November 30, 2017 by John Crapper
Our economy insures that Consumerism is alive and thriving. How many times have we read in business magazines or heard on business programs across this country that the consumer is the driving force behind our economy. Most economists estimate consumer spending as representing roughly two-thirds of GDP or Gross Domestic Product of the entire American economy. If consumer spending drops it is portrayed as an ominous sign of economic trouble ahead. Recession cannot be far behind. When it ticks up it is conversely touted as a leading indicator that the recession may be ending.
Consumers are constantly receiving the message that a healthy economy depends on their spending. Want more, buy more and spend more. We are conditioned into thinking that growth is always good. We are also told that low unemployment is dependent on consumer spending. There must be a constant increase in demand if new jobs are to be created in sufficient numbers to absorb the new entrants constantly coming into the job market.
The Endless Circle of Consumption
More people, more consumers, more products, more consumption, more growth, more job creation, more people, more consumers, more products, more consumption, more growth in an endless circle of consumption.
In this endless circle the concept of conserving is completely lost. Slick marketers entice us to buy, buy, buy everywhere we look and listen. Buy for greater prestige, happiness, better looks, more convenience, or more time.
Credit is pushed at every opportunity to allow you to enjoy the good life now and pay the price later. Everywhere the message is pushed – Consumption is good for you, your neighbor, your country and for the world.
Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum and coal and both are being consumed at an alarming rate. Yet like ass-backward mad fossil fuel consumer drunks we are all living it up with little or no regard for the consequences of that consumption. We waste fossil fuel up front in our production of all the consumer products we demand and we generate massive amounts of waste and put it into our environment on the way out.
Mr. Paul R. Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. He states the following regarding our consumerism and its impact on our planet.
“The United States poses the most serious threat of all to human life support systems. It has a gigantic population, the third largest on Earth, more than a quarter of a billion people. Americans are superconsumers, and use inefficient technologies to feed their appetites. Each, on average, uses 11 kW of energy, twice as much as the average Japanese, more than three times as much as the average Spaniard, and over 100 times as much as an average Bangladeshi. In all, humanity’s high-energy activities amount to a large-scale attack on the integrity of Earth’s ecosystems and the critical services they provide. These include control of the mix of gases in the atmosphere (and thus of the climate); running of the hydrologic cycle which brings us dependable flows of fresh water; generation and maintenance of fertile soils; disposal of wastes; recycling of the nutrients essential to agriculture and forestry; control of the vast majority of potential crop pests; pollination of many crops; provision of food from the sea; and maintenance of a vast genetic library from which humanity has already withdrawn the very basis of civilization in the form of crops and domestic animals.” http://dieoff.org/…
So the next time you are in a shopping mall I ask you to walk into any store and examine the aisles and honestly ask yourself the following question: How many of the products you see on the shelves really need to be produced? Before you grab one of those products ask yourself if its purchase is a necessary one. The point to realize is that
capitalism is a great clearinghouse to efficiently produce anything that can possibly be produced which someone can be convinced to buy and do it for the best price. It is a terrible system to conserve anything.
I think we need to start conserving for the health of ourselves and our economy!
Please think about all of this as you do you holiday shopping this year!