Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Economic Meltdown

Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University:

"The world doesn't need more stuff to sell," explains Professor Pettis, "it needs more buyers."

Maybe we don't need either more stuff or more buyers. Who knows, what with the constant warnings about climate change, the need to conserve and cut back on our extragavagant consumption habits, maybe this financial meltdown is actually bitter medicine that will do us good in the end.

Since forever it seems everything has been geared towards economic growth and increased prosperity. This makes total sense, in theory anyway, for the majority of the world living in poverty for whom these terms probably mean very little, but for us living in rich, developed nations the question ought to be, how big can we get anyway? We've been so sucked into the ideologies of materialism and conspicuous consumption that we're like total zombies. Everyone wants to get super rich, and expects to do so, without even for a moment thinking about why we want to get super rich in the first place. It's a dull cliche: "money doesn't buy happiness", but it's not a dumb one.

How much more can we all buy, consume and throw away before we're happy anyway? Before it all comes tumbling down? Well, looks like we just found out.

Of course if we all stopped spending it'd be total and utter disaster. But I hope maybe we're set to go back to a slightly simpler life for a while, and maybe it will do the whole planet some good.

It's cruel of course. Because every factory that closer will cause hardship for its workers. But will also be one less factory polluting the environment. I just hope in the end those responsible for this almighty mess end up paying for it, but I'm not holding my breath after hearing that Wall Street bankers paid themselves some $18 billion in bonuses at the end of 2008, just after getting a $700 billion bailout. The world sux, don't it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree, our desire to consume and climate change are intrinsically linked. Why don't you write something about carbon sequestration and "clean coal". The biggest crock of shit going to allow us to continue our current habits of consumption. Gee last time I looked resources weren't finite and yet our fuckwit government is hell bent on continuing to buy into this myth. I mean how much are they spending on research into new clean energy technology anyway. The financial meltdown is bitter medicine but we're like a screaming child who refuses to swallow it. What a great opportunity it would have been to fundamentally change the way we live.