Sunday, November 14, 2021

wanting less and doing more

An editorial in Bloomberg  notes that Americans need to learn to live more like Europeans, wanting less and saving more. 
"It's become the conventional wisdom that the U.S. economy is built on Americans' endless appetite to buy lots and lots of stuff. Household consumption makes up about 67% of GDP. When the economy falters, we're told spending is our patriotic duty... But suddenly, Americans can’t spend like they used to. Store shelves are emptying, and it can take months to find a car, refrigerator or sofa. If this continues, we may need to learn to do without — and, horrors, live more like the Europeans. That actually might not be a bad thing, because the U.S. economy could be healthier if it were less reliant on consumption.We've entered an age of overabundance. We consume much more than we used to and more than other countries. Consumption per capita grew about 65% from 1990 to 2015, compared with about 35% growth in Europe."—Allison Schrager

A simple note about all that stuff. It comes in the door and then out with the trash a short time later, and we could cease being middlemen in the degradation of planetary resources if we were to change our ways. 

We may not want the economy to come to a complete instantaneous collapse, but we need to make a gradual shift in which we're doing much more for ourselves and spending less time waiting for the shelves to be restocked.

Perhaps we should learn to simply want less and learn to do more. We could save money and the planet in the same simple exercise. To start work on a new more vibrant and wholesome economy consider shopping at our student Pay What You Want Shop at the Clear Spring School. 

Our students have been learning about small business by making and marketing things made from wood. The products do not arrive on our shores in container ships. They are not made in China, contributing to our enormous balance of payments deficit. They are made from renewable materials. You can pay what you want, and if they end up in the landfill at some point just as all the other things you buy this Christmas season will, at least they were made along with the growth of character and intelligence of each child who made it.

Make, fix and create.


  1. If only it hasn’t gotten to the point where the things we used to think were long term purchases… major appliances, low-end automobiles, pop-up housing complexes, and so on… were built to last, so we wouldn’t have to keep buying those, too.

    Seems like the options these days are buy cheap, and hope the warranty’s good, or save up for high-end fancy. The middle ground seems to be gone.

  2. Actually cars may not be all that bad. Compare my Nissan Truck to my mother's old Chevy Nova. It was worn out at 90 K, while my Nissan is at about 110 K and good for another 100 K if I felt like driving it that far. But we expect a lot more from our current cars than we did the cars of old. Folks drive many more miles per day or per week, a lot of it running around buying stuff. Here in Eureka Springs, Berryville Walmart seems like a very long ways away, 10 miles. But in the cities folks will drive 20 miles to get to the movie show or shopping mall, and another 20 miles home again. The challenge is that we don't see the point in conservation. Too little do we see in nature that is ours.