Humans have a serious stuff problem. We keep making and buying new things when most of the time we could find those things in great condition, secondhand. Instead, we’re making trash at such a rate that an unfathomable 40 percent of the ocean’s surface is now covered in trash islands, and there is literally more than a ton of trash for each one of the 8 billion people on this planet (9 billion tons, and growing). If these heaps of waste (the lion’s share of which is produced by corporations rather than individual households) aren’t mortifying enough to drive people toward the free economy of reuse, maybe the lack of a price tag is — especially given the staggering wealth gap and cost-of-living crisis in the United States.
Wheelchair users in Colorado now can fix their own chairs when they break. It did take a new law, allowing them to access the parts, tools and diagnostics they need to do that—for the same reasons that, for years, John Deere argued that farmers don’t really own the tractors they buy. Because those tractors carry computer codes that are proprietary, farmers just have an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.” As our next guest has said, the notion of actually owning the things you buy has become revolutionary, if ownership includes your right to modify or repair those things. But it’s a revolution that is underfoot. So let’s catch up.
From IPhones To John Deere Equipment, Corporations Shouldn’t Be Holding Needed Repairs Hostage. Think back to your flip-phone or bulky tube TV of yesteryear. When they were on the fritz, you didn’t necessarily fix them yourself, but you may have turned to a local repair shop to get things sorted. Today, most of the repair options that await (when your iPhone starts glitching, for example) are deeply unpleasant. After trekking out to an Apple Store, an “authorized genius” might ask for an exorbitant fee or, more often, just tell you to buy the newer model. John Deere restricts how its tractors can be repaired, hospital equipment manufacturers don’t share their repair documentation, and on. Right-to-repair advocates point out this situation is an intentional, controlled part of a planned obsolescence that creates waste and drives up repair fees. Beyond the cost to your pocketbook, churning through electronic devices takes a huge toll on the environment in the form of tens of millions of tons of electronic waste each year.
It’s the holidays. It’s the buying season. You’re supposed to run out immediately and buy everything you can afford — and actually much more than you can afford — because you can dump everything on credit cards and not worry about paying it off until later. And later won’t suck — the stores promise! But of course truthfully it will. Later will suck. Later always sucks, for most people. But no matter — go quick and get the brand new model of the thing you didn’t like the first time around. Better yet, buy it for someone else because even though they might get as little use out of the gadget as you did, they won’t be able to tell you that — so they’ll just say “Thank you!” because it’s part of the social code.
Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time. But while Americans generously donated $390 billion to charities in 2017, that number pales in comparison to the $130 trillion we spent on buying stuff in the same year. How much of that went to huge companies that don't support your values-or worse, use their revenue to actively work against them? Conscious consumers prefer to spend money with transparent companies that support the same causes they do.
Saving nature without sacrificing modern life is the preeminent challenge of our time. It is a complicated problem that must be attacked simultaneously from multiple angles. Failure to act on one angle will invalidate efforts on other angles. This problem must be addressed in two distinct phases. First, we must stop living in a manner that actively harms both ourselves and the natural world. Then we must learn how to create a world where both nature and humanity thrive. This two-part article will explore how we can reorganize our civilization to be compatible with such a vision.
From today onwards, we have used every last bit of natural resources that Earth can provide within one calendar year and are now living on ecological credit. This year, Earth Overshoot Day occurs on August 22. It marks the imaginary point when humanity’s demand exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. The international research organization Global Footprint Network, which has been calculating this date since 1970, estimates 1.6 planets are required to support our population's way of life.
Life isn't about making more money so we can keep buying more stuff; it's about having time to do things that enrich our lives. In the face of multiple crises -- pandemic, climate and biodiversity -- we need to consider new societal and economic ideas that promote human well-being and help us live within Earth's limits, rather than endlessly chasing a consumerist dream based on the illusory premise that a finite planet can support endless growth. A four-day work week won’t cure society's woes. In fact, you'd think we’ be down to three days by now, as rapid technological advancement and global trade have upended everything about the way we work since the standard five-day work week was implemented after the Second World War!
It is necessary to rethink our culture – in the very first place that part that refers to the relationship of the individual with others and with nature – to redesign the forms of societal organization, from the family to humanity, passing through and including community and nation.In the possible new world, consumption will have to regain its function of satisfying real needs, which is very different from the idea of consumption as the impulse driving development and accumulation of capital. This confusion has resulted in cultural alienation and the destruction of the natural world and of human health. It is enough to cite the example of the spread of obesity and of diabetes, more lethal than all the coronaviruses together. Our effort will have to be to apply ourselves to determining the correct qualitative and quantitative relationship between supply and demand for food. The countryside should be reclaimed and repopulated.
Baltimore, MD - U.S. retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4% from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away, threatened the viability of stores across the country and further weighed down a sinking economy. The Commerce Department’s report Friday on retail purchases showed a sector that has collapsed so fast that sales over the past 12 months are down a crippling 21.6%. The severity of the decline is unrivaled for retail figures that date back to 1992. The monthly decline in April nearly doubled the previous record drop of 8.3% — set just one month earlier. “It’s like a hurricane came and leveled the entire economy, and now we’re trying to get it back up and running,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist for the consultancy Maria Fiorini Ramirez.
Here is a lesson: for 40 years, we have accepted the premise that markets will solve all our problems, and we don’t need national strategies. We traded our industrial capacity and technical leadership for cheap T-shirts and low-cost flat screen TV’s. Now we are dependent on supply chains in other countries to respond to our emergencies. China, South Korea, and Germany have effective national strategies and strong industrial bases. China was able to mobilize incredible resources in response to their epidemic. Germany’s formidable industrial capacity in chemicals and pharmaceuticals positioned them to devise test kits for their own people, and supply kits for Europe and other countries. South Korea was way ahead of us in their public health response.
Four centuries after the East India Company set the trend for corporate resource extraction, most of the world is now in the grip of unbridled corporate power. But corporate power is on the cusp of achieving “quantum supremacy” and social movements in the digital age need to understand this in order to shift gears in their struggles. The quantum shift here comes from “network-data” power; the ingredients that make up capitalism’s digital age recipe.
Corporate Powers Are Stealing Online Identities, Posting Fake Comments To Push For Consumer Law Repeals
Forget Russian fake news for a moment. Another extremely consequential privacy-breaching, identity-theft hack is undermining our democracy and almost certainly being perpetuated by corporate America. A pattern of cyber deception is appearing across the federal government in the nooks and crannies of the process where White House directives or Congress’ laws are turned into the rules Americans must abide by—or in the Trump era, are repealed. Hundreds of thousands of comments, purportedly made by Americans, have come in over the electronic transom to at least five different federal agencies calling for an end to Obama-era consumer protections and other regulations that impede profits, a series of investigative reports by the Wall Street Journal found. Except, the people who supposedly sent these comments never did.