1. Organised-efforts by individuals, groups, and governments to help protect consumers from policies and practices that infringe consumer rights to fair business practices.

Consumer protection in India is very strong for those who are willing to take the pains to fight for their rights. I know a number of cases where the consumers have won big settlements from large corporations here and I am sure that it must be the same overseas as well.

2. Doctrine that ever-increasing consumption of goods and services forms the basis of a sound economy.

and 3. Continual expansion of one’s wants and needs for goods and services.

This is something that has overtaken us human beings from the time of the Industrial Revolution which was speeded up from after the second world war when it was discovered that women could also come into the non agricultural workforce. Rather than expand on what has happened elsewhere in the world, let me concentrate on India where we got out of the Socialistic Pattern of Society in the 1990s of the last century and got royally involved in the rat race.

The one word mantra is Growth.  Everyone and his uncle obsesses about growth.  If the GDP growth gets below a certain percentage point, all hell breaks loose and the pundits start baying for the blood of the politicians. And such growth can only come from demand for goods and services constantly increasing to facilitate production of goods and services. So, businesses have come up with the brilliant strategy of advertising overt and covert to keep the demand pot simmering and producing goods and services highly subject to obsolescence so that replacement demand also takes place besides demand for new goods and services.

To facilitate that process, financial institutions get on the bandwagon and offer products, read loans, to make borrowing attractive so that people are perpetually in debt often just meeting interest payments without the original borrowed sum ever reducing at all. Another phenomenon that one can watch is that of the debt servicing going up for individuals as their incomes go up too! A self perpetuating cycle that leads to many of the modern ills.

I am glad to report that I do not contribute to the growth of our GDP. I am in the process of simplifying my life to the extent I can by becoming a minimalist. I refuse to be swayed by advertising for goods and services though I am sucker for advertising for movies and books. In the latter case however, I prefer buying a kindle version and buy hard copies only when I cannot get an electronic version. I however doubt that my splurging on these two items will seriously impact our GDP, the current growth of which is 7.3%, among the highest in the world!

I had suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.

20 thoughts on “Consumerism.”

  1. GDP won’t move much based on my purchases as having the latest item with all the bells and whistles has never been a driving force for me. For many items I want function, long lasting durability — investigating buying something different, not constantly researching to replace an old item with a few new gimmicks added. Mindless constantly borrowing to buy beyond ones means and all the interest that’s paid.

    1. Just this morning I was subjected to a show off! The son of a friend had dropped in with a gift from his parents for me and he was all the time waving his left arm around in a most peculiar way till I got the message! He wanted me to ask him about the wrist watch that he was wearing. I obliged and it was a Rolex the price of which is so high that I was stumped for an answer to him. What for? I wear a wrist watch that gives me time day and date which costs a fraction of what the Rolex costs!

      1. Our son readily agreed to go to a boarding school when he found that commuting and the consequent having to get up early every morning irksome. He claims that going to boarding school has stood him in good stead.

  2. I am not adding to our GDP either. What I find interesting is how the world is scrambling to replace/bolster the middle class of the USA which was the engine that provided all ofthat growth for so many years. We are a vanishing breed. Lucky for us our brand new president is going to fix us. Or so he says. Anyone want to buy a big orange brisge in the SF Bay Area? I have the exclusive listing! Ahem.

    1. The middle class here now is larger than your entire population Shackman and that is one huge market though not as huge as the Chinese. Our consumption however is almost all domestic unlike the Chinese which is highly export driven. It has its own problems but now with globalisation on the retreat, India may turn out to be a safer bet as shown by the recent statistics on Direct Foreign Investment.

      I wish that I could afford to buy that bridge of yours!

  3. i’m with you rummy.
    as you know i’ve been a minimalist ever since i was a teenager. (which certainly made me an odd duck then.)
    if the constant growth of the GDP depended on me it would dissolve in no time.
    i’ve NEVER wanted ‘stuff’ and the older i get the less i want.
    it’s such a lovely way to live … to leave a light footprint.
    the majority of people in america still chase after the NEW. and the MORE.
    still … it’s heartening to see so many minimalist web sites now and how many young people are wanting a more minimal life. valuing the things that really count. not just always panting after “bigger and better and newer” STUFF. instead they want a simple life with more wonderful experiences with the people they care about.
    that’s so refreshing.
    maybe eventually it will help. if nothing more than to stop the land fills of discarded trash from overflowing!
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

    1. Economists say that as long as the growth is ahead of net population growth, it is okay as a macro survival tactic but once the young rebel against paying taxes to sustain an aging population things can go very wrong. USA, Japan and most of Europe is in that fringe now.

  4. You are so right, it is a self perpetuating cycle. It is depressing to see the world wide emphasis on consumerism, growth, and, as a direct result, abusing the planet. I have been a minimalist for years, and find it liberating to be unburdened with loads of stuff. What an apt topic, Rummuser!

    1. Thank you STLF. You will be pleased then to know that I have just got rid of almost all my Western clothes and have decided to stick to my native dress for going out henceforth. It is simple and I don’t have to worry about matching ties, socks, cufflinks, belts etc!

  5. I’ve always taken consumerism to mean the idea that the only important thing in life is to consume goods and services, and this obsession has taken the place of simple everyday pleasures that don’t involve endless consumption. As you say, economic growth is seen as dependent on ever-increasing purchases.

    Like Tammy, I’ve always been a minimalist who buys only what I actually need, so big business must hate me. They can pester me with as many adverts as they like for some fashionable product, but they’re wasted on me.
    nick recently posted..A horrified shudder

  6. Hi Rummy,

    Being a minimalist myself, I do not contribute to the lunacy that has taken over our societies either. I remember that when I was 20 I returned to my adopted country and I got rid of everything (including my bed) in order to stop being a consumerist. Since then I have been disciplining myself and today I only buy what I need, not what others tell me I need.

    Fabulous topic, my friend. Have a blessed week.

    Max Coutinho recently posted..The EU’s Self-Isolation, Isolating Palestine and Ecdysis

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