“Green Consumerism” Largely a Myth

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An important little post by Amanda Reed at WorldChanging reveals how conventional measures of carbon emissions give consumers a free pass and ignore the greenhouse gas production resulting from global sourcing of consumer goods.

John Barnett of the Stockholm Environment Institute gave a presentation based on his work in the UK and 40 local governments in Europe. He focused on the fact that tallies of carbon output focus on producers, which has the convenient effect of omitting the impact of shipping finished goods to end buyers:

25-30% of emissions come from products and services that are produced in one country then traded to another…

As it stands now, most emissions data focuses on the production side of our consumer society. For example, the factory that makes your gadget in China contributes to China’s emissions count. When that same gadget is shipped to a UK consumer it does not count towards the UK’s emissions count. Barrett showed that the result of this approach has led to what he called “carbon leakage.” He said that as countries become more and more service based, with demand for products and services met by imports rather than production, the overall amount of carbon leakage goes up. “The volume of emissions that are not counted goes up.” This lack of accounting for growing imports of consumer goods shows up directly in the UK’s emissions records…the Kyoto numbers show an overall emissions reduction in the UK, but consumer emissions have actually gone up in the same time period!

Yves here. When this carbon leakage is factored back in, “green consumerism” looks to be an oxymoron:

“Green products” have less impact in reducing emissions than most people think. The growth of green consumption has not reduced emissions.

Gains in emissions reductions from technological advances have been wiped out by increases in consumption as people demand higher levels of affluence.

The UK’s 50-70% of gains from home energy conservation are lost when they’re redirected for other resource consumption, by people buying other goods and services with the money saved.

Yves again. I admittedly have a coldwater Yankee bias, but I continue to be amazed how consumers fail to be attuned to the fact that the job of a producer is to figure out how to empty their pockets. Why has the public so meekly accepted planned obsolescence? All sort of products, from cars to consumer durables to consumer electronics used to have much longer average lives in service. More frequent trade ins/ups seem to have been foisted upon consumers by playing on status-seeking and a desire for novelty. Yes, some new gadgets really do offer better and different functionality, but consider how many things you discard that are perfectly usable (of course, your truly is a real outlier here, since I particularly resent how computer manufacturers and software designers engage in feature bloat to compress product life cycles and take perverse pride in fighting it. I loved my NeXT computer and used it 10 1/2 years; this post is being written on a 8 year old laptop that had more memory and a bigger hard drive added later in its life. And do not get me started on the topic of fashion….).

Barnett addressed related issues:

Barrett said that some economists are exploring one possible solution: a move toward a future of “steady state economics,” in which a high quality of life exists with no economic growth, since economic growth has (so far) driven growth in material consumption.

Others argue that if we want to have economic growth without rising emissions, we need to do a much better job of decoupling quality of life and well-being from energy and resource use. A growing movement of people are looking at land use, transportation, energy and food systems, finding ways of providing a better quality of life in more urban and post-consumer patterns, and re-thinking how we define and deliver affluence at a systemic level away from the consumption of stuff…. The message, in the meantime, is clear: we can’t shop our way into the future.

Yves again. Tell people not to consume? Horrors. Aside from the fact that it would take a generational shift in values, or a Great Depression II to undo America’s addiction to retail therapy, another ugly complicating factor is that emerging economies, particularly China and India, are out to provide larger proportions of their population with middle class lifestyles. That is generally believed to entail owning more stuff.

Since confronting mass consumerism frontally seems unlikely to make much headway, one can only hope that outlier ideas like freeganism which essentially arb the system, wind up having more impact on values and behavior. Before you dismiss this idea as nuts, remember that organic food was seen as equally oddball in the 1960s. From the New York Times (hat tip reader John L):

Freegans maintain that by salvaging waste, they diminish their need for money, which allows them to live a more thoughtful, responsible and deliberate existence. But if they succeed in their overriding goal, and society ends up becoming less wasteful, the freegan lifestyle will no longer be possible.

That would constitute a considerable victory, if you ask me.

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  1. a

    “All sort of products, from cars…”

    Is this really true? The cars of my youth, before the Japanese invasion, were basically on life support after a year. As an adult the cars I have bought have lasted, with almost 0 maintenance, 15 years a piece. OK, that’s anecdotal, but I can’t believe my experience is so far off the curve.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Pray tell, what sort of cars did your family buy? There are even still Trabants, famously just about the worst car ever made, were very long lived.



