For many years, environmentalists have been criticizing Americans for consuming too much.  We were a wasteful “consumerist” society, and they wanted people to learn to live with less.  The Obama administration is clearly sympathetic to viro ideology — his appointments and the cap-and-trade provisions in his budget proposal make that clear.  But the administration is also telling us that the current economic crisis is caused in part by a lack of consumer spending — i.e. by people consuming less.  In other words, consuming less is simultaneously a moral imperative and is contributing to a practical disaster.

I sense inconsistency.   I wonder what Obama’s viro supporters think of the so-called stimulus package?

6 Responses to “Today's Random Thought”
  1. Oscar Cwajbaum says:

    If the stimulus package encourages people to start spending money on services and non-physical goods (e.g. software, music), the economy will improve without a huge increase in resource consumption, so the two are not contradictory.

  2. Kevin McAllister says:

    But they don’t think of it.

    Also unfortunately for Oscar, the non-physical goods panacea won’t work either, as a boom in non-physical goods will cause a boom in physical people changing jobs from the wasteful and evil physical practices such as farming, construction, and toy making to create them. As the non-physical goods makers have physical needs in order to produce them they will have to consume an increasing amount resources, such as Apple Cinema displays, wireless mice and gallons of Red Bull. Also the software and music will be of little use to the properly encouraged stimulaters without the means to physically express the non-physical goods salient qualities, as such they will need more iPhones and Dell minis.

  3. John McVey says:

    The sense of inconsistency could be eliminated if there’s a sense of the change in *composition* of consumption being a more important consideration than the totality of consumption by itself. Total consumption is pushed down by means of reducing consumption by higher income earners, leaving consumption by others largely intact.

    I see that all the time in the whole rationing thing, especially for water. Everyone wants less water use, but will simultaneously fight tooth and nail against price increases. I get the sense that they don’t want to use prices because “the rich can easily afford it while the poor have to buy less” blah blah blah. If direct rationing is used, total consumption can come down without jacking up prices too much, by means of curtailing the “profligate” use by middle and upper income earners and leaving usages + expenditures by lower income earners untouched. Of course, that could also be a part of that whole frog-boiling thing, too.


  4. merwin haight jr says:

    wow today you arew bang one!! only a tree hugger would save a tree and complain about the lack of sawdust for sale!!!

  5. Abbadon says:

    Except that physical goods go hand-in-hand with the services Oscar describes.


  6. Kyle Haight says:

    Also, the ‘stimulus’ has substantial infrastructure spending in it. Infrastructure is physical. I recall a lot of talk about “shovel-ready” projects, too, which also sound pretty physical.

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