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View Diary: A Brief History of Consumerism (34 comments)

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  •  Disagree (1+ / 0-)
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    plymouth

    Competition is remarkably hardwired. People want to stand out.  

    I confess I say this from an exclusively western reference point. It could be that there are other cultures were there is no struggle to be set apart for an individual talent.

    I concede also that "keeping up with the Joneses" is not per se human nature, but the consumerism expression of how you assert your success/achievement/worthiness.

    •  There's an interesting book. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RickBoston

      . . .available, called The Logic of Sufficiency.

      It's about examining our "dominant social organizing principles" (it's a pretty academic tome), and it covers the rise of consumerism, and the myth of "efficiency" as an unmitigated good.

      I guess one could argue that the reason people failed to constantly strive for more things and more money in earlier eras was just the oppressive social order. And certainly "envy" and "greed" and "covetousness" have been around since Biblical writers inveighed against them. But we've certainly reached new heights by enshrining them as proper and expected social behavior.

      When only the government lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.

      by Robespierrette on Thu May 04, 2006 at 09:06:06 AM PDT

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      •  Efficiency (0+ / 0-)

        and the myth of "efficiency" as an unmitigated good.

        I think that if we actually bring in ALL of the repercussions of an event or action and look at the true big-picture efficiency then, yes, efficiency is good. The problem is we DON'T look at it in a global sense - for example it may seem efficient to spray your crops with pesticides so that you produce more oranges per acre but if you look at the global effect of those pesticides in terms of how much they help vs how much they hurt by getting into the local water table, killing fish, killing helpful insects as well as "pests", killing the birds who try to eat the insects that have ingested pesticide... you'll realize that it wasn't very efficient afterall.

        conscientious objector in the battle of the sexes.

        by plymouth on Fri May 05, 2006 at 06:47:15 AM PDT

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        •  Yes! Have you read it? (0+ / 0-)

          He goes into a lot of detail about how efficiency ratios (which sound so scientific) are by their very nature political, since somebody has to decide which things to measure.

          Crop yield is a great example. Do you simply measure "bushels/acre"? Or do you look at bushels produced vs. lost topsoil, or vs. watershed harm?

          People can wrap their heads around a simple A:B ratio, so "efficiency" comparisons, by the very way they are laid out, leave out the complex system effects of the proposed courses of action.

          Just because a method produces more "efficient" results by one particular ratio in no way guarantees that it's "better" than another method.

          When only the government lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.

          by Robespierrette on Fri May 05, 2006 at 08:05:50 AM PDT

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