Friday, March 15, 2013

The new movement: consumerism

There are environmentalists.  There are minimalists.  There are pacifists, communists, socialists and apologists.  Me?  I’m a consumerist.  The dictionary defines a consumerist as someone who acts on behalf of consumers.  I guess I am that, to a certain degree, but that’s not the definition I mean.  One of their definitions for consumerism is “advocacy of a high rate of consumption and spending as a basis for a sound economy.”  Even though they don’t define consumerists as such, I’m staking claim to that philosophy and I’m calling myself a consumerist.

Before you decide to join my movement, understand that I’m not advocating that you spend beyond your means.  Mine is a movement of pushback.  I’ve grown tired of terms like “shared sacrifice.”  We’re bombarded with guilt on a daily basis, like having worked hard to earn a few things in life is somehow evil.

I had a lady call my radio show once and tell me that we all needed to be sacrificing because our soldiers were having to sacrifice so much for our freedom.  I became quite irritated.  Our military personnel sacrifice to protect our way of life.  They don’t, for a second, believe that we should lower our standard of living just because they’re serving in some far-flung locale.

The notion of purposely depriving ourselves is not only useless and hollow it’s downright destructive to our economy and our country as a whole.  Were I to deprive myself of consumer goods just to feel like I’m suffering I would inflict that suffering on others.  For example, every car I refuse to buy, every article of clothing I choose to do without in turn deprives those who sell those goods to make a decent living.

Let’s just focus on one industry for a moment.  If we were to all, say, refrain from eating at a fast food restaurant for a month we would collectively kill the fast food industry almost overnight.  Think of the jobs lost and the devastation to the economy just because we decided to sacrifice.

Again, I want to be clear.  I’m not advocating going out and running up the credit cards just to help the economy but many a downturn in the economy was caused by the consumer herd.  People think things are getting bad based on media reports and a recession becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Conversely, a healthy economy can be grown by an attitude of consumerism.  The dirt people incessantly whine about how much we’re consuming.  They urge us to conserve here and conserve there and all of this so-called conservation eventually leads to a lower quality of life.

My consumption isn’t based on some phantom calculation of CO2 tonnage.  My consumption is based on how much money I have.  I’ve been in the work force for more than three decades.  I didn’t work this hard for this long so I can now live like a pauper.

I love life and I believe in living life to the fullest.  That means getting out and doing things, going places, seeing what all the world has to offer.  It doesn’t mean living in some guilt-ridden paralysis standing on the sidelines watching the world go by.

If you need something – if you want something – and you can afford it, buy it.  You want to do something for the greater good?  Become a consumerist.  When you buy, people work.  When you don’t, people lose their jobs.  It’s really as simple as that.

In the end, I’m a realist.  If the environmentalists and socialists get their way we’re all going to be minimalists, whether we like it or not.

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