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Consumerism Gone Wild and the Disparities of Wealth

Many historians trace the rise of consumerism as a way of life to 19th-century changes in capitalist theory. One example is Thorstein Veblen’s “Conspicuous Consumption” argument, which suggests that wealth can create addictions to material goods and pleasurable experiences in ways that erode the common good.

Clearly we are in an age of wasteful consumption among the wealthy, and increasing hopelessness among the poor. The gap is increasing, and there seem to be few solutions in sight. What personal, community, and governmental practices might bring some relief to this crisis, and how do religious traditions have a role to play? Has consumerism become a religion?


Featured Panelists

Can We Prevent a Permanent Underclass?

Can We Prevent a Permanent Underclass?

Shahed Amanullah

This new world is coming, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. We must accept the fact that there will never again be enough jobs for those who seek them.

American Has a State Religion, and It Is Greed

American Has a State Religion, and It Is Greed

Domyo Burk

I'm all for the separation of church and state, but there's one serious repercussion of this separation that may be our undoing.

What Christians Should Know About Consumption

What Christians Should Know About Consumption

Joe Carter

Consumption is an ugly word for a beautiful concept.

Mammon's False Promise

Mammon's False Promise

Gus diZerega

Consumer society does not simply reflect our desire to have good things. It is a pathological parasite on that desire.

Consumption, Virtue, and Opportunity

Consumption, Virtue, and Opportunity

Greg Forster

The dominant idea today is that money spent on frivolous luxuries should have been redistributed to those in need. This assumes that what the poor need most is money, and that we can create justice and opportunity by moving money around.

M&Ms and Moral Capitalism

M&Ms and Moral Capitalism

Steven Garber

What if doing well and doing good were a seamless reality? What if personal convictions were integrally woven into public practices?

Consumerism: What Do People Really Want?

Consumerism: What Do People Really Want?

Jeff Haanen

After observing people like Karla, I've come to ask a different question: What do my low-income brothers and sisters really want?

Modern Economies: Benefits and Breakdowns

Modern Economies: Benefits and Breakdowns

P.J. Hill

The restoration of right relationships through an understanding of the moral dimensions of life must be at the heart of any efforts to deal with conspicuous consumption and hopelessness.

What's the Economy For, Anyway?

What's the Economy For, Anyway?

Adam Lee

The complaints of the rich may sound out of touch, but that doesn’t mean the underlying problems aren’t real.

Humanist Egalitarianism Puts People First

Humanist Egalitarianism Puts People First

David Niose

We can build a fair society through naturalism and pragmatism.

Solidarity Ethics Offer an Alternative Pathway for Justice

Solidarity Ethics Offer an Alternative Pathway for Justice

Rebecca Todd Peters

The statistics portray a troubling moral crisis in our world. How is it possible that so few have so much, when so many have so little?

Why Consumerism Is Not the Problem: Reshaping Desire from the Bottom Up

Why Consumerism Is Not the Problem: Reshaping Desire from the Bottom Up

Joerg Rieger

Charges of consumerism and materialism tend to overlook two basic problems.

Consumerism, Consumption, and the Power of Simple Choices

Consumerism, Consumption, and the Power of Simple Choices

Sarah Spengemen

If we look at our patterns of consumption in the United States, our over-consumption of one product in particular becomes especially troubling.

Commentary From Our Blogging Community

Consumerism Gone Wild: How Swiffers are Sweeping Away our Common Sense

Consumerism Gone Wild: How Swiffers are Sweeping Away our Common Sense

Rebecca Todd Peters

Swiffers represent all that is disordered about US American consumerism.