      My family kept cars 5-10 years and gave them to other family members. When I moved into this apartment 18 years ago, and I recall my cleaning woman commenting approving of the oldish gas stove (a brand I had never heard of) as being a particularly well made. It is completely indistinguished in appearance, it just makes things hot realiably. It is utterly anti-chic, which in New York is seen as a very bad place to be.

      1. a

        In a comment below you mentioned 200 000 miles for old American cars. Truly, we didn’t live in different countries; we lived in alternate universes.

        So I Googled and the first link was thishttp://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveonaCar/CarsThatLastAMillionMiles.aspx

        “Days past, 100,000 miles was usually the average life of a car,” says John Ibbotson, a workshop supervisor who’s in charge of vehicles that are tested for Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in Connecticut, referring to vehicles from the 1950s to 1970s.

        “At 100,000 miles, we were into major engine and transmission rebuilding,” Ibbotson says. “Cars in the ’90s, it was 140,000, 150,000 miles.”

        The U.S. Department of Transportation reports the average life span of a vehicle is 12 years, or about 128,500 miles. But that could be low simply because people don’t maintain them, Ibbotson says. “If you bought a car today, there shouldn’t be any problem with that car going 200,000 miles,” he says.


        I’d agree with your broader point that lots of things are junk sooner. Toys strike me as one of the best examples. But the best example, I think, is telephones. My mother’s main phone is still her AT&T telephone from the 1950s. Those things are tanks.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I wonder how well maintained they were. We just did the routine stuff, but the Down East crowd really took super good care of their cars (one even cleaned the undercarriage to make sure they didn’t get salt damage, but there was also much less use of salt, studded tires were permitted). I’ve similarly seen equipment in gyms there that was antique yet operated much better than reasonably new equipment in NY gyms simply because they lubricated the moving parts regularly.

          1. NOTaREALmerican

            This is probably peer group bias.

            Most of the people I grew-up-with drove their cars into the ground.

            Besides, I’d bet that cars from 30 years ago evaporated more hydrocarbons sitting in the driveway than cars do now when running. I went from a 1969 Ford Maverick to a early 80’s Toyota Corolla. There was no comparison.

        2. srvbeach21

          I don’t think the point is that cars physically last longer or shorter than they did in the past, but instead that people dispose of cars (and most other products) long before they have reached the end of their actual useful life.

          This is a result of a couple of factors. First, as you have pointed out, most people are convinced that having newer features and functionally is very important. As a result, they will upgrade a perfectly functional car.

          Second, I don’t think most people understand that you have to spend money to maintain a machine as complex as an automobile. As an anectdotal example, a friend of my wife feels the need to purchase a new car as soon as her “Check Engine” light comes on. For whatever reason, she seems to think that once a car needs some work, it is no longer useful. This is on the advice of her father (a financial advisor of all things), and seems to be a prevailing opinion.

          Finally, I think that people develop a tolerance to making car payments. If a person is used to making payments for a 3-5 year loan, once that term ends the borrower feels wealthier. As a result, making another major ($20k+) debt purchase seems affordable. This is very different from the psychology of saving and paying cash for a new or used car. It is also an example of how credit expansion has led to wasteful consumerism.

          Quite frankly, the latter two reasons above are also good illustrations of how mathematically and financially illiterate most people are. Unfornuately, it seems most people don’t realize that purchasing two $20k cars in a ten year period is far more expensive than spending $1-2k a year to keep the first $20k car running the extra five years.

      2. alex

        “It is utterly anti-chic, which in New York is seen as a very bad place to be.”

        I wonder if, at least to some extent, you’re confusing changing times with your changing locations. Maine is obviously very different from NY. You’ve said that you lived in many places growing up, but it’s interesting that you mention Maine in specific. Of course “coldwater Yankee” is too clever a term to pass up. I’ve always heard “swamp Yankee” (which I consider a compliment).

        My impression of how long people keep cars for jives with ‘a’, and he does seem to have some statistics to back it up. I grew up in the original Levittown, so it was neither poor nor ritzy, and would guess I’m about your age. I still live on Long Island.

        Part of the reason people keep cars longer nowadays may be that they require less maintenance. While older cars may have lasted 200k miles with good maintenance, people who failed to maintain them well couldn’t keep them so long. Nowadays there’s less to do to maintain a car (longer oil change and spark plug replacement intervals, no distributor points, better rustproofing, etc.). A definite improvement.

        There may also be completely rational tradeoffs. Maine is a lot less wealthy than NY, so presumably car maintenance/repair is cheaper, but new car prices wouldn’t be much different. Therefore it makes perfect sense for a typical Mainer (Mainiac?) to put more into repair/maintenance and buy a car less frequently. It makes sense for people who do their own car work too. This kind of thinking also has a certain “cultural contagion” so I suspect that it rubs off even on more prosperous Mainers. One can take pride in being a good swamp Yankee regardless of one’s income.

    2. Ina Deaver

      There was a period, during the 1980s if I’m remembering correctly, when American cars were pieces of junk. One year is a gross exaggeration: but they were definitely dead in 4. Something went very wrong during those years, especially with the production of transmissions in GM products and electrical in Fords. Fit and finish went to hell in a handbasket.

      On the other hand, I drove a 1964 Chevy Impala throughout the 1980s. Volvos continued to be essentially immortal throughout the 80s, too. There were always things you could put 300,000 miles on – you just had to know what to buy. Datsun pickups were another thing that rusted through the floorboards several years before the engine gave out. And even during the 80s, Chevy Suburbans (despite the transmission problem and some fuel pump issues) were being exported to Mexico for use as busses that could maneuver on small, dirt roads. With the seats reconfigured around the perimeter, they hold 10-12 people easily. Where they remain in use today. . . . .some of them all original.

      1. David Crosby

        My 1984 Volvo went well over 400,000 miles. My 1989 now has 313,000.
        Add oil once in a while (every 100,000 miles?) Works well on unmaintained roads too.

      2. steve

        Rebuilt my 78 242 Volvo at 400k miles, it is at 490k now. My 85 245 Volvo is still pretty new at 175k. Since I live in the North West, this is not all that uncommon. The old bricks are quite fashionable here…

  2. Hu Flung Pu

    I have a solution to the Earth’s environmental issues: stop having children. Consume all you want as individuals, just stop pro-creating. The damage that two individuals do today pales in comparison to the present value – if you will – of the environmental damage engendered by their progeny (kids, kids of kids, kids of kids of kids, etc.). The problem is less our current consumption, but rather the future consumption of our growing progeny. If folks stopped reproducing, the Earth’s population would be down to less than 2 billion by 2100 and humans’ impact on the environment would decline accordingly (re: dramatically).

    1. Eryk

      The state of Kerala in India has made significant progress in curbing population growth through education. It’s becoming common for a Kerala family to have only 1 or 2 children.

  3. Jerry Denim


    This really isn’t the appropriate place for this link but after a cursory look around NC on my tiny little iPhone screen I gave up looking for your email and decided to dump it here. This story seems very much in line with one of your central premises in “Econned”. That is monied hard-right activists have managed to completely hijack the academic/indoctrination arm of the ‘dismal science’ after many years of concerted effort.

  4. Andrew Bissell

    All sort of products, from cars to consumer durables to consumer electronics used to have much longer average lives.

    Whaaa? I doubt there was ever a car made that could keep on chugging like the modern Honda Accord — they’re legendary for driving over half a million miles on one engine, when fed sufficient quantities of motor oil and regularly tuned up.

    As far as consumer electronics goes, you can definitely go wrong buying a prefabbed PC from major vendors, but every game console I’ve ever purchased over the past 20 years is still in top working condition, including the controllers which were occasionally subjected to abuse for obvious reasons. Right now I’m looking at a 9 year old Dell flatscreen monitor that, with a little care, has survived countless moves and has nary a dead pixel. Even my budget brand TV and the refurbished Toshiba speaker set I hooked up to it work just fine. I don’t know, maybe I don’t use all this stuff often enough to see how quickly it wears out and breaks down. Or maybe I’m a lucky or savvy buyer who just happened across the cream of the crop.

    Now, some of these things can be rendered obsolete by new and better technology, sure. It’s a given that if you want to have, say, a top-of-the-line graphics card installed in your computer at all times, you’ll be shelling out at least $1,000 a year for the privilege. There are similar dues to be paid to get the newest & shiniest stuff across the whole spectrum of merchandise. But it’s not like this is some nefarious managed scheme on the part of the manufacturers — they just release the new technology as it’s completed and charge a hefty premium to the first adopters. That’s just paying for quality and novelty and in every arena of electronics — televisions, computers, cameras, etc. — you can easily avoid it by buying an older or a used model.

    At this point I would think it should be possible for any stick in the mud or individual of limited means to get by with 10 year old technology, except maybe in the realm of cell phones. (Even there, my mother uses a 7 year old LG hand-me-down which works perfectly.)

    Would be very interested to see some hard data on this because the idea that modern autos or electronics are shoddy and unreliable just doesn’t fit my experience at all.

    1. burnside

      I think the point is that, however durable products are today, we are strongly inclined to discard them. Or to trade up.

      It’s not that game consoles or Chevrolets fail sooner. Just that we get a new one quite often, regardless.

  5. reskeptikal

    Obviously, this is a very general thesis, so first the gripe: clothing these days usually lasts about 4-5 washes– and I’m talking about consumer type clothing, sports t-s etc. Software bloat is a real and well documented issue. And then a bit of a reminder: while there are a many different makes of cars and different qualities of cars, petrol consumption/ or engine efficiency hasn’t kept up with what technology can do. Cars /could/ in general be a lot more efficient today, than they are…

    At the heart of Yves argument is an implication of collusion. Or at least a feature of our current production/consumption ‘system’: Isn’t competition supposed to stop this kind of thing? Smart consumers should demand the best product and the best product should be the dominant product. But once again, people aren’t that /kind/ of rational- and buying a new t-shirt every couple of months for small change seems to work. Well, it works just great for the clothing-industry as well.

  6. TimOfEngland

    Have to agree with the other comments especially on cars. They last longer. My car reaches it’s 15 birthday this year, 112,000 miles. I have been “running it into the ground” nothing but essential maintenance. It just won’t die… In the 70’s we all used to get rid of a car once it had done 40,000.

    I also collect and sell vintage 70 & 80’s computers – a surprising number of them still work after 20+ years of loft and shed storage!

    One of the problems of modern computers is simply that they need working mechanical fans to survive 15 minutes of use. Worn out and clogged $5 fans are a major cause of failure! Look after your PCs fans and you will get much longer life from it!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You aren’t a Yankee, or maybe you weren’t buying American cars :-). As I said earlier, we’d give them to relatives. The normal life was 200.000 miles.

      And go back and read the post. Did I once say products are shoddier now? No. Planned obsolescence is a completely different issue. It is finding ways to force/induce customers to give up products well before their functional life is over. Your comment is not related to what I wrote.

      1. TimOfEngland

        Yves Smith:
        “but consider how many things you discard that are perfectly usable … I loved my NeXT computer and used it 10 1/2 years; this post is being written on a 8 year old laptop that had more memory and a bigger hard drive added later in its life.”
        Yves Smith:
        “As far as consumer electronics goes, you can definitely go wrong buying a prefabbed PC from major vendors, but every game console I’ve ever purchased over the past 20 years is still in top working condition”

        I was Agreeing with you! What I wrote is related to that – the better computers from 10 years ago ARE still usable – But they breakdown from lack of maintenance – seems perfectly relevant to me. I said thing were better built, agreeing again – they last longer(excluding tat from the far east!) the reference to $5 fans is just advice – that’s all it costs to replace a worn out one.

        Sorry, but I think you misread my intent.

        P.S. 200,000 miles – from a very big engine, in the 70s we Brits were running 1000-1200cc Not 5 litres!

      2. i on the ball patriot

        The responsiveness of Scamerican government to the will of the people is “largely a worn out myth”.

        Its new shift into planned obsolescence for its citizens is now forcing/inducing citizens to give up their freedom and all of their products well before their functional lives are over.

        The people are easily distracted and deeply deluded.

        And I’m a Boston born yankee.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      3. alex

        Yves: “Did I once say products are shoddier now? No. Planned obsolescence is a completely different issue.”

        There’s more to planned obsolescence than shoddier (actually shorter lived – not necessarily the same thing) products, but shoddier products can certainly be a part of planned obsolescence.

        Fashion is another aspect of planned obsolescence and I hate it (except for the fact that clothes of the 70’s went out of fashion). But what if a manufacturer makes a better product? That makes the older products “obsolete”, at least if one is obsessed with having the newest and fanciest, but it’s hard to fault a manufacturer with making their products better or touting the fact.

    2. psychohistorian

      Just some anecdotal evidence from a West coaster.

      Have current Volvo for 24 years and 280+K miles and previous for 17 years and 350+K miles.

      Refrigerator just left but still running at 43 years.

      Toaster being used is a 1928 model

      12+ year old Dell server running Windows 2K.

      It is all about attitude….reduce, reuse, recycle.

  7. attempter

    Green cornucopianism, as I call it, was always a scam. Consumerism as such is socially and environmentally malevolent, as is any form of industrial capitalism (including the industrial communist “state capitalism” variety).

    So in the old days any corporate environmentalist was deluded at best, while today they’re conscious ideological frauds really shