Monday, October 20, 2008

The Collapse Of The Consumer

So hot off the presses is this startling article of truth revealing that the U.S. is facing its worst recession in 26 years. For some reason this line jumped out at me:
The focus of concern is shifting from the markets – although these remain dangerously stressed – to the wider economy, where the consumer finally appears to be cracking.

This is a great cause of concern for this nation because the economy heavily depends on consumer confidence. The article continues, stating:
Consumers, who account for 72 per cent of the US economy, are pulling back amid a brutal tightening of credit conditions on everything from car loans to credit cards and home equity lines.

I can understand how this would cause great fear, but I started to think about my own situation. I am personally not facing the penny pinch, mainly because I am single and live on a shoe-string budget. I'd like to think I am somewhat responsible with my finances as I seek to be a good steward of what God has given me, but there is always my thoughts began to wander further and I came to this question--

Does it concern anyone at all that we as Americans are mostly defined by the term "consumer" to begin with?

I know consumer is an economic term applied to a capitalist market. It just so happens also to manage in the dumbing down of persons to predictable, persuadable rats in the grand lab of advertising and marketing, much like the numbers assigned to prisoners or students at institutions of "higher education."

I do not think it helps at all that we are repeatedly told that the heart of the so-called American Dream lies in our ability to consume and consume and consume as if this is somehow what is meant by "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." Is it really true that the free market depends on our slavery to consumption?

Does the word "consumer" really reflect the values of today's American society? My fear is that the answer to this question is yes, which is why we are in this predicament. But I want to be proven wrong. Please prove me wrong. Is there a better word we can use to describe us as Americans?

By His Grace.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:39 AM

    Your comment "we are repeatedly told that the heart of the so-called American Dream lies in our ability to consume and consume and consume..." presupposes that you have accepted this fallacious misinterpretation of the American Dream, as you correctly identify by "life, liberty, and [the] pursuit of happiness". Free market does not depend on "our slavery to consumption", rather, free markets represent a free market based upon the exchange of goods and or services between two parties resulting in a profit, for each. I think you will enjoy these books if you read each from cover to cover.

    Read:

    1. Calvin and Commerce
    2. Wealth and Justice
    &
    3. The Virtues of Capitalism

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brother,
    My comment doesn't necessarily communicate that I personally have accepted it. What I am communicating, however, is the controlling interpretation of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is the "so-called American Dream" which today is consumerism.

    Either way, however you want to take the American Dream, though beautiful, can still become an idol for us if that is what we pursue with our utmost.

    Furthermore, what I am communicating overall in the article is that given our society and economy I, Andrew, am reduced to "consumer." The rich flavor of being American is lost in that.

    Thanks for the potential reads. I know who you are just by your book suggestions ;)

    ReplyDelete