We consume

May 10, 2011 | By | Reply More

At Truthout, Ellen Dannen points out that we live almost entirely in the present, as consumers:

As consumers, we live today in a perpetual now, ingesting and eliminating. But our ancestors understood the importance of being conservative, of conserving. They saw the value of building infrastructure of lasting value – not thinking only of themselves – but building also for their children and progeny yet to be. They understood, as did Oliver Wendell Holmes, that the taxes they paid were the price of admission to life in a civilized society. They understood that to live in a civil society required providing real nourishment, including the best education possible, for everyone. That society at least gave lip service to the principle that, “What you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” The things they produced and created still contribute to our security and progress. Among other things, they created a high-quality, heavily subsidized system of education that eliminated cost as a bar and made our country a leader in so many areas. We would be better off today had we properly valued their investment in us, rather than having consumed and destroyed so much of that inheritance.

I consider this issue often. If one were really to implement “family values,” would we be trashing the planet and failing to plan for the future? Wouldn’t we be obsessed with making sure that our children will have access to a well-cared-for planet on which they can live out their lives, one they can hand to their children? But as a government, we really do seem to be living in the present, dealing with the disasters as they arise rather than taking steps to avoid them. We excel at kicking the can down the road just a bit, putting off for another day.

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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Sustainable Living

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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