Consumption - Western Economic Madness?

Read over the weekend:

The Earth just isn’t getting any healthier. How could it? The one single and abiding criterion by which the success of countries is judged is in terms of their ‘growth’.

Each year the great nations agonize over how much they have ‘grown’. How much more they have made, how much more they have consumed.
Consumer confidence is actually considered a measure of a country’s relative economic strength. When a load of poor deluded sad-acts are down at the shops running up debts on their credit cards, finance ministers claim that the economy is ‘growing’ and start celebrating. Recessions are deemed to be over the moment people start spending money which they don’t have, on things that they don’t need.

Consumption is synonymous with ‘growth’ and growth is good. It is always good, whenever and wherever. Hence, clearly consumption is good, all consumption, anywhere, anytime. Judged by the logic of world economics, the death of the planet will be the zenith of human achievement, because if consumption is always good, then to consume a whole planet must be the best thing of all. :idea:
I am an avid consumer and all three of my cars are gas guzzling planet destroyers…

Greed is good! :D
I've had similar thoughts myself. Especially when the credit crunch kicked in... selling houses between ourselves at ever inflated prices, or banks doing the same with CDO's and the like is just an illusion of growth, as we're finding out.

At the moment, growth is required not least because thats how we fund our pension schemes... with population change it won't be long until the minority of workers support the majority of non-workers (children and elderly).

I think the human race should be aiming at 'steady state'... it would seem to be the only long term sustainable option!
TopBadger said:
I think the human race should be aiming at 'steady state'... it would seem to be the only long term sustainable option!
There was a film that suggested that a 1970's job loads of women not much clothing. Where once you reached 30 or 40 you were deemed past your best and euthanised.

Could it be a case of fiction foretelling the future.
I think it all really rather depends on how growth us defined. If you mean more things are physically consumed, then I can see your Malthusian point.

However, this would fall into the (in my view, mistaken) view that economics is 'zero-sum'. Creating value has limitless possibilities and does not necessarily require the consumption of every natural resource.

The quest to create value is the driving force of both personal reward and collective betterment. Without it we would be without modern agriculture, shelter, transport or art.

If we as a species accept 'steady-state' then we condemn ourselves to a dreary and unfulfilled future until, if we're lucky, the sun burns out in a few billion years and the Earth returns to dust. That's if we're not killed off by some super-evolved bacteria or asteroid strike in the mean-time......Maybe continued scientific research isn't such a bad thing after all, eh?
Once the developping world catches up with the West, their population will plateau like ours has. Maybe then we'll be forced to look at a sustainable existence. Until then, reap the benefits of cheap Chinese peasent labour - affordable consumer rubbish. In any case, your great-grandchildren will be the ones to sort things out.
Consumption ...."The Earth just isn't getting any healthier......"

Half way through the initiator's post before I realised that he was not writing about Tuberculosis!
TopBadger said:
I think the human race should be aiming at 'steady state'... it would seem to be the only long term sustainable option!
Bollox, as fast as you can for as long as you can is the only way ahead. Man kind, just the same as the animal world, was designed to live on a mentality of Survival-of-the-Fittest.

In fact, last night I watched a re-run of the latest David Attenborough series and in it, the largest mammal in the sea, the whale, enticed her male partners into battle so that only the strongest male would be the one to give her the good news. Thus ensuring that she receives the sperm from the strongest male. However, if Nu Labour also governed the seas, the whale's world would be ruined by Labours desire to make all things equal. So instead of having a mere handful of shite things, everything would have to be shite.

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