The American government is throwing throwing more plastic on the fire of consumerism. In response to the frenzied terror the country is exhibiting at the looming recession is has already promised $150 BILLION dollars in tax rebates to families and businesses in the form of cash (BBC News). When governments return cash to citizens (although I believe the Bush government has dubbed the people consumers) the hope is that they will shop. The hope is that they will consume and, in turn, stimulate the economy. Is this a sustainable form of growth?
In all cycles the downturns have their place. This I can easily say while I am not in the position to lose a job or be unable to support a family. But this is the best they could come up with? First, continued consumption is redundant now in the USA (and countries like Canada and many European nations) with little in the way of needs being missing for most people. Consumption increases the waste/pollution produced by a very broken system.
Second, has it worked in the past? People started to consume after the war with America coming out as a world power and titan in trade and production. This benefited a massive portion of the population by raising their quality of life to middle class. Check one for shopping and production. The trade centres fell and Bush told the country to throw themselves further into debt, to shop, to stimulate the economy. Now the country is growing a hunch back from the weight of the debt from the war and ‘stimulated’ economy. No point for shopping here.
The only force the government of the people thinks it can muster any longer is the swipe of the collective credit card. Will buying lead covered toys made by poorly-paid workers in China be a long term solution? Maybe the money should go to producing more jobs in environmental protection. Maybe we should learn to live with drastically less material wealth with families back to living on one income (be that the man or the woman) because there is no pressure to buy the latest BMW or the highest definition TV. This is somewhat of a ramble. I get that. But there is little ground to gain for the North American middle class and the lower won’t benefit from any growth overall; promise. Gains from capitalism in this late form of the system go to corporate executives and lawyers.
Bring industry home. Produce in country and produce environmentally friendly products. Buy less. Maybe the US won’t drag us down with it.