Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Suffering Paradigm

“We should consider that the boosters of the prevailing economic paradigm have the most to gain from its continuation, and that this economy is predicated on training us to be dissatisfied and ungrateful consumers.” Wendell Berry

We often hear that greed caused the ongoing financial crisis. Critics point at the greed of a broad cross-section of our citizenry – homebuyers who had eyes bigger than their wallets, mortgage originators and real estate agents who helped those eyes bulge, lenders and securitizers anxious to book ‘em and sell ‘em, investment banks ready and willing to bet for and against them, and others, too.

How do we recover from the effects of this greed? Most economists say the resumption of consumer spending is the key to financial recovery. Some of them recognize that if the rest of the world consumed like Americans do, our Earth would cry for help even louder than it already does. So, greed got us into this mess and perhaps now we need greed to get us out.

Or maybe we need a new paradigm, one in which we develop a disciplined approach to spending, not so influenced by the boosters of the status quo who want us to be dissatisfied with what we have, an approach that forces those boosters to offer us true value instead of snazzier cars, shoes, clothes and prepackaged foods our grandparents would not have recognized.

"You're getting carried away," says Virginia.

Carry me back to old Virginny. I understand our Commonwealth retired that State song. Maybe we could retire some other habits.

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