Sunday, September 6, 2015


     When you go into major supermarket, most shelves are arranged according to a “Plan-O-Gram” which is a lay-out. Positions of “influence” on each shelf facing – meaning those from which the highest volume of products are sold, usually at “child eye level” from the shopping cart – are sold to the highest bidding company. Usually these positions are purchased as part of an ad campaign. Kids and parents see an ad on TV, then “lo and behold” when they go into the store, there is the product so the kids ask, cry, demand them; parents buy them.
     The same is true for other sections of the store: frozen foods, breads, chips, soda, etc. – positioning is significant for behavior.  It’s called “Choice Architecture” and manipulating its factors is the backbone of advertising.
     And, it goes further. Choice Architecture, based on outcomes to choices someone else wishes you to make, are a factor in many, many things in our lives which you take for granted: video production, product design, internet, city planning (zoning), heroin accessibility, voting districts (gerrymandering), my family’s history, a legal system which enforces laws of privilege, grocery retail, military, food products, health care, genetics, casino gaming, cancer, dating and environmentalism – not to mention architecture from which it draws its name.
     Unfortunately, forces and groups are our “Choice Architects” and we live with the choices which they design for us and with the eventual results of the choices they have made for us. Many times our choices make them rich, so they are happy.

     Let’s presume that your “lower self” is the one in the shopping cart which your “higher self” is pushing through the Choice Architecture Complex 1, 2 or 3, or more of your life.
     Is our life only to be lived as “a chooser” (opposite of “decider” as George W. Bush once said) for our limited, pre-ordained options offered by the architects? When Totalitarianism arises, you see that choices are extremely narrowed to options offered only by the State-run enterprises. Fascism only offers options to industries who do the State’s bidding and carry out contracts granted by the State. In these examples, the domination is powerful, but it does not last forever. Dominating capitalistic economic “Choice Architecture”, which we saw in the early 1800s, has the same flaw.
     You may think that whichever of these systems you live under can or will not change. Consumers, cities and states may feel powerless now. Life, however, is based on spiritual / physical cycles. Things can, and do, change. Regularly. It’s part of the cycle. Things grow, mature, decline and change.
When things get most fixed, most intense then a phenomena called “antimony” occurs. When a factor – or form of domination of one kind or another - reaches its “maximum” - it will collapse back into its opposite. This is when a revolution happens, or laws are changed to bring other ideals into play such as competition or freedom. Many examples of antimony are in nature, and in society.
     An “oil boom” with accelerating prices, great demand, extreme capitalistic greed, etc. will lead to an “oil bust” because of some factor perhaps unrelated. I remember Dallas, Texas in the 80s where I saw the bumper sticker: “Oh, Lord! Give me another Oil Boom – I promise I won’t piss it away!”
     How many stories are there of highly successful people who have lost it all for one reason or another (internal or external)?  How many men who I have taught in our local jail recount tales of great lives, happy families – which they have lost, one way or another, through addiction?
Antimony - good, or the bad, will collapse into its opposite. That’s an eventual factor in Choice Architecture. Even genocide will be overcome by the world’s conscience.

It is possible to re-model your life, contemplate the choices you assume you must make. Re-think the decisions and examine the architecture behind the choice which led to your choice. There are choices between the big retailers and the small. There are major brands and local. What is offered on television and local theatre.
Do not misunderstand!  Mall and local may not be best.There is not one way of being which is better or protects you! Perhaps the best surgeon at the largest hospital in your half of the country, with years of experience, in exactly your critical illness, is exactly what you need to save your life. But, Choice Architecture might be telling you that the regional hospital has been “voted best” by local residents.  O-k-a-a-y.
The point is, we should study the Choice Architecture around us. Learn why you are making your decision. You create the Plan-O-Gram for your life.  Oh, and by the way, you may decide you choose to change yourself so that the old Plan-O-Gram doesn’t apply and you decide an entirely new set of choices are required. Maybe choices less about the material world and more about values and ideals – spiritual components. Believe me, that is possible, too.

© Copyright 2015, Jean w. Yeager
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