Sunday, November 30, 2008

The more we buy the better off we are?????

The celebration and advocacy of mass consumerism, the belief that the more we consume the better off we are, in this weekend's Suzanne Savill column is remarkable, particularly in these pretty unprecedented times of credit crunch, economic downturn, resource depletion and environmental degradation. The system, with its short-termist banking, sleeping regulators and politicians who have sucked-up and basked in the glow of short-term ‘success’, allows a small number of people to take the profit whilst society pays the costs. How is continued mass consumption going to solve the problem of meeting the needs of the worlds people in a way that can be sustained Suzanne?? If consumerism helped us to live happier, healthier, fairer, greener lives I’d be all for it but the opposite is the truth!

See: and this BBC report about a local economics graduate beginning an experiment to live for a year without money:


  1. Why worry? She's only a journalist... working within a context that's not known for giving much freedom of thought.

  2. Look Glenn, you’ve completely missed the point here. It’s not about consumerism as such, it’s about engaging with the economy. The whole focus of the last 30-40 years has been to get people to pay someone else to do the things they would otherwise do for themselves or replace an item that could otherwise be repaired. This is what our “economic growth” has been based on and significantly allows Gordo to tax it and then spend the fruits of our efforts on Trident, ID cards…..

    Why else do you think Gordo is opposed to reducing working hours? Heavens, it would allow us time to darn our own socks, grow our own food, repair the TV, washing machine, decorate the house, look after our own children….. and crumbs think about what’s going on. Blimey don’t want the masses thinking and asking questions do we?

    The worst culprits are the retired grumpy old farts, “mates favours” brigade who will swop jobs like plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting and decorating, servicing the car and the like and who have the audacity to help out their own children with babysitting.

  3. Well said weggis. The government naturally wishes to see economic activity taking place through the medium of overt monetary exchange which they can measure and tax. But historically much economic activity has been off the radar as far as government is concerned - family members caring, cleaning and cooking for each other, neighbours exchanging skills and goods, voluntary work to achieve community benefits, etc.

    None of us could function for long without engaging in what is essentially economic activity. But when money is used as a token to signify the relative values of different economic activities, to facilitate the exchange of the same, some of us feel that the economic activity then becomes sordid, especially if someone is perceived to have made a 'profit'.

  4. Forgive me Weggis but you seem to be saying something similar to me here - valuing economic activity in terms other than how much is consumed. The picture you paint of people doing things for themselves is hardly a society focussed on consumerism is it?? Its more about meeting needs.

    How much we consume is a critical consideration if we are to live our lives within environmental limits so I cant agree that 'Its not about consumerism...'.

  5. Who was it who said "Growth for growth's sake - the ideology of the cancer cell."?

  6. Glenn, I was being flippant.

    Chris, what’s wrong with profit?

    If I do a job for a mate as a favour he owes me. I am in credit and he is in debt. That is my profit. When he does a job for me [of equal value] I will have spent my profit and his debt is cancelled. Profit does not have to be measured in monetary terms but it does make it more flexible. At least I think that’s the idea.

    WW, there are parasites that kill their host and there are parasites that live in harmony with their host. We have a choice.

  7. Weggis, flippant? Tsk tsk.

    "None of us could function for long without engaging in what is essentially economic activity."

    Good news! You can if you're a breatharian!


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.