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The Power of Greed.  "How we spend our money is power too!
Consumerism is alive and thriving in our economies.  How many times have we read in business magazines or heard on business programs across this country that the consumer is the driving force behind our economy.  

Most economists estimate consumer spending as representing roughly two-thirds of GDP or Gross Domestic Product of the entire American economy.  If consumer spending drops it is portrayed as an ominous sign of economic trouble ahead.  Recession cannot be far behind.  When it ticks up it is conversely touted as a leading indicator that the recession may be ending.

Consumers are constantly receiving the message that a healthy economy depends on their spending.  Want more, buy more and spend more. We are conditioned into thinking that growth is always good. We are also told that low unemployment is dependent on consumer spending.  There must be a constant increase in demand if new jobs are to be created in sufficient numbers to absorb the new entrants constantly coming into the job market.

More people, more consumers, more products, more consumption, more growth, more job creation, more people, more consumers, more products, more consumption, more growth in an endless cycle of escalation.  In this endless circle the concept of conserving is completely lost.

Slick marketers entice us to buy, buy, buy everywhere we look and listen.  Buy for greater prestige, happiness, better looks, more convenience, or more time.  

Credit is pushed at every opportunity to allow you to enjoy the good life now and pay the price later.  Everywhere the message is pushed – Consumption is good for you, your neighbor, your country and for the world.

Virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum and coal and both are being consumed at an alarming rate.  Yet like ass-backward mad fossil fuel consumer drunks we are all living it up with little or no regard for the consequences of that consumption.  We waste fossil fuel up front in our production of all the consumer products we demand and we generate massive amounts of waste and put it into our environment on the way out.

Mr. Paul R. Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University.  He states the following regarding our consumerism and its impact on our planet.


"The United States poses the most serious threat of all to human life support systems. It has a gigantic population, the third largest on Earth, more than a quarter of a billion people. Americans are superconsumers, and use inefficient technologies to feed their appetites. Each, on average, uses 11 kW of energy, twice as much as the average Japanese, more than three times as much as the average Spaniard, and over 100 times as much as an average Bangladeshi. In all, humanity's high-energy activities amount to a large-scale attack on the integrity of Earth's ecosystems and the critical services they provide. These include control of the mix of gases in the atmosphere (and thus of the climate); running of the hydrologic cycle which brings us dependable flows of fresh water; generation and maintenance of fertile soils; disposal of wastes; recycling of the nutrients essential to agriculture and forestry; control of the vast majority of potential crop pests; pollination of many crops; provision of food from the sea; and maintenance of a vast genetic library from which humanity has already withdrawn the very basis of civilization in the form of crops and domestic animals."
So the next time you are in a shopping mall I ask you to walk into any store and examine the aisles and honestly ask yourself the following question:  How many of the products you see on the shelves really need to be produced?  Before you grab one of those products ask yourself if its purchase is a necessary one.

The point to realize is that  capitalism is a great clearinghouse to efficiently produce anything that can possibly be produced which someone can be convinced to buy and do it for the best price.  It is a terrible system to conserve anything. I think we need to start conserving for the health of ourselves, our environment and our economy!

Gross Domestic (GDP) - A measure of consumption.  The USA is the highest in the world!
Related articles

Paul Ehrlich, a prophet of global population doom who is gloomier than ever
Why We Can't Spend Our Way Back to Normal
The Psychology of Consumerism

The Church of the Holy Shitters will post articles on our holy S.H.I.T. day ( So Happy It's Thursday)  

Last week: 10/10/13 - Commandment #3 - A Closer Look

Next week:  10/24/13 - Commandment #4 - A Closer Look

Hoping to add some humor, provoke thought, spark debate,  deepen understanding, and shed some light on the fecal side.  

Remember:  "If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit." ( Shitbit by Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters)
Church of the Holy Shitters
Originally posted on

Originally posted to Holy $h*tters on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 12:05:12 PM PDT

  •  tipped / rec'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, Bronx59

    erlich has always been pretty good at saying / writing stuff that makes my head bounce up and down vigorously in agreement.

    our economic system, and the academic pursuits that keep it propped up, are well past their freshness date.

    we need basic fundamental stuff for survival (clean air, water, topsoil, etc.), and yet, according to the house of cards that is contemporary (western) economic thinking, we can't tell you what it's worth to maintain, say, a forested ecosystem, or an unsullied supply of groundwater.

    in fact, our system is such a piece of shit, captains of industry are rewarded with fattened profits for externalizing their costs of doing business, no matter if natural resources are ruined, or a cancer cluster pops up, or what have you.

    the very notion that our economy is 2/3 predicated upon transforming matter into unneeded crap that we buy (and likely discard) is insane.

    the good news is that it's a temporary matter. nature bats last.

    "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

    by homo neurotic on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 01:10:26 PM PDT

    •  Oh we certainly think alike. One of Erlich's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homo neurotic

      books "The Population Bomb" actually changed the trajectory of my life I think.  I'll be writing about our consumptive habits a lot in the incoming installments of Holy Shitters.  We've got to come to terms with the fact that consumption is the dissipation of wealth and not the creation of it.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  And yes nature will not not only bat last but it will win.  

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 01:30:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for following me. I went to your profile. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homo neurotic

      We have a lot of the same influences.  Watergate was one of my first political awareness events.  The first was serving in Vietnam.  Love the saxophone and trying to be an author.  Returned the follow.  I love the timeframe that we grew up.    

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 01:49:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have a bad case of 'competitive materialism' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, Bronx59, RiveroftheWest

    which is associated with the perception of social status

    (and is exploited by corporate branding) and not easily


    Note: the luxury culture is perhaps a sub-topic to the topic you address in this diary (mass consumerism) but is an important driver.

    Thank you for the diary.

    We've reached the point where we're unfazed by things that should shake us to the core. –Bill McKibben (Volva Award recipient)

    by ume on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 03:11:51 PM PDT

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