Whom Should be Blamed For Consumerism?

The ALWAYS good Steven Horwitz pointed out a fantastic inconsistency the other day, using one of my favs, the “liberal college girl” meme.


Many of the same people who self-identify as “anti-consumerism” (you know, the “Story of Stuff” crowd) are also champions of Keynesian stimulus. Is your cognitive dissonance meter going off yet?

Consumerism Is Keynesianism – The Freeman – Steven Horwitz: The great irony is that leftists frequently argue that capitalism equals “consumerism.” They think defenders of free markets believe that more consumption promotes economic growth; thus we are charged with providing the ideological cover that justifies the consumerism they see as deadening lives and wasting resources. What the leftist critics miss is that economists never saw consumption as the driving force of economic growth and prosperity until the Keynesian criticisms of free markets became ascendant.

For over 150 years defenders of free markets saw consumption as destroying wealth, and saving and production as creating it. They never argued that “stimulating consumption” was the path toward prosperity. Therefore they cannot be charged with justifying the “consumer culture.” And the same is true of twentieth-century defenders of free markets such as Mises and Hayek.

If leftist critics want to decry the focus of modern economics on consumption, they should turn their sights on the Keynesian interventionists.

Related links:
If Stimulus Spending Is The Problem, Why The Mess?
Spending Is The RESULT Of Economic Growth
What Would Happen If We Drastically Cut Govt Spending?
The Story of Stuff – Sterling T. Terrell – Mises