I think addressing the potentially toxic cycle of consumption in westernized countries is important.  This two-part series by Free Range Studios, “The Story of Stuff” — just released on Terra (Tilzy.TV Page),  a non-profit dedicated to educating the world about local, national, and international environmental issues through independent documentary filmmaking — raises some very serious and thought-provoking issues.  We should all be aware of our (likely disproportionate) consumption, but I wonder if this description of the global economic system is a bit heavy-handed, over-simplified and moralistic….

The next video….

Modern capitalism is certainly flawed, and there is certainly no shortage of corruption in the system, but there is a rational argument for economic freedom that invariably treats some better than others.  Economist Julian Simon, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Maryland argues, very convincingly, that “more people and more wealth are correlated with more (rather than less) resources and a cleaner environment.”  He suggests that global economic activity, though often messy and inequitable, actually benefits everyone involved… over time.  Is that really the case?  I’m not sure, but it’s worth noting the rationale.

“Throughout history, the supply of natural resources always has worried people. Yet the data clearly show that natural resource scarcity — as measured by the economically-meaningful indicator of cost or price — has been decreasing rather than increasing in the long run for all raw materials, with only temporary exceptions from time to time. That is, availability has been increasing,” writes Simon in an essay.

That said, I respect this video series and, despite my desire to present the argument for open economic activity, with its pitfalls and drawbacks, I do not disagree with the perspective of “The Story of Stuff.”  The cycle of consumerism in America, and the principle of inadequacy promoted by most commercial media, has had a paralyzing impact on American society and a more destructive impact elsewhere in the world.

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