Response to Round 8 : Prompt 1 Homo Economicus


 As has been stated over and over again in class, education is one of the necessary tools to changing the current social norms, especially the ones that tell us we need the newest, biggest, current best thing on the market to be happy. We learned in class that society was taught after the war ended to view consumption as necessary for the growth and well-being of society. We can do the exact same thing and teach people that consumption is not the way to happiness but to destruction, of our planet, our neighbor and ultimately ourselves, and emphasizing the reduction of consumption to the benefit of society. I am not certain we could maintain our current standards of living simply because they are driven by the self-serving greed we have embraced as a society. I do believe we could have a great quality of life while decreasing consumption if we have the right attitude. There is enough resources to meet the needs of everyone and if we can learn to be satisfied with having our needs met, even if we don’t have all of our desires, our quality of life will be sustained. It will look differently than the current measure of quality of life but will still be valid. 

Collaborative consumption sounds like a great idea. It is a way to continue to consume without depleting the finite resources. I don’t know that we were wired to share but I do believe we can be taught to embrace the concept. I don’t think we need a separate value system for goods and quality of life but a separation of goods from quality of life to know that the two are not mutually exclusive. So depending on what is meant by separate value system, I might agree.

Developing nations are very much invested in following Western culture. Because we are bigger, how we live and what we place value on is viewed all over the world and becomes the standard that other countries try to meet. I personally do not think that is a good idea, but that’s beside the point. If Western culture can reduce consumption while still maintaining quality of life, developing nations will follow suit. As the prompt points out, the level of consumption in developing nations is much lower than that of Western cultures so it will be easier in practice for them to reduce their consumption. The shift in mindset will still be difficult to execute but the key will be implementing it in developed nations first. 


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