Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Breaking the Consumption Addiction

Forced to pinch pennies, Americans are finding clever ways to cut back. A break in the consumption cycle may be a good thing in the long run.

Americans are smelling their leftovers, asking "is this still good?" and digging in for the first time in 40 years. Some call it an economic crisis, others see potential for lasting change.

Now that the economic crisis has officially been dubbed a recession, and November employment stats have surpassed our most miserable expectations, let's take a moment to look on the bright side of this dismal situation. As history shows us, economic crises do have a way of producing positive outcomes, like great art, the New Deal and the charmingly depressive music and fashion of the 1990s grunge fad. But this current, entirely 21st century recession may promise to bring a different kind of change, ushering in a whole new era of postconsumerism.

Ever since the years just after World War II, when the United States was reinventing itself as the world's economic superpower, the American people have increasingly equated "citizenship" with "consumerism." The promotion of consumerism was part of a 1950s economic stimulus plan, in which the Eisenhower administration deliberately spun the nation into a vicious cycle of production and consumption with the end-goal of increasing employment and building a healthy economy.

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