180228 Art buyer’s confidence
Consumer confidence is an index used in the context of the stock market in capitalist systems. In the ideal of the capitalist system – and I think it might be true in communist and socialist systems too – consumer confidence is based on hope.
I’m sitting in my art gallery, a near-perfect result of my lifelong hope I place in art and education and in my ability to participate in these.
Yet, less than three feet away from where I’m typing, a homeless man sleeps. He’s in the place on some mornings, even in freezing conditions, with only a blanket covering him. A doormat serves as his mattress on the concrete floor of the breezeway.
I have to be callous and inhuman to sit typing on a computer keyboard in a warm studio, Joan Baez’ song playing on Pandora about the poor and the broken hearted people of folk music themes. How can I stand it?
Sure, I could call a non-emergency number and in time a pair of officers would come and tell the man to move on. I described this situation on Facebook one time and suggestions came as to how I could converse with him and give him a list of places and times where the homeless go.
Actually I have talked to him. “At him,” I should say. He doesn’t speak. He has a kind of vacant look in his face, he gets up and wanders off without a word. Sometimes people put snacks, energy bars, coffee and money beside him, and he leaves it lying there.
Does he have hope? Do I have hope? I know myself, I know I am hopeful that homelessness can be ended but I know there are conditions that must be put in place first. Conditions must be initiated. In the capitalist, communist and socialist systems, the economics of society are the first conditions to be met.
In the ever-present ignorance of facts—scientific facts—economic conditions are as hard to learn as science. It’s easier to fall back on hope based on the ineffable spirit of humans. Ironically, science has made inroads on humans’ abilities to learn and apply sciences’ discoveries.
Those discoveries that are the most rewarding to humans are those which become popular and accepted by the majority. The majority rules, theoretically, in a democratic capitalistic society. The facts that have the most appeal, are the most entertaining and easy always win.
It is extremely difficult to talk to a homeless man who may have given up hope or who lacks consciousness that someone is speaking to him or offers him an energy bar. From what I have seen in documentaries and written accounts, even a place to live is difficult to accept for a homeless person.
Confidence in a system that purports to address the homeless person’s needs but supports a corrupt government at the “very top” suffers. What good would it do to stop working in my gallery and give my entire day to working with this man for his good? Here is where “consumer confidence” comes to the front of my thoughts.
This is because I recently “sold” an artwork for a partial payment of $2,000. My reactions puzzled me. I should have been happy, but instead I felt confusion. The buyer has confidence—consumer confidence of a kind all artists welcome as they practice their art and craft. A musician practices as his or her confidence in consumers—and the consumers’ confidence flourishes that they will by enjoying music.
I am listening to music via the Internet. I’m confidence that I will be able to do so tomorrow, too. If there were a way consumers could be confidence that the homeless among us will find homes, they would invest in this hope, would they not?
No, they would not because at bottom the typical consumer who, given the choice of spending $100 to begin a year-long program to “fix” a homeless person or, another choice, to spend $100 on a dinner for two, will spend the money on dinner every time.
I come back to my latest art sale and think about this buyer’s confidence—parting with thousands of dollars for an artwork. Their confidence in something soars! What is it? That the artwork will be part of the interior of their home? I warned, when they offered to buy the work, “No, it’s too large, difficult to move, and somewhat fragile without a frame.”
“I like it without a frame,” was the response. The next day a check arrived in the mail.
The day after that, I bought shares in a mutual fund.
The next day the market fell; it fell again the next week because the Fed is considering raising the interest rate.