This is a blasphemous thought that goes through my head every time I drive by a nest of new McMansions that have seemingly sprung up overnight...
...or see them sprouting like some kind of poisonous mushrooms on the outskirts of quaint towns like Newton, New Jersey.
I’ve also thought it when I see teardown after teardown of perfectly good, smaller houses, which are being replaced by huge monstrosities that don’t fit with the neighborhood.
(Picture source: The National Trust. )
It occurs to me when I see the endless stream of malls and shopping centers, all full of places to buy, buy, buy – as they march up and down the highways, encroaching on the farmland and open spaces like some kind of aggressive cancer.
It is a thought that occurs to me as I am almost run down by a Hummer in a parking lot.
The idea has come to me when I read in the New York Times about people who MUST get their preschooler into the “right” preschool or else the child will never make it into the “right” college. And that every kid who is going to apply to college has to have expensive tutoring lessons to ace the SAT exams.
And it has certainly occurred to me when I see the Dow Jones at 14,000 – or even 11,000 – are these companies really worth so much more than the Dow Jones was worth 20 years ago, when it was at 2,000? (See chart below – isn’t there something wrong with this picture?) (source: Generational Dynamics)
Do we really need all this conspicuous consumption? Is it really good for our country? I don’t think it is.
We have become a society that doesn’t value anything old – if it’s old, throw it out and get a new one; if it’s old, tear it down and build a new one; if a person is old, they’re no longer a valuable resource or a potential marketing target, so they become invisible.
We have become a society that doesn’t value saving, but instead values instant gratification.
We have become a society that considers “buying” to be a patriotic duty.
So I often think to myself, “What this country needs is a good Depression.”
But I hadn’t really had the nerve to say it out loud, because it is conventional wisdom that a growing economy is generally a positive thing.
So imagine my delight when I looked at Nick’s blog and found he has the same idea. Finally I can say it out loud!
What this country needs is a good Depression!!!!
Nick’s point is that continued, capitalistic growth is using up resources at a huge rate and this growth is not sustainable.
Quoting from Earth Meanders, his post says:
“Economic growth is a deadly disease upon the Earth, with capitalism as its most virulent strain. Throw-away consumption and explosive population growth are made possible by using up fossil fuels and destroying ecosystems. Holiday shopping numbers are covered by media in the same breath as Arctic ice melt, ignoring their deep connection. Exponential economic growth destroys ecosystems and pushes the biosphere closer to failure.”
Nick’s hope is that this disaster can be prevented by an economic downturn:
“Economic collapse destroyed the Roman Empire, and the Nazis’ dream of global domination. I'm hopeful economic collapse will shrink the USA's addictions to consumerism, material wealth, and global destruction of nature's resources.”
Another aspect of the constant drive for more capitalist growth is the continued need for more and more resources, which results in poor political policies. These policies have led us to war in various locations and have resulted in our reputation suffering throughout the world, to say nothing of the millions of deaths that have occurred.
I urge you to go read the rest of his excellent post. I know no Presidential candidate could possibly win if they started speaking against Capitalism. But even if he or she is able to rein in the excesses we’ve seen in the past 8 years, it would be a start.