Less consumerism, same consumption

 

I’ve been taking the “Transformation” EXCO class this semester. It has been a wonderful experience if for no other reason than it is, necessarily, forward looking. The transformation on our minds – and most other Mac minds, I wager, is: how do we transform our global economy? Economic collapse aside, the mandate of modern capitalism to consume, consume, consume just isn’t sustainable. 

I’m an economics major. I very much enjoy the subject and I think that modern economics – as opposed to modern capitalism (consumerism) – is still the best way to explain our economy and an important way to formulate direction for our future. 

An assumption: Economics assume that the goal of any rational actor is to maximize utility. Utility is most often defined as consumption. Hence, more consumption = more utility. (Note: many economists use utility, happiness and wellbeing interchangeably.) 

I’m not so sure about this assumption. It makes graphing and explaining and model-building really easy. And, to a large extent, it explains Western economic behavior. I’m really not sure about it.  Continue reading

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