Thomas Friedman writes for 'science is settled' crowd, but make a point, with another man's words

A stupid headline: The Earth Is Full - NYTimes.com
 
An important (and, useful, really) sentence to take from it:
 
We will realize, [veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, Paul Gilding,] predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less.
 
Gilding is, as Friedman notes, a realist. While "happiness-driven" isn't exactly the best terminology, to say the least. Sounds kinda... well, dippy. But, I think I get it. Buying things as a basis for culture and economic growth is total crap. Being able to buy things is one thing, but as big a distraction as wants are -- as opposed to, or subsuming, needs -- in the States and elsewhere, a "consumer-drvien economy" is utter crap. We think less with our heads than with both our nether regions and our wallets.
 
I think Gilding's comments translate so that he is not just another of the tree-hugging spastic estate babies and retail clerks, celebrities including the self-ingratiating Al Gore, and the like, who scream "WOLF!" about consumerism being the root of all evil.  
 
“We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”
 
Things can get better without behaving as if, or believing that, capitalism is a demon and Republicans its most eager apostles. But who's going to agree with that but Republicans and any given fiscal conservatives? No one, you suspect? That is one of our biggest divisions, politically. If we cannot even trust the motivations of the human political opposition (not the literal crony capitalists, but besides these greedy elites), how are we going to arrange a way to manage an ever-growing population and energy demands?
 
Gilding has a new book called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.” I want to give this one a look. Not because of doting Thomas Friedman. Because I don't want to assume I know where things will go in a decade or two. Economics creates great change, when few hold the control wires. And that is where we are, and the stubbornness of officials the world over suggests it is getting worse, not better. Entitlements are crashing, and while there's slim few in the streets of places such as Greece trying to destroy their cities for the hell of it, others are using such angst to harm the future, to wreak havoc on market economies.
 
Is Gilding at utopianist, with his talk of happiness versus consumerism? Could be. I honestly don't know his reputation or work. I believe utopianists are fools, flat out, because they believe there is a possible end to suffering in an imperfect physical world, so I would reject him, in that case. But happiness doesn't come inside clear, formed plastic with cardboard backing, and objects and other material distractions do not bring happiness. They might delay misery, but they don't bring happiness. So, I am all for an economic approach that encourages happiness over closets of stuff we don't actually need.

- jR
 

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