Purchasing Power: passé; ditto “consumers”

Purchase: v. to buy, to acquire in exchange for money

Power: n. the ability to act or produce an effect

Passé: adj. out-moded, past its prime

James Kunstler says it’s time to pucker our purses. Put down those precious pearls. Hands off the purple Prada pocketbook. And for god’s sake don’t purchase more plastic.

Say goodbye to the “consumer society.” We’re done with that. No more fast money and no more credit. The next stop is “yard-sale nation,” in which all the plastic crapola accumulated over the past fifty years is sorted out for residual value and, if still working, sold for a fraction of its original sticker price. This includes everything from Humvees to Hello Kitty charm bracelets.

It will be a very salutary thing if we stop even referring to ourselves as “consumers.” This degrading moniker, used for decades unthinkingly by everyone from The New York Times Nobel Prize pundits to the Econ 101 section men of the land-grant diploma mills has been such a drag on our collective development that it has extinguished the last latent flickers of duty, obligation, and responsibility for the greater good in a republic of broken communities shattered by Wal-Marts.

Kunstler is right. It’s high time we the people were called “people” or “citizens” instead of “consumers”.  The first step in changing our behavior is changing our thinking and language. I’d much rather be known as a citizen, which implies an awareness of and participation in the society around me.

We do have lives beyond the shopping mall, don’t we??  Lives of meaning even: we’re parents, children, workers, savers, helpers, voters…

Time to reclaim our humanity.

3 responses to “Purchasing Power: passé; ditto “consumers”

  1. It’s really as if the entire country has been involved in one huge pyramid scheme, doesn’t it. I don’t remember the 50’s and early 60’s being like this (but maybe I was just too young). But at some point, our entire lives seemed to become one mad dash to the store. We had to spend, had to have more and more things, and give our children more and more things. But then had to work harder to make the money to buy more, and then felt guilty or deprived so we had to buy more, and get deeper in debt to do it, but that was OK because spending was good.
    No wonder our nation is worn out. We’re all so tired from running so fast and getting no where real.
    Did you ever see the National Geographic spread where they took everything out of the houses of a family in the US, and families from other countries scattered across the world. We won, hands down, buried in stuff. Not that I would want to go back to the days when all a family owned was one pot and a shared spoon. It just seems as if there should be a level of stuff that doesn’t overwhelm us but still allows us to live nicely.

  2. That photographic spread you mention was a book. I think the cover showed a family from Tibet or Nepal – and all they owned in their tents were a few pots, bowls and sleeping mats. (!)

    It was a fabulous book; can someone point me to the title???

  3. found this:
    Material World: A Global Family Portrait (Paperback)
    by Peter Menzel (Author), Charles C. Mann (Author), Paul Kennedy (Introduction)
    The picture was familar, but I know I haven’t read the book. Blurb said Menzel takes pix for National Geographic, so maybe they published some of the pix from the book.