramped city like Manila, proud owner of the three of largest malls in the world but surrounded by extreme poverty, unemployment and an unstoppable population growth behaving like a runaway train. All because of our obsession to own and belong leaving the others on the other side of the fence where we think they should be ? Is this what we call the virtues of freedom under a democracy?


images_credit_cardIn a capitalist world, we all know that money is being made in astute and creative ways. For ordinary consumers, what would be more tempting to acquire things without putting money down ? The credit card business made it possible for people to subsidize their way to acquiring things they thought they could never own. Qualification for credit depends on one’s income but lately, card companies had made it a practice to extend credit to the unqualified applicants but at the expense of usurious interest rates. One bank made the dubious distinction of being the ultimate loan shark, charging as high as a whopping 79.9% APR on its credit card. Now, who would subscribe to such a diabolical yet supposedly legal interest rate ? Those who have filed for bankruptcy perhaps ? Gamblers trying to recoup their losses ?


images_hasselbladSpeaking of this Earth of ours being planet luxury, how about trading your BMW for a camera? You bet your behind, this camera commands a staggering price of $42 grand, good enough for a fair swap with a beemer. If you think 42K is quite a strech, how about downgrading to a 50 megapixel version for 12 grand less πŸ˜‰ Now tell me, who would tote around with a 60 megapixel camera taking photos of earthly creatures and things ? Only if you’re crazy to think that a 42 grand camera can auto-magically win you photo contests or you’re one of those filthy rich Pinoy congressmen who take their luxury limos to the local market to attend a barangay meeting with the market vendors. Chances are you’d find one of these babies in the trunk of their Rolls Royces. πŸ˜‰ Look now, this kind of camera works best if used outside this planet of ours πŸ˜† I guess owning one would be really out of this world eh ? 😎

26 Responses

  1. Cuba maybe a special case because the country is small. We know a lot of Cubans want to get out to be free.

    People splurge on their credit cards and risk defaulting if they lose their jobs. 79 percent interest is ludicrous.

    • It’s size and population is much easier to manage – that’s for sure.

      That’s why banks and credit card companies write off bad debts in billions when consumers default. It’s only good business when the economy is doing OK.

  2. I try to avoid buying thing sthat I don’t need but its hard. That’s why my credit card bill goes up.

    I’d rather keep the beemer πŸ™‚

    • We all have that temptation to buy anything we want because we have fat credit card limits ugh.

      Same here – beemer for me πŸ™‚

  3. Orgasm is still better than a Beemer and a 60 meg Hasselblad or a big mansion in the suburb of a stylish metropolis!

  4. Interesting blog. Keep it up.

  5. Almost 80% charge? That is so usurious!

    During the Ondoy typhoons, a lot of rich people were affected by the flood and lost their homes and property. Some of them said that it’s a real good lesson to disattach yourself to your worldly belongings and appreciate the things which are important in life.

    • 80percent APR – It is murderous isn’t it ? 😦

      Very true. We get a reality check when events like Ondoy happens when all of a sudden material things we have acquired don’t really mean much, and also find out that they ar ethings we can live without !

  6. ‘Cubans might look poor for they can’t own much but they have free health care, free education at all levels, adequate housing and no one is dying of starvation.’

    wow.thanks for sharing this to us. it’s a good reality check.

    sadly, sa pinas,ang mayaman lalong yumayaman.

    ang mahirap,lalong naghihirap.

    • I guess Pinas has gone to a point where only the haves enjoy life at the expense of the have nots. The have nots put people in power, the have nots work for the people in power, the have nots buy what the haves sell. The have nots also reproduce like rabbits and the haves don’t give a rats ass because they’ll just build giant malls to suck money from their pocket.

  7. Whoa, isn’t that interest rate compliant with any existing usury law?

    Last month I checked the latest report of ranking of top countries (based on human development) and I’m a bit surprised to know that some countries (I never thought they’d be) got a better rank than the Philippines.

    • I guess it is up to the consumers if they want to get ripped with such usurious rates.

      Pinas was 90th in 2007. It is sliding . We were no 84 in 2006 ahead of China. Now we are 105 and China is ahead of us. even Sri Lanka has surpassed us at 102.

      We must stop over population to avert the slide. Many say this is one of the more doable formulas to improve the economy but the govt is still twiddling its thumb whether to do it or not. 😦

  8. No one is dying of starvation but 99.99 percent are itching to bolt to the US, except Raul and InFidel, errr Fidel, hehe..
    Lots of 1950’s american cars still running on the streets of Cuba. A lingering joke about two Noypis who travelled to Cuba and imprisoned for merely uttering the word “cambio”, meaning change. Guess they were trying to change dollars to cuban dinero.

    I’d like to find out really what toys does Bill Gates have in his mansion. Am sure he doesn’t own a lot of suits.

    Wish I can convince the millions of creditcard holders to just dump it. Let’s pay in cash again.

    • At the end of the day, we can only speculate as to what’s really happening inside Cuba. Our world is different than theirs. I guess if they can play soccer and baseball, they’re contended. I plan to go to Cuba next year and see for myself before Castro dies πŸ™‚

      They say Bill Gates wears the brand of Timex watch that exchanges contact details when two people wearing the same watch shake hands πŸ™‚ He isn’t that extravagant except for one thing – his house which boasts of star wars type of automation and gadgetry πŸ™‚

      yep, the debit card feature for credit cards is now being rolled out to the public. You have a choice of debit or credit with the same card.

  9. The love of money is truly the root of all evil.

    Many people love to own things, even though it is no longer a necessity. It’s all down to greed and image.

    If only the rich nations/individuals would share their excess wealth to the world’s poor, poverty will be lessened or eradicated.


    I am allergic to credit cards (although we need them during travel); I’m still so much a cash person. I don’t like to spend beyond my means.


    That camera is so expensive. Maybe professional photographers would like to have one during outer space coverages. πŸ™‚

    • Ego methinks also has to be blamed for the covetousness of man. The rich can certainly share their wealth in a way that matters most and that creating resources for the poor to become independent and not simply feeding them 3 times a day.

      Cash is still king in some countries but here, if you intend to withdraw more than 2 grand cash from your account you have to call the bank first πŸ™‚ Debit works for me. On one hand, I am forced to use my card for airline mileage points but pay it out πŸ˜‰

      I think the 60 megapixels has its use in fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and even Playboy where quality photos are extremely critical to its success as a publication – or maybe ad companies, delivering the best picture money can buy to its clients.

  10. in our health epidemiology class, Cuba was compared to other countries in terms of health care- spending less but with better results…. ergo, they are doing something right

    • how are you bro ? It’s been a while πŸ™‚

      If you watch Michael Moore’s controversial movie “SICKO” you’d see him take 5 NY firefighters to Cuba, via a boat crossing that 90 mile span from Key West, Florida , to get medical assistance at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba. The base offers all the Al Qaeda prisoners free health care so why not firefightes who were refused health care insurance because of their deteriorating condition ?

      The short end of the story is – they were refused entry to the base so Moore takes the 5 firefighters to a Cuban hospital where they were treated for free, even if they were tourists. An Eastern European officemate of mine who has been to Cuba tells me that the hospital they went to was a 5 star hospital only meant for the Cuban elite and members of the Communist party but the hospitals for ordinary folks aren’t that impressive. Whatever the case, their health care is free for everyone and subsidized by the government – that’s the bottom line.

  11. some of the cases i handle involve unpaid credit cards (that is until lawyers are prohibited in court via the small claims act) i always say to debtors that it is still best to pay their obligations but if they really have no more means to pay and they are constantly harrassed by credit card agents, then they should let it go to court because judges more often than not frown against loan sharks and they will be ordered to pay only within their means.

    and about that 60 mega pixel camera??? what will i do with all those pixels??? 10mp is enough for me.

    • true. the court can “garnish” a portion of the client’s income to pay the credit card which could be a much lower amount.

      60mp is way too much even for large printouts but hey, there are always those who demand the best money can buy but the ideal condition for the best isn’t always available πŸ™‚

  12. Well said and well-written bro. Greed often creates wars in the past, even the two world wars were for such cause, the greed for more resources and market that colonialism had bestowed upon us.

    Consider also extreme vanity, such concoction (with excessive greed) could often be explosive.

    But enough greed drives us to progress our own selves for without it would be so unreal.

    • It could be explosive if it the desire to own and amass wealth becomes exploitative of others. I wonder if our brand of democracy copied from the Yanks blends with our culture and is the right recipe for the country.

  13. These days, I’d rather pay purchases and services in cash rather than use plastic. I’ve had enough of these banks making money out of my wants and needs, he he.

    As for that Hassleblad camera, is it upgradable? indestructible? or even take you anywhere you want to? if not then, it’s a total frigging waste of good money. πŸ˜€

    It’s a sad fact, really, that while we claim to be only Christian nation in SE Asia, charity, which is one of the tenets of Catholicism, is lacking BIG TIME when it comes to health care.

    To be fair, the government isn’t the only one to blame for this, the church, too, has to share some of it. Di ba sila yung gustong dumami pa ang mga Pinoys (by trying to shoot down the RH bill), without giving some thought to the fact that the country can ill afford to feed, much less tend to the health needs of the growing population?

    • Banks are always ahead of you. Trust me. I work in one too πŸ˜‰

      The camera is only for those who have money to waste – that’s for sure.

      What about those people to beget children leaving them naked and hungry and sick – aren’t they responsible for the misery they cause to the children ? The RH bill may not get passed so the country goes on its way to self destruction.

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