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Hmm…which way prosperity? – a question


Hmm…just watched the Story of Stuff, which, while clearly a little simplistic, is really quite interesting. As is the Money As Debt movie, which again tries to explain hugely complex issues in an accessible way. And it’s made me start to think (“danger, Will Robinson”).

I’ve started to wonder just how long we can keep this pace of consumption going? I’m also wondering whether we should start to think about turning this juggernaut super-tanker of an economic system around and slowly begin to point it in another direction? One which is sustainable over the long term? Because one thing seems clear right now, the system we’re using is starting to fall apart and it looks increasingly as though we’re just papering over the cracks until the whole thing shudders to a grinding, painful halt. Of course that’s just my very inexpert view, which a million clever economists could probably shoot down in a second.

The situation is made even more interesting by the fact that those of us with popular global gadget web sites, blogs or whatever, are in a way helping to create the problem. It’s worried me for a while that every day we gaily introduce and even rave about yet more products, upgrades or plain junk which are destined for landfill city, which in turn adds to the fuel of our somewhat unhealthy consumer obsession. No-one suggests that we should stop all commerce, that would clearly not be A Sensible Thing, but maybe there’s something we can all do as a group to help bring a little more balance into the whole shebang?

I really don’t have any clever answers right now – er…maybe you do? – but I just thought I had to ask the question. Forgive me for disturbing your equanimity with such radicalism on a December Thursday.


  • It’s funny you should mention that Red, I think the idea has occurred to quite a few people of late.

    As I survey our study complete with 4 computers, a minidisc player, iRiver and 4 mobile phones in the drawer, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t need an Eee PC or any of the rest of the junk.

    Sure I can chuck it all on eBay but that just means someone else gets the responsibility of throwing the stuff out.

    Here in Oz we don’t really have much of a recycling system for e-waste. Cans and plastic bottles are fine, but Pentium 2s and 2nd Gen ipods, not so much. Perhaps with our new change of Government things will change, after all we are signing the Kyoto Protocol at last!

    Maybe something similar to what’s happening here: http://tinyurl.com/2lzclb is happening in the UK and that’s what’s really at the heart of the problem.

    Nice post, love the social commentary.

  • Thanks DTM, I think you’re right, we’re having to face up to a lot of things that have been buried under the carpet for a long time. It’s not doom and gloom though, as hopefully asking the right kind of questions will lead to the best kind of answers. :-)

  • Put aside your guilt, my friend. The Story Of Stuff is total horsehockey from start to finish. Military expenditure is NOT over half of the federal budget– it’s less than 20% and we spend over twice than on social programs. The rest of the so-called “statistics” in that alleged “report” are no more accurate. You need to increase the sensitivity of your BS filter to keep junk like this from getting to your brain. -B

  • It is all about balance. If the world decided today to never again buy “stuff”, the economies across the globe would collapse and hurt many people in the near term.

    But that is not to say the world can go on status quo without abandon. We must balance the other end of the scale with supporting green initiatives, alternative energy sources, etc.

    The U.S. is much better than (way) back when I was born. But there is much yet to do here and across the world obviously. And it is not something that will be completed in our generation.

  • Totally agree Todd, balance is absolutely the key.

  • In Perth there is a computer recycling centre where you can take your old pc stuff, they fix it up and sell it for peanuts to people who need it.

    I work in a govt. dept, and they recently threw out LOADS of decent pc’s and monitors, to be sent and crushed, as they are not allowed to give them away or sell them. Crazy, no?

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