Jake Gordon

Twisted economic values

12 January 2004

In an essay I wrote last year, I quoted Ben Elton’s ‘This Other Eden’:

“Consumer confidence is actually considered a measure of a country’s relative economic strength… Consumption is synonymous with ‘growth’ and growth is good… Judged by the logic of world economics, the death of the planet will be the zenith of human achievement, because if consumption is always good, then to consume a whole planet must be the best thing of all” (Elton, 1993:125)

I was reminded of this when I read a story about a man who collected all the junk mail he received on the BBC News website today. The guy received 701 items through the year, coming to 70lb in weight. The story highlights how wasteful the direct marketing industry is, and one reason why I hate it.

Yet the guy goes on to concede that there are “benefits to society from junk mail with employment for postmen, printing workers and direct marketing employees.”. Argh!!! Is that why we work, so that we all have jobs? If something can be done better without anyone working, is that not surely better? It frees our time to do other things, to enjoy our lives, to educate ourselves, to have fun. Yet another underlying reason for my forthcoming dissertation.

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by Jake Gordon, some rights reserved