Monday, November 28, 2011

Nation of Consumers in Hard Times

We have become a nation of consumers when once we were the manufacturing leader of the world.  We now measure our economy by how much we buy rather than how much we make.   Almost every media outlet this weekend underscored that fact with story after story about surge in consumer buying on Black Friday followed by estimates of our need top spend that will come today, Cyber Monday. 

It seems that the 1980's bumper sticker is apropos: He who dies with the most toys wins.  

It is against this backdrop of rampant consumerism and, inevitably, people behaving badly, that Scott Pelley showed us the other side on 60 Minutes last night. When consumerism rules the day, what happens to people when you can't consume, when you reduced to living in a car?  We have given names to generations.  The seems to be the Hard Times Generation.
Never has unemployment been so high for so long. And as a result, more than 16 million kids are living in poverty - the most since 1962
According to Pelley, this is pushing near to 25%.  That is 25% who can not participate in the spending spree that fills our news and encourages Wall Street. That is 25% who should have learned something.  As 15-year old Arielle Metzger told Pelley:
Every time I see like a teenager or any other kid fighting with their parents or arguing with them and like not doing what they're told it really hurts me. Because they could be in my shoes. And of course I don't want them to be in my shoes. But they need to learn to appreciate what they have and who they have in their life. Because it may be the last day they might have it.

In spite of the effort of OWS to call attention to this income disparity, to the rapacity of some of the super rich, we continue down this road to ruin.  I am not sure what the Occupy movements will end up accomplishing.  If they don't get more people on their side, it might not be much.  

I know a lot of Greens support, or participate in various Occupy efforts.  They are very clear about what they are against.  Most seem unclear as to what they are for.  Greens need to articulate the vision of where this country is going, what the future will be.

So, here is my challenge to you now:  What is the future we want?  Let's start a conversation here.  There is a wider effort going on elsewhere:
That session is just getting underway at, at  at @futurewewant on Twitter, and at the UN’s web site. .
I plan to join in there.  They need to have the Green Party vision of a sustainable future with all that means for people, resources, energy, etc. Clearly, it needs to be one not driven by consumerism. This is a conversation that all GP candidate should be having with the voters.

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