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

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THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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