Consumerism's Role In America's Economy Essay
What is the effect of consumerism on the American economy? The father of modern economics and capitalism, Adam Smith, maintained that ambition and acquisitiveness, two drivers of a market economy, were merely illusions. He believed it is these illusions that compel a society to work for what they believe will make them happy which, in turn, leads to a consumer-driven economy. Indeed, consumerism broadens a society’s economy through a wider selection of goods and services, but does it also increase the power and controls of a society’s government through consumer activism and regulation?
Supporters of consumerism point out that indebtedness has long been a part of America’s history. Until the 20th century, Americans believed indebtedness was a sign of wealth and power – something only the most respected members of society enjoyed. Credit cards opened doors for the middle and lower classes and allows them to purchase items once attainable only by the wealthier members of society. Advocates of consumerism believe making money via credit more available to consumers only benefits America because it encourages people to purchase more expensive goods and services. This, in turn, will drive the demand for more which leads to more jobs and more spending. Proponents further insist that society’s development is greater because of consumerism and any governmental intervention to foster the growth of consumerism is necessary to prevent the collapse of the American economy.
Those who support consumerism make the case that private companies simply cannot and should not regulate themselves. Lenient, if not almost non-existent, regulation of America’s corporate and financial institutions nearly caused the collapse of the American economy in 2008, they insist, and the government must ensure the safety of the economy by reforming the behavior of corporate America. The only way to improve the practices of businesses, large and small, is through regulation and reform. Supporters believe the current reform proposals will restrain the carelessness of business and prevent future crises. Congressional regulation, they insist, also lifts the overall living standards for all members of society.
Does a society benefit or suffer as a result of increased consumerism? It absolutely benefits, say supporters. Debt drives consumer spending, which in turn helps the economy grow. When people spend more money, businesses earn higher profits and are able to hire more workers. Consumerism promotes the fueling of economic progress through the development of manufacturing and the rise of living standards for all Americans and not just the wealthy.
Opponents argue that societal development suffers as consumerism and the ensuing governmental regulations increase. They point to the fact that working class wages are stagnating and prices are increasing. Avoiding...
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Consumerism is the center of American culture. Americans tend to confuse their wants with their needs. With new advances in technology, as well as the help of advertisers, people are provided with easy access to new products that seem essential to their everyday life, even though they have survived this long without them. People cannot live without food, clothing, and shelter. But realistically, according to people's different lifestyles, more than food, clothing, and shelter are needed. Most people need to work to survive. Unless a job is either in their own home, or within walking distance, a means of transportation is needed. Whether it be a vehicle, money for a taxi-cab, or a token for a ride on the subway, money must be spent in order to reach the place of work. For a student, paper, pens, and possibly a computer are a necessity. In order to complete school assignments, these tools are sometimes even required. Schooling is required for many types of jobs, which provide money, which is without a doubt essential in life. Food, clothing, and shelter are not the only things needed to survive. The problem begins when people with a larger disposable income take it too far. A car is definitely needed, but the fastest car in the most attractive color is not. Needs begin getting confused with
wants, and money is spent on the most silly and necessary items. There is nothing wrong with spending extra money on items to make life more convenient, but with the help of clever advertisers, money is spent wastefully and carelessly. People who spend money extravagantly and unwisely lead to a culture that has become wasteful.
New products such as the iPod, a portable device
that holds hours and hours of music, are extremely
convenient. People are used to carrying around portable
cassette tape walkmans, or portable CD players, which hold
only one cassette tape, or one compact disc, providing only
one hour of music, maybe two at the most. As well as having access to up to five-thousand songs, the iPod is very easy to carry around, and it only weighs 5.6 ounces
(apple.com/ipod). Choosing between a portable cassette tape walkman, portable discman, or an iPod would be a fairly easy choice for anyone who can afford to spend an extra three-hundred dollars. The iPod is an easy, convenient way to listen to music anywhere. While the iPod is defiantly not a necessity, it is useful. Unfortunately, the creators of the iPod did not stop there. It did not take long for them to come up with the iPod Mini and iPod Special Edition. The iPod Mini is a smaller version of the
iPod, with a few different features, but no major difference. The Special Edition iPod is black with a red wheel. It has few music features that are different from the original and mini, yet costs fifty dollars more than the original iPod. This is when spending money becomes ridiculous, for there is no important reason to buy the Special Edition iPod instead of the original.
As said before, vehicles are needed for a means of
transportation. Of course everyone wants a car that is
reliable and safe, but some people feel the need to have an
extremely fast car. While it is natural for people to want
their possessions to look appealing and nice, again, some
take it too far. Things such as iridescent paints for cars
are completely unnecessary. While a family of six probably
needs a mini-van or a sports utility vehicle to tend to all
the members of their family, a television is not needed.
Spending disposable income on something such as that is
being wasteful, and that money could serve a better purpose
for other people, especially with the amount of Americans
and people from other countries living below the poverty
level. It could be said that buying anything that is not
completely necessary is not right, because that money could
be used for a better purpose. However, Americans can choose to spend their disposable income however they would like,and it makes sense to buy products that make life more
convenient. Americans just tend to cross over the line of
what is reasonable and useful, and what is wasteful.
Advertisers make their products seem extremely
important in life, and as if they are needed to survive.
Sometimes using false hope, advertisers convince their
consumers that they must go out and buy the product right
now, because it is life changing, and results will be seen
quickly. Weight loss and beauty products are advertised in
magazines, on the internet, and practically everywhere there are ads. They make the customer feel as though they are not good enough, as if they have something missing. Weight loss products make claims, that are usually false, promising that the buyer will look and feel better about themselves. By showing pictures of other's results after using the product, a customer could be convinced into investing in the product themselves. Beauty products are advertised in a similar way. Usually targeted towards women, most of the time they contain pictures of beautiful women, using or wearing whatever lipstick, nail polish, or shampoo that the particular company is advertising. When a
women sees an advertisement that first makes her feel as though she is not good enough, she may be more likely to buy the product, in hopes of becoming what she is not. Although many people know that products do not always do exactly what they say
they will, people continue to buy these things. An advertisement for Hydoxycut, in Fitness Magazine, shows a beautiful woman in a white shirt, exposing her stomach, and low-riding brown pants. She has a smile on her