If I were a subscriber to the "there's a reason for everything" philosophy, I would be deeply pondering the reason why I just spent $22.99 (USD + 8.5% sales tax) for twelve razor blades. Twelve small bits of metal and molded plastic.
I think the most likely reason is that the packaging has the words Gillette and Mach3 emblazoned upon it, words as ubiquitous and grave as one of the ten commandments. Shaving-related words that really should have no place on articles other than a package of razor blades, but words which are inescapable, nevertheless.
Living in America, as I do, these words taunt me from the side of a bus as I'm walking downtown; they jump out from behind hockey players on ESPN; they stare unflinchingly at me from the front of my shopping cart as I push it down the isles of my local Sav-A-Center.
I seem to be paying exorbitant amounts of money to large corporations so they can produce more and more methods to make their products unforgettable to those who purchase them, as well as everyone who doesn't. With food and hygiene items, we have no real choice, as in most cases the store brand is mediocre, at best, but then I suppose that's why it is drastically less expensive. That and no advertising.
With almost everything else -- clothing, cars, services, medication, and luxury items like cigarettes and video rentals -- unless you're one of the untold millions who feels compelled to pay $20 (USD) more for a t-shirt because the front of it reads NIKE, then you have a choice. You can buy unpopular brands, auto makes, drugs and cheap cigarettes, or you can perform whatever service you need yourself, such as fixing that pesky kitchen faucet that won't stop leaking.
I've had friends vacation in Europe, and always, when I see the pictures from their trips, the pictures taken in cities more often than not have a blurry Burger King or Pizza Hut logo lurking in the background.
We are the sum of what we consume, if only because we cannot get away from it.
The only solution I can think of is to move to the African Bush, or Mongolia, or maybe the sub-Antarctic island of Bouvetoya. Given the omnipresent über-products that assail us day and night are a product of capitalism (see The American Way), and the only alternatives I can think of are to move to extremely isolated, "uncultured" corners of the earth; perhaps they are a necessary evil, just like another American institution -- the electoral college.
All apologies to socalists, communists, monarchists, anarchists, et al.