Wednesday, March 07, 2007

He said it more incomprehensibly...

My last few and next few postings are going to focus on consumption, assuming that it has an impact on the planet when it is wreckless and destructive. Like how much stuff do we need, aside from endless amounts of chocolate.

Jean Baudrillard just passed away. The French Social theorist was a strong critic of consumerism (never really thought of it as an -ism, like communism) as noted in his New York Times obiturary "He was also a fierce critic of consumer culture in which people bought objects not out of genuine need but because of the status and meaning they bestowed."

I was going to explore this angle some more in my post, as I realized that many purchases these days are not necessary, but are bought for their positional value -- or where they place you in the hierarchy. Modern economics describe these purchases as "signaling" mechanisms. The twist is in the past, economic goods conveyed true economic capability, but with easily available credit, it can now be faked. But then getting the girl isn't faked so it might be worth the effort.

Even though we live in more abundance, the one thing that never changes is that there are only a few places at the top. And we do measure ourselves relatively, and there are only 10 places in the top 10. So the value for pursuing those goes up. The other thing that afflicts us is that we become acutely aware of what is available in the world, and then we want it. As the old saying goes, if I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor.


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