Aha! I realized today why capitalism is failing. The trends that have been created in the name of saving the planet we live on and its resources have encouraged recycling and reusing. Sustainability. And buying locally produced whenever possible. All of these things point to huge changes in how money flows and how much money flows. The internet that allows us to purchase more from all over the world has also created a place to find free or used (and less expensive) things locally. People are getting together to trade clothes they've outgrown. I've been to a few of many markets that are for locally made goods only. I am supporting my community! I am reducing my footprint! But I wonder, with so many of us making these decisions, what is the economy we're creating?
I like my stuff as much as the next guy, within reason, but have never felt that most new items are worth the pricetags they wear. I have just made my second large purchase this summer. I first bought a car and now have a newer, nicer computer. Both were bought used and locally. Both are quality and far less expensive than they would have been brand new. And I couldn't be happier. But I wonder what impact my choices have on the economy? In my mind I'm being practical and living within my means but I'm wondering if I've disappointed the experts who would've thought I'd be buying a brand new car every ten years. A brand new computer when the next generation comes out. A new phone every year. I'm still only thinking about getting an iPhone 3G, as the new ones are a mess and sound like a foolish waste of money.
More extreme than my savvy shopping is he Freegan movement. I read an article recently about a group of people living together in an abandoned house that they've all worked together to fix up. They have pirated utilities, collect food that was thrown away because it had passed it's sell by date and get their clothes from unclaimed lost and founds. They've set out to live without need for money and seem to be accomplishing it quite well. It's brilliant! I almost wish I'd gotten in on the idea before I got used to a steady income and the privacy of my own home.
Another thing I just learned by chance is that I have a job that pays generally the average wage someone with a Bachelors degree can expect to earn. As I don't have a degree myself I'm wondering if someone out there is feeling the loss of the thousands of dollars I was expected to pay for an education I obviously didn't need? I wonder if someone else is feeling the loss of the position I hold that could have allowed them to repay their student loan? Look at me beating the system every which way! And I couldn't be happier with my ten year old Honda, reconditioned iPod and three year old MacBook bought at about 20% of the price it was new. Yes, I'm bragging. And I'm carrying far less debt than the average American. And despite what people may think, I'm happier with what I have than I would be with what I don't have.