The Future of Consumption: Part II

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To: consumerforum@motherjones.com
From: eric_umansky

Bill, it’s comparatively easy to decide on your own to use less (the “to each their own” model). But it seems to me that potentially avoids having to answer some tougher questions. What happens if people don’t follow your own path to voluntary reduction in consumption?

If reducing consumption is that important—if hyperconsumption doesn’t just reduce the happiness of person who buys too much stuff but also has negative repercussions for society in general—then shouldn’t we try and come up with some policies that can help us move away from hyperconsumption as a society?

I mean, that’s one of the reasons we have a government. You have to pay taxes. You can’t physically attack people; you can’t dump toxic chemicals; in some cities, recycling is required. All because sometimes constraints are put the individual in order that society on the whole might benefit (or at least not be harmed). If hyperconsumption really is leading us down a road to disaster (and “represents our deepest problem,” as Bill says in his article), then wouldn’t we need something stronger than a voluntary effort?

God only knows what those policies look like. Any ideas or suggestions?

Bill, is skiing that close for you? Impressive.

 

To: consumerforum@motherjones.com
From: bill_mckibben

Should the government get involved to force such changes? I don’t even think it’s a question. The moment a democratic government could rouse itself to do such a thing would be the moment it was no longer necessary—the moment when a substantial majority of us had decided to do something slightly different with our lives.

As for skiing nearby—it’s right out the door, provided you’re willing to break trail. Of course there’s no store, bar, theater, health club, or bagel bakery anywhere in the vicinity (all of which makes reducing consumption somewhat easier).

The Forum Part II: Searching for Solutions 1 2 3 4

The Forum Part I: Defining the Problem

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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