Nike, Adidas, Reebok – what do these names mean to you? What images do they conjure? Is it athletic brilliance? Fashion? Is it Michael Jordan or Serena Williams? Lionel Messi or Floyd Mayweather?
I bet it’s not shin splints, blown knees, and busted feet. But it should be. Turns out running shoes are a total sham. Not only are they not helping you run, they’re actually accelerating the risk of injury. The aforementioned manufacturers have known this for at least 20 years, if not the entire time. But it hasn’t stopped them racking up an estimated 20 billion dollars worth of sales.
You’ll find all this inside the bestselling, must-read, non-fiction masterpiece, Born To Run. Journalist Christopher Mcdougall quotes numerous scientific studies and expert opinions to destroy the conventional sports shoe. Among them is Dr Craig Richards from the University of Newcastle, Australia, who finds zero evidence running shoes make you less prone to injury. Bernard Marti M.D, a preventative medicine specialist from Switzerland’s University of Bern, meanwhile, finds the more expensive the running shoe the more likely you are to get injured.
“Runners in shoes that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less than $40,” his study found.
But I’m not not here to talk about running shoes. This is but one example of the multitude ways in which we, the general public, have been hoodwinked to the point of death, disfigurement, and disaster by the capitalist consumer model. Running shoes, the companies that make them, and the athletes that endorse them, are among the most recognisable and celebrated entities in western culture. If you can’t trust that, what can you trust? Turns out, almost nothing.
With Born To Run’s revelation fresh in my mind, I set out for a run (barefoot) near the rural property I’m currently living on. In every direction I’m surrounded by sugar cane plantations.
Sugar…what’s that good for? Turns out nothing. It is literally poison to the human body. Yet we consume monolithic amounts of it. Emotionally destabilising, highly addictive, a direct cause of obesity, diabetes, and all manner of cancers, it does nothing practical for us other than make things taste otherworldly good.
Take Japan for example. Colon, prostrate and breast cancer were almost unknown until the Japanese began eating like Americans. Within a few decades their mortality rate from those three diseases skyrocketed.
Then there’s what sugar plantations do to the environment. These crops take up huge tracts of our best and most fertile land and require significant dumps of toxic pesticide and fertilisers to grow, much of which runs straight into our rivers with disastrous consequences.
Following my run, I flicked on the TV and tuned into the Friday Night Football (rugby league) telecast. I’ve loved this game since I was four but on this night it took on a different complexion.
As the game unfolded, I was more interested in the advertisements surrounding the ground than the western suburbs derby between the Parramatta Eels and Penrith. These billboards, it occurred to me, offer the perfect snapshot of consumer culture in the western, capitalist world. They are a symbol of what we spend our money on and what powers our economy. This is what I saw:
Advertisements for alcohol (poison), fast food (poison), flavoured milk (poison), soft drinks (poison), lawyers (parasites), insurance (what could possibly go wrong?), Cobra Skip Bins (rubbish), and of course, sports shoes (rubbish).
Equality is the buzzword of 2020 and in honour of that the producers rigged the halftime show with hot blondes dressed in Asian sweatshop garments.
After the ads, 26 working and welfare class brutes clattered into each other racking up nearly as many brain injuries as they did points. The television and media networks, which celebrate these characters on Friday night, will likely crucify at least one of them by Monday for either a poor performance or an off field indiscretion – like sniffing blow in the cubicle next to some journalists doing the exact same thing.
When it all inevitably goes to seed and you’re beset by depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal thoughts, you’re sent to a doctor who prescribes you a magic pill, free of charge (courtesy of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme), manufactured by a mysterious mega corporation called Pfizer or Purdue Pharma, who infamously bought off close to the entire conventional medical profession not to mention countless politicians.
The wealthiest countries in the world, it turns out, are also the most mentally ill. America is both the world’s richest nation (more billionaires than Russia, China and Germany combined) and consumes the most anti-depressants on the planet. Australia sits eighth on the United Nation’s Human Development Index — a composite of life expectancy, education and per capita income — and consumes the third-highest amount of antidepressants on the planet.
The wealthiest countries are not only the most miserable and also the biggest consumers. America has the biggest carbon footprint on the planet per capita at 18.6 tonnes CO2 equivalent; and Australia is in third with a per capita carbon footprint of 17.7 tonnes CO2 equivalent (China’s per capita carbon footprint is small but their role as manufacturer of the majority of the world’s consumer goods makes them the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth).
Rich, fat, broken, depressed, poisoned, and surrounded by rubbish. This is the best of the west.