7/5/06Meet the Minimum Needs of All, (MMNA), 2030:How Consumerism affects Society, the Economy and the Environment.
Consumerism is economically manifested in the chronic purchasing of new goods and services, with little attention to their true need, durability, product origin or the environmental consequences of manufacture and disposal. Consumerism is driven by huge sums spent on advertising designed to create both a desire to follow trends, and the resultant personal self-reward system based on acquisition. Materialism is one of the end results of consumerism.
Consumerism interferes with the workings of society by replacing the normal common sense desire for an adequate supply of life's necessities, community life, a stable family and healthy relationships with an artificial ongoing and insatiable quest for things and the money to buy them, with little regard for the true utility of what is bought. An intended consequence of this, promoted by those who profit from consumerism, is to accelerate the discarding of the old, either because of lack of durability or a change in fashion. Landfills fill with cheap discarded products that fail early and cannot be repaired. Products are made psychologically obsolete long before they actually wear out. A generation is growing up without knowing what quality goods are.
Friendship, family ties and personal autonomy are only promoted as a vehicle for gift giving and the rationale for the selection of communication services and personal acquisition. Everything becomes mediated through the spending of money on goods and services.
It is an often- stated catechism that the economy would improve if people just bought more things, bought more cars and spent more money. Financial resources better spent on Social Capital such as education, nutrition, housing etc. are spent on products of dubious value and little social return. In addition, the purchaser is robbed by the high price of new things, the cost of the credit to buy them, and the less obvious expenses such as, in the case of automobiles, increased registration, insurance, repair and maintenance costs.
Many consumers run out of room in their homes to store the things that they buy. A rapidly growing industry in America is that of self-storage. Thousands of acres of land are paved over every year to build these cities of orphaned and unwanted things so as to give people more room to house the new things that they are persuaded to buy. If these stored products were so essential in the first place, why do they need to be warehoused?
"You work in a job you hate, to buy stuff that you don't need, to impress people that you don't like."
'Consumerism' is well entrenched in human 'attachment for identity'; Over 25%, (1.7 billion, including about 240 million from China and 120 million from India), of the global population currently participate in it, (National Geographic News, Jan 12, 2004), while approximately 40% of the global population is assigned to live on less than $2 per day and called upon daily to sacrifice about 30,000 of their living. Who sanctioned this level of poverty? Can the First World population continue to plead 'innocent' stating we have little to do with the global political economy of our 'exclusion morality'?
In my opinion, if we withstand the distraction of 'consumerism' and refuse to participate in its call to waste human (time, energy, values, orientation, and creativity) wealth, then we would endeavor to 'Meet the Minimum Needs of All' through our spiritual concern to provide 'restorative justice' and ensure the welfare of those allotted to be poor by us
We would use our intellect and creativity to reshape our circumstances
to elicit 'inclusion morality' and develop the global geo-political leadership that would 'Meet the Minimum Needs of All.'
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau.
Those who take the most from the table
Those for whom the taxes are destined
Those who eat their fill
Speak to the hungry
Of the wonderful times to come, and
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult for ordinary men.