The Future of Consumption: Part II

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


To: consumerforum@motherjones.com
From: eric_umansky

Bill, it’s comparatively easy to decide on your own to use less (the “to each their own” model). But it seems to me that potentially avoids having to answer some tougher questions. What happens if people don’t follow your own path to voluntary reduction in consumption?

If reducing consumption is that important—if hyperconsumption doesn’t just reduce the happiness of person who buys too much stuff but also has negative repercussions for society in general—then shouldn’t we try and come up with some policies that can help us move away from hyperconsumption as a society?

I mean, that’s one of the reasons we have a government. You have to pay taxes. You can’t physically attack people; you can’t dump toxic chemicals; in some cities, recycling is required. All because sometimes constraints are put the individual in order that society on the whole might benefit (or at least not be harmed). If hyperconsumption really is leading us down a road to disaster (and “represents our deepest problem,” as Bill says in his article), then wouldn’t we need something stronger than a voluntary effort?

God only knows what those policies look like. Any ideas or suggestions?

Bill, is skiing that close for you? Impressive.

 

To: consumerforum@motherjones.com
From: bill_mckibben

Should the government get involved to force such changes? I don’t even think it’s a question. The moment a democratic government could rouse itself to do such a thing would be the moment it was no longer necessary—the moment when a substantial majority of us had decided to do something slightly different with our lives.

As for skiing nearby—it’s right out the door, provided you’re willing to break trail. Of course there’s no store, bar, theater, health club, or bagel bakery anywhere in the vicinity (all of which makes reducing consumption somewhat easier).

The Forum Part II: Searching for Solutions 1 2 3 4

The Forum Part I: Defining the Problem

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest