Tag: consumption

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Word is Crisis, Not Recession! by NY Brit Expat

Yes, comrades, we need to talk about crises again, the term recession simply does not explain what is really going on! Just in case you might not have noticed or perhaps the mainstream media where you live ignored it, the obvious has happened and the end of the so-called recession has disappeared into the fantasy novel. Once again there is a slowdown in growth and the financial markets are not particularly happy. This time, Germany and China are showing signs of slowdown. Globalisation has not ended the potential towards crises in the capitalist economic system; in fact, the greater interconnectedness of the world economy has exacerbated the situation and ensured that the contagion spreads.  

For those who believe the fantasies of neoliberal economics, the shock of these latest failures of neoliberalism must come as a surprise. But for those of us that have been warning of the stupidity of squeezing wages and destroying work conditions, rising inequality in income and wealth, the dangers of export-led growth when wage incomes are being squeezed meaning that unless governments become the sole purchasers of goods and services that are being produced (and they are not) that obviously there comes a point when working people cannot purchase goods and services as their incomes are too low, wiping out of savings  has happened and personal indebtedness leads to default and bankruptcy. Neither of these things helps to maintain capitalist growth, accumulation and profitability in the long run; forget that, it hasn’t even lasted in the short run.

I will be giving a run through on what is going on and why our lives feel as though we are living through the Shock Doctrine (which we are) then address the proposals of dealing with persistent unemployment under capitalism from the Left on which there is significant disagreement.

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – The Perfect Oil Clean Up Crew

Crossposted at Daily Kos


This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

:: ::

Clean Up Crew by Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen, Buy this cartoon

The Real Story of Debt and Consumption in the US

An interesting piece by Rebecca Wilder I saw at the Angry Bear economy blog really jumped out at me.  The nutshell is this:

The goods share of total consumption has been falling quite dramatically, while the service component surged. Therefore, it is more likely that the debt fueled consumption was going predominantly into the service component (paying service bills).

In Q2 2009, 25% of service spending went to health care – outpatient services (physician, drugs, dentist) or hospital and nursing home services – and 29% of service spending went to housing and utilities – rent, water, electricity, and trash. As such, over 50% of service consumption is more likely to remain stable, even rise faster, with the Boomers out there.

The chart is here:

Sorry about the left and right vertical axes… to get it to post, I had to shrink it.  Full blown chart is here.

Note that consumption of goods has dropped from just over 60% to just over 30% in the past 60 years, while spending on services has steadily increased from just under 40% to nearly 70%.  The two dataplots connected to the right hand axis, rent/housing and healthcare, show that health care has tripled as a fraction of spending during that period while housing costs have edged up slightly as a fraction of spending.

How does this tie in to debt?  Well, you probably already know the answer to that one, but allow me to belabor the point.

Death by Consumption

As long as 2000 years ago, the Maya had a great empire- equal to the Egyptians.

Then suddenly, in fact VERY suddenly, relatively speaking, they left most of their cities and moved back to a very simple lifestyle, what was left of them. They left behind brilliant cities, great art, and the remains of a very rich civilization.

The reason? conspicuous consumption. Sound familiar?

If you’re as tired as I am of huge gas guzzlers, wasted resources, and other useless symptoms of excess, maybe it’s time to learn some history. In fact, it may be really important.

Buying our way to a better planet …

There is a debate, subdued at times, between various approaches toward changing the planet to the better.  In many ways, my viewpoint (on the optimist side) tends toward the ‘enviro-capitalist’, thinking that we can work to structure the economy to make the right choice, the easy (and preferred) choice.  There is a challenge between using financial mechanisms as a tool to move toward a A Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society and going overboard.  

The line can be thin … or thick.

GreenSumption or Greening our Choices?