The economics of consumerism

I always wondered the logic of President Obama’s economic stimulus package. It was based on restoring confidence. And confidence (whether Obama meant that or not) is measured by the people consuming more. Every Christmas, for example, the economy is measured by the amount people spend in stores. And this is becoming a measure of economic resurgence all over the world, In India for example, the increasing number of automobiles sold is touted as measure of an economy that is surging ahead.
But isn’t excessive consumerism the one basic problem facing the planet ? And the fundamental problem with the US economy is also that it’s model has to be driven by increasing consumerism (aside from trade in military hardware) that cannot be accelerated beyond a certain point ? How then can ‘consumer confidence’ be a measure or a long term solution of the fundamental problems facing us. How does it help that China and the US have become co- dependant on each other, fundamentally doing the same things. Driving each others consumerism
Please, it you have not already, watch this video :

17 thoughts on “The economics of consumerism

  1. and you know shekhar and HOBO, there are legal cases against God instead of System. The person who has filed the suite against the god has the opnion that god alone is responsible for creating floods, earthquakes, tsunami etc (thanks to that gentleman who has excluded war from the list) and further he also says god is also responsible for giving death to the people interms of accidents, diseases, born physical limitations etc and further he adds that thus how god becomes responsible for wastages of natural resources (human and other materail). I appreciate that the judiciary has listened to him but the problem they are facing is to whome they should send the warrant..almighty is invisible..sorry for the deviation.. 🙂
    The real problem is we all now know the reason for diabetes (reason for diabetes is attraction of sugar and eating excessive sugar than your body requirement) but have we really taken any steps.. no..instead we superimpose restriction of sugar on nondiabetics, as a prevention, to which these nondiabetics listens with weak ears. And for diabetics we suggests ‘sugar free sugar’..instead working on their ‘attraction of sugar’ otherwise to these diabetics we suggest to change(downgrade) the life style.
    upgradation(change everybodys body structure) or downgradation(change the life style) of one mans life or few men life is not going to stop diabetes. whatever you decide to adopt that should happen universally..
    thanks and take care..subodh

  2. There is no going back now.
    untill we stop letting companies like apple and sony decide how we want to enjoy music.

  3. Economy is at its worst, Let it be Beverly Hills or Palo Alto or Bay Area
    Pls be careful until 2012 maybe 2013
    May I remind what was said in 11-20-2007, 09:11 PM
    Last edited; 11-20-2007 at 09:15 PM.
    USA heading for Major Slow Down – Reality
    What went wrong this Year ?
    This X-MAS will be snow cold…
    Stores trying to sell but not enough buyers,
    some are planning close or move to different countries.
    Don’t be surprised by this.
    Its meant that way, the law of nature.
    Major companies are researching outside USA to increase business and cut costs.

  4. Hello Shekhar:
    If we are trying to stop the ever faster turning wheel of consumerism a myriad of problems will occur, none of which are desirable. By giving capitalism our nod we have created our own waterloo, our own inescapable destiny. The only thing that may have been wrong with President Obama’s stimulus package was its size. It may have been too small. If we are trying to stop this economic wheel altogether there will be a collapse of epic and apocalyptic proportions. Deliberately slowing it down in the face of a depression requires a new calibration of our societies’ willingness to suffer and to accept daring and radical concepts all of which have unpleasant companions, such as massive unemployment, the closing of businesses on a scale hitherto unheard of, homelessness caused by the loss of homes of the middle class with their equity going up in smoke. At the end of that bitter road would be anarchy.
    “The story of stuff” is brilliantly made and shows us the consequences of the insanity of consumerism gone out of control. What it does not show is a remedy, one that walks the fine line of what is doable and sustainable, one that takes the perilous condition of our planet into account and the need to avoid a cataclysm and at the same time to survive without throwing all the sophisticated mechanisms of a modern world economy into disarray.
    New philosophies in the face of our planet’s desperate problems will have to come into play, the leaders of societies must show courage and audacity to silence the apostles of deception in their midst. I dare say that Barack Obama represents our best hope, still. To snipe at him from the fringes of the right and yes, the left by unsavory ideologues trying to drive home their pathetically narrow agendas will detract from the need to start a new, radically altered thinking process.
    I wouldn’t dare wager how all this will end and the optimist in me has a hard time to drown out the urging whispers of the pessimist.
    Best regards.

  5. Hi,
    my previous comment should be considered only for threat of global warming, green house emmision and our present fast life style and comsumption of natural resources,raw food for preparing fast food industry etc
    thanks and take care..subodh

  6. Stimulus was given to restore confidence in the business circle, specially to investors and bankers.
    After few days, they just started calling ‘confidence’ for short; therefore confusing the world with ‘consumer confidence’.
    ‘Consumer confidence’ is measured in US by tracking 500 odd households spending and that periodically peaks twice a year, once in summer and once as you rightly mentioned in holiday season (thanksgiving to Xmas).
    ‘Consumer confidence’ however has not picked up due to high unemployment in US. real unemployment in US is in high-teens and not 9.9%. Reason: people who are out of work for more than 12 months or people not approaching for assistance are not accounted for.

  7. From the ‘economics of consumerism’ to the ‘economics of happiness’ – isn’t that what the world really should be economizing about? Could anybody have imagined that a little Himalayan kingdom would blaze the trail on measures of true progress? [Old write-up but] worth a read:
    Sure, Bhutan may not have the latest and greatest in the world, but there is something to learn, and lessons to imbibe from their leadership’s views on progress and development and metrics for such. And that is integrating into economic planning and policy, measures that REALLY MATTER to people and the planet. And sure enough, countries are looking at this more seriously today than ever before.
    As the ‘story of stuff’ is being told in rest of the world, Bhutan stands firm and tall, cautiously welcoming winds of change…yet rooted and grounded by their belief systems, cultural and spiritual values (which will hopefully not suck them into the abyss of excessive consumerism and degenerate its society to an over-consumptive one). After all, unless you get outside the circle, you can’t appreciate how beautifully round (or broken! as the case may be) your own circle is. And for Bhutan it certainly is a delicate balance between the dark side of capitalism and brighter side of protectionism.
    If all this spin around economics is spinning your head, just sit back and listen to this. And then get back up to assess YOUR ‘gross consumption’ and ‘gross happiness’ 🙂

  8. (1)In between of tall trees and bush greenery a beautiful and plush wooden house is situated which is surprisingly functioning automatically (self powered) by machinery also build by wood. In this house which is situated on a bush green small island which is surrounded from the sprawling infinite Ocean, only 3 people lives, One man who is busy in cutting wood, inside the house his wife is probably cooking something really tasty & their only son climbedon a high tree, he is arranging moving egg of a bird which is being on the edge of the nest & touching the eggs surprisingly and putting there in the center of the nest. Suddenly the mother bird come & starts hitting the boy from back. Bird hit close to the eye & he falls down from 100 feet height. he lie down for some time and move to his father in such a way that nothing happened. the monkeys sitting close to his father carefully watching him working on that wooden things, get up and starts following the boy on a single call seem like that he is the leader of group of monkeys.
    (2)This story is based on a boy and a small, alone and undiscovered island which is surrounded an unfathomable sea. The boy had never seen any human being except his mother & father. The boy has nothing to do except talking allot & playing with the animals. His questions were endless. His father reminds that night and tells that when their ship was sinking in the sea the tides float him on this faraway island in unconscious condition. When eyes opened a green but scary mountain appears like the most dangerous area of the world. The island so faraway and undiscovered that not even one airplanes fly above its sky. After 2 days he met a girl she also traveling on the same ship & brought on the island same as him. Now they letter starts civilizing there own world on that island & turn it into a heaven. The automatic machines which are working without any fuel appears like the sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. These designs was offcourse unprofessional but functioning very fine. it reflects one morning when some monkeys are sitting on a hill and working on an ordinary but automatic engineering arrangement which is big wooden wheels and small baskets hanged on ropes, monkeys use to get fruits from tree put in basket, when basket get filled they remove the hold & it starts moving on the rope gravitationally to the kitchen and dump fruits on the table in the same time the empty basket reaches to the hill top. Ceiling fan running through wind mills, a mechanical trolley running through a combination of big wind mills which was used to carry family members top of the mountain from their house. All of these were build within a year.
    (3) He also tells that how after the birth of a beautiful son their life is filled with joy and happiness. Suddenly a trouble takes place; they had faced such a dangerous guy. It was almost impossible of getting rid of him. Under this time full of fear & thrill, the only thing which works was courage & power of child’s mother. After getting a strugglefull win everything got on the right track. There was a daughtfull question which the parents considered so late which bound them to give a turn to his education. The parents were bound to teach their child about the world across the sea. They have to teach him about all the things machines, social activities etc. It was strange that why should they enhance his Imaginative minds impatience to things of the outer world which they cannot reach or even think about it like cars, airplanes, ships, machineries, TVs, Video, Refrigerator, AC, Camera, schools, Clubs, Doctor etc seems meaningless.
    (4) But the future is unfortunate and if the time come to face the outer world it was important to tell each and everything about the outer world. So that the differentiating distance can be ignored and they were working on it. There is a fear also that he could be remain alone further. And suddenly that fear comes true. Once upon a day the boy saw a UFO (unidentified flying object) crashing he rush to his father ask them about the UFO, both his mom & dad get surprised they all went to search for the crashing object and what they saw a beautiful 20-20 years old girl is lying there unconscious. The parents of the boy saw any other human being after 22 years. But the boy had seen such a creature first time in his life which was so beautiful. The boy who uses to dream about the world across the sea was surprised after knowing that the outer world had moved forward about 20 years in terms of modernization.
    (4)The boy asks the girl to go & see the outer world with her the boy gets depressed when he realize that the only medium do means of carrying them to other side that was the electrically generated antigravity through which that UFO type aircraft runs Is no more in condition of flying because his father was working in it for a long time to know about it. After loosing the aircraft it seems impossible for the boy to reach to outer world as well as for the girl too. After some days the girl’s father reaches the island searching his daughter.
    (5)Ending of unknowingness & loneliness to go to their city which has been changed and modernized 20 years, father meeting his enemy after 20 years and defeating him in unexpected boxing, Making their island a tourist spot and furnished it with all the luxury & comfort, starting their 3rd stage of life as a owner of that island, enjoying all those luxuries by the every of which he use to dream all the time etc.
    The whole thing is that it is a film which gives a good feeling.
    In above 5 paragraphs is a Detailed Synopsis
    All the mechanism I wrote in the synopsis and in the complete script are really practical, I have all the sketches about.. that demand special effects or physically wood work (by expert carpenters)
    The main script is in about 250 pages.. Without exaggeration all the scans are really thrilling and exciting, this kind of film will be first time in India or even in Hollywood also.
    I want to send it to you.

  9. @Horst Vollmann
    Dear Mr. Vollmann,
    I was perhaps the best Obama supporter in India. Posting his praises in every possible forum, in spite of getting flak from many independents. But I think the man has serious knowledge problem on many fronts including economics.
    Obama’s stimulus package was a natural succession to Paulson’s bank bailout, it was never construed in a way that would help ordinary american.
    He promised to take action against banks, who wont pass the benefits to SMB’s (what we call SME in India). They have n’t and He is yet take any action.
    All these stimuli has done is to restore faith in high prices of stock and commodity market. So Manhattan will be happy with Obama but not Michigan or even Illinois.
    His healthcare bill is not even 1% of what he used to say in his election speeches, it won’t even be implemented in totality in next 10 years.
    Horst, it is good to know that you are still optimistic about Obama, but mine and I dare say most of US middle classes patience has ran out.
    Greatest hope for US and rest of the world is that people are turning away from big banks and doing small savings.

  10. Well, his usage of the famous phrase – “putting lipstick on a pig” – against Palin now come back to haunt Obama. That is exactly what he is doing. But he is still one of the better and well-intended leaders that the US has seen in a while.
    And there is only so much he can do with this crippled system that is masquerading as a democracy. The deep contempt of the racist and primitive right-wing is fueled by their paranoia and animal-like survival instincts..which will continue to paralyze any “real” changes attempted by the progressives and sophisticated sections of this society.
    All said and done, at the end of the day, the solution, if any, to all this, is to increase the sattva qualities in the collective consciousness. When the pure sattva rises, all solutions – and the strength to implement them – come automatically to one’s mind. The alcoholic, drug-addicted, lust-driven and meat-eating people do not have the clarity or integrity to put 2 and 2 expecting huge, far-sighted changes is delving into fantasy.
    That is why in the golden ages of India, the Brahmins – known for their highly sattvic qualities and disciplined, selfless lifestyles – were leading the society. You need to focus power and control on such a group of advanced souls. All this democracy, communism and recent pseudo-intellectual feel-good hogwash are only fuel for the fire. Capitalism, when in the hands of a deluded lot, will obvioulsy become a great expression of human greed.

  11. Hello Shuvankar,
    we could argue back and forth until our keyboards become chafed. To assert that B.O. has deficits in understanding the intricacies of economics is assigning him the intellectual status of G.W. Bush. Had the obstructionist machinery of the Republican Party not been running in high gear trying to dilute and sabotage every legislative proposal this new President presented – rendering them unrecognizable from their original meaning – these proposals would indeed have helped the ordinary American. His choices were limited, he had to act quickly and accept compromises that he knew would diminish his standing with the scrutiny of history.
    The party of No has helped to transmute the original concept of a healthcare bill into a washed down version filled with compromises and concessions. Yet it beats no bill in spades.
    Time will be the final arbiter of Barack Obama’s legacy. I think there has been a vicious campaign against this President from the day he first set foot in the Oval Office, a campaign off innuendo, lies and fear-mongering, all in the knowledge that the gullibility of large segments of the U.S. population will take the bait. The midterm election may very well tip the scale in favor of those forces and it will be back to deja vu. Sad, no doubt about it.

  12. Has anyone noticed the vulgar public claims coming out from the IPL camp on $4.13B valuation,and them beating recession. Another conglomerate of greedy capitalists milking the Indian mind now and how.
    The Indian mind too has gravitated into the morass of overconsumption much faster than one would have ever imagined.

  13. “The alcoholic, drug-addicted, lust-driven and meat-eating people do not have the clarity or integrity to put 2 and 2 together”

    It is counter productive to insult anyone in this issue. You think these people are stupid because they don’t agree with your ideals. How people conduct their lives cannot be judged upon, for this is subjective and has produced most wars. It is how the earth is being treated as an end result which we should be concerned with. Rich, powerful people have always been part of the World. We have to work within those bounds. Things like population control, technology that makes more efficient use of our resources and education are our best tools.

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