Consumer Democracy Unpackaged

Disclaimer: Below is a video discussing one individuals view on the current situation regarding consumerism and its implications on a larger scale. Although I do not necessarily agree with all of the radical claims stated, I do believe the this side of the spectrum needs to be heard. So please keep an open mind, and feel free to comment your thoughts!

The concept of consumer democracy is a well known one at this point and very important for individuals to understand, mostly because they are the ones who are “in charge” in our free-market based society. But this idea of the people having all the power and say in which companies and products are the most successful may seem out dated and impossible at times to feel like your personal input has any true outcome. But unfortunately at this point in time it is the system in place and is very much here to stay.

Unfortunately also at this point in time, the very people that control the wealth necessary to actually have enough say to manipulate any leverage in our growingly globalized capitalistic society, are the ones controlling it and benefitting from the system in place. The proportional representation of power in the world is staggeringly out of the middle classes hands. And even when an individual is completely informed about their rights as a consumer to dictate the demand for the most conscious products, there are not enough previsions in place to inform a consumer at the point of purchase where exactly each level of the supply chain of a product came from.

It seems like an endless loop of untraceable beginnings to products we don’t have the time to look into every time we are at the grocery store. Although it may seem difficult but small steps must be taken at the individual level to enforce this type of though when making the most menial of purchases. A cultural change in purchasing and reinforcement amongst your peers to stand up for something that we all believe in inside. No one wants to see our planet destroyed, I can assure you that. Nor to people want to contribute to foreign wars and corruption of our own elected officials when they buy a new stroller.

One solution would be at that point of purchase. Labeling products to informed the uninformed yet passionate consumer just how much it took a product to get at the middle shelf at Safeway or Target. I encourage, YOU, a citizen of the world (not just your own personal life) to be conscious about your next buy. Think about all the steps taken to get that product out of it’s three different levels of packaging and do you really need that new luxury you can probably live without.

Max Grinberg

1 Comment

  1. stuartcuw

    While I do think there are certain flaws with the ideas of “Consumer Democracy,” the above video is flawed in how it paints Milton Friedman’s assumptions. He does not assume balanced wealth, nor does not assume single buyer or seller. I feel like the video presenting these assumptions as belong to Friedman somewhat undermines its credibility.

    Another issue that I had was that the market does not need perfect knowledge; in fact if there were perfect knowledge the market system would not be needed. Without entropy (the chaos/unpredictability that comes with a lack of information) there can be no change. This is not just a economic rule or something, but a law of nature. Check out Entropy (Information Theory) on Wikipedia for more stuff on this..

    Lastly, I think the video muddles the difference between “agree with” and “support.” The video says that people who buy product X don’t support sweatshops or wars or whatever, when really they mean they do not agree with these things. Spending money on these things most certainly supports their continuance, even if people would like to think otherwise.

    I think the video does too much to disconnect people from the repercussions of their actions, no matter if they agree with the outcomes or not. If you buy a shirt from a sweatshop in indonesia, it is most certainly partially your fault that there are sweatshops in indonesia. To absolve people of that in the process of undermining the idea of “consumer democracy,” I think it does more damage than it fixes.

    Anyway, just a few of my thoughts 🙂

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