Consumerism refers to the freedom in the marketplace. Day after day, the American market is advancing in technology, developing more improved and higher quality goods and services yet the Americans seem to be so unsatisfied with the idea of consumerism. It becomes more confusing considering that everyone wants more food varieties, modern houses with cooling and heating systems, access to faster and better internet services, newest fashion and all good everything. That is the freedom that everyone wants. The consumerism.
What anticonsumerists fail to acknowledge is that the economy adjusts itself to total wellbeing when each pursues his or her well-being (Bourne, 1). This is an economic theory put forward by Adam Smith concerning the forces of demand and supply. When individuals work towards their well-being, the market adjusts to provide the excesses leading to an increase in societal wellbeing. For example, when people demand large amounts of a certain good say cloth there will be an increase in the price of the cloth if there is a single supplier. As demand increases, however, more suppliers enter the market and consumers have options of more than one supplier. This then results in a drop in prices to enable competition, which is better for the societys well-being. Not only does the society benefit from reduced prices it also benefits from increased competition in the cloth sector (Bourne, 1). Competition in one sector is very likely to increase the overall competition in all economic sectors hence consumers get quality for their money. In a non-consumerism society, however, the government allocates the supply to specific firms, this is not healthy for the society as these firms can dictate prices. Even if the government controls these monopolies and can prevent an increase in prices, they are unable to prevent the corruption that comes with a single producer. Wealthy people can bribe the officials to obtain products faster than the masses. This gives the less well-off a disadvantage in the market. Non-consumerist behavior was encouraged in communist states with their governments having the mandate to allocate funds. Communist states in all practicality failed to be as economically successful as capitalist countries. The United States is a thriving economy, albeit with massive debt and a worldwide economic super power yet it is a consumerist society.
The efficiency of the market is another economic question that comes up in the consumerism debate. Economists in the defense of consumerism are of the opinion that a consumerist society has a market nearing perfect competition (Bourne, 1). Perfectly competitive markets exhibit the characteristics of market efficiency unlike monopolies, which characterize non-consumerist societies. In the case of perfectly competitive markets, all resources are put to efficient use and since many suppliers are competing for the same resources. An optimal allocation of resources for both the suppliers and consumers is more likely to be achieved in a competitive market. Inhibiting consumerism in itself is, therefore, bad for the countrys resources as resources are wasted when the citizens could use them. Arguing that wastage of resources is better than having the resources consumed is both radical and unreasonable.
Human beings are a reward- seeking animals. Without the motivation of receiving a reward, man has no reason to work. Anti-consumerists argue that consumerism gives the wrong rewards to people. The whole essence of a reward, however, is to get what you used to work for, whether it is morally correct or not. The laws protect man from crossing the legal boundaries, but no one should dictate what reward another person receives. In this age of emptiness, people are forced to fill their lives with commodities; commodities are far easier to buy than the lauded rewards of love, peace, and joy. As much as money cannot buy the things we should aspire to, it can buy commodities. The man has no control over the things he is to aspire to, for example, love. Love will happen when it chooses to while a car can be planned for and purchased. Without the motivation of a reward, there is no motivation to work. An example is the adoption of communism in African countries. Tanzania, for example, had a form of communism referred to as Ujamaa which failed to succeed as many people opted not to work and depend on the labor of their fellow countrymen (Nkrumah, 453).
Consumerism is therefore not the evil it is portrayed to be in the media and learned circles. The market corrects itself in relation to individuals seeking to maximize their well-being. There is nothing immoral about a person seeking out the comfort of working hard for it. What would replace commodities? Consumerism may distract man from greater goals, but who is to say these greater goals are attainable for everyone, yet the pursuit of money for consumerism is universal. Anti-consumerists say that consumerism blinds people to their fellow human beings. People are less empathetic to the plight of others. While this is true, it can also be argued that plain sympathy without offering any physical help is of little use. Physical help requires money and purchasing of goods and services. People should however not be blinded by consumerism and seek to expand their horizons past consumerism.
Bourne, Ryan. In defense of Rampant Consumerism. The Telegraph. 15 Jan 2015. Web. 5 April 2016. Retrieved from HYPERLINK "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11346635/In-defense-of-rampant-conumerism/htm" www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11346635/In-defense-of-rampant-conumerism/htm
Nkrumah, Kwame. African Socialism. Print. 1974
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