by Michael Thompson, Contributing Writer
In America, poverty doesn't always involve lacking enough money to eat or to pay the bills. Poverty often is the experience of viewing the affluent society.
Consider jewelry. A poor person, for lack of access, may covet gold or fine diamonds.
Here's a question: Are supposedly unbreakable diamonds all they're cracked up to be? Following is a short passage from the book Ad Nauseam, which examines the U.S. consumer mentality and in the process delves into the gaps between rich and poor:
"In the late 1800s, the Oppenheimer family established a diamond monopoly with its company, DuBeers. At the time, diamonds were practically worthless compared to other gems, but DuBeers set out to change that by limiting their supply, driving up the price.
"In the 1930s .... DuBeers turned its focus to marketing. The company gave Hollywood starlets hefty stones, arranged glamour photo shoots, and script-doctored movies to include scenes of jewelry shopping. .... And DuBeers visited high schools to teach girls about the value of diamonds.
"In 1947, DuBeers' ad agency came up with the massively successful slogan, '˜A diamond is forever,' which implied that diamonds don't crack, break, or lose value. They do, but it needn't have mattered. Thanks to clever marketing, the diamond came to symbolize true love and diamond rings became an inseparable part of courtship and marriage."
One might logically ask, if all this is true, why would a poor person care about jewelry? As they used to call it when we were young and in school: Peer pressure. Sad, but true.