Adbusters #85: Thought Control in Economics

Buy This Magazine

85cover_tRead it – thoroughly – and then pass it on to another. Adbusters has endorsed the steady state economic before, quoting Herman Daly and citing the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy as well – but this is a full, cover-to-cover issue on the growing movement for a new, sustainable economy.

In this very well written, collaborative issue everything is tackled: from natural capital to your place in the revolution. Written in part as a guide to creating a movement, as well as a call to economic students everywhere, this is by far one of the best attention-getting new-economic publications I have seen so far. (Also, economic students can receive a free issue here)

Instead of drab, theoretical and college-level pamphlets or briefs this latest issue of Adbusters is that will smack you in the face. Hopefully we can use it to wake some of those neoclassical thinkers up. I particularly enjoy the simple, straight-forward means by which they show in the first section why growth is hurting us and our planet.

I urge you to buy this magazine, or borrow it, or get it from your library!

Are We Hardwired To Be Greedy?

Hardwired Into Our Brain
Hardwired Into Our Brain

New Scientist this week features an article casting money as a psychologically-rooted instrument. It may be a tool in the market to trade for goods, but it can be perceived by our minds as something with deeper significance and even activate the same centers of the brain as addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.

We have long associated money as the “root of all evil,” but perhaps it is more accurately a source for bad behavior. In the article, author Mark Buchanan explores the recent studies done in the fields of marketing, anthropology, and psychology showing an interesting trend linking money with narcissistic and competitive behavior. Of course, this might not be news to you. Turns out some of us are predisposed to this type of behavior, while others are inclined to treat money as an friend rather than a drug or compulsion.

Continue reading “Are We Hardwired To Be Greedy?”

New Parenthood Without Consumerism

Babies have simple needs

Any day now I will be changed in one of the most dramatic ways a person can be; changed by the birth of my first child. While we were at our midwife’s clinic yesterday I found myself flipping through a copy of Pregnancy magazine.

While it is fair to say this periodical is not in my typical reading repertoire, I did see an article that caught my steady-state-oriented mind, “How many activity mats does a baby really need?” by Pamela Paul. In a magazine with pages of ads and articles mostly written about what to buy, it was relieving to see an attempt to tell you not to buy.

Continue reading “New Parenthood Without Consumerism”

Quaker says “Go Humans Go”?

Quaker Billboard
Quaker Billboard

I can’t help but think that it is an oddly ironic slogan to appear in an economic crisis. Is the Quaker Oatmeal guy trying to give us some socioeconomic encouragement? Is he trying to tell us to “get back into the game” and buy/consume more?

We all could use a cheerleader from time to time, right? When times get tough it’s nice to have someone on our side to rally us  “into the game.” As time gets tough economically, who better than the Quaker Oatmeal guy, right?

Continue reading “Quaker says “Go Humans Go”?”

Christmas: The Season of Consumption

To believe that Christ intended us to buy things for the sake of giving things is a bit of a stretch. And to believe that it is an “American tradition” is to not be educated in history. Our nation was without any holidays for the first 67 years of it’s existence. And to think that we were founded as a christian nation is also a falsity. Our founding fathers were mostly deists, or in the case of Thomas Jefferson re-writing the new testament to exclude all miracles.

The formation of a nation built for religious freedom and separation of church and state would have definitely included the decision of making a national holiday that favors one religion over others. But, I digress…

Our desire to celebrate what is to many a sacred time of year with the wasteful consumption that insures the continuation of economic bloating is a slap in the face to the very meaning of the holiday. It invades our desire to spread good by making us believe we can only do good is by buying stuff and things. Yes! Magazine did a wonderful article about having a Christmas with No Presents.

I propose we start donating time to those who need it, donating money to the needy, donating food to the homeless. Give your kids the gift of seeing someone disadvantaged being helped. Bring them to a soup kitchen. I challenge all of us to actually spread good will in this time as we so often feel we’re doing by giving useless, expensive things.

Citizen or Consumer?

I have often asked myself if the growth-centered economy is really the best thing for the world. Recently I began to do a little light reading on the subject of a steady-state economy. I have come to believe that this is the only sustainable economy we can have if we wish to have any economy at all into the foreseeable future.

In fact, we have already begun to see the drastic devastation greed-oriented, growth-centered capitalism can give to the world: the natural destruction done by our consumption addiction, the corporate rule of American politics, the change from community-oriented living, working, and business to community-devoid living with large, one-stop-shop mega centers. And now a more publicly apparent and glaring consequences: the global financial crisis and global climate change.

Arguably, the relationship for of the desire of growth may not be the (only) thing that lead to the current financial crisis. However, do some reading about local economies (you know, the ones that should be feeding you, providing you with good and services). See the difference in food from a farmers market and a Wal-Mart supercenter – then you shall truly see the benefit of a focus on local economies – better quality.

In a steady-state economy the growth comes not in the form GDP, but growth in quality of life. The growth comes from development within our system, not expansion of the system as a whole. This is a qualitative improvement (development), not a quantitative change (growth).

I believe that a sustainable, steady-state economy can help solve the problems poverty, hunger, and save our environment. It will encourage local businesses and economies, not conglomerates that have enough wealth to buy the government (or pay them to look the other way while bad practices are enacted).

Don’t believe me? Read!!!

  • Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben (well-written, up-lifting book about the topic)
  • Beyond Growth, by Herman Daly (one of the foremost man on the topic of a steady-state economy)
  • Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, by Brian Czech (this book inspired me to start this blog)
  • (a great wealth of information and more books)

Or, don’t educate yourself. Be a mindless drone that believes everything you hear. It’s always up to you. Be a Citizen, not a Consumer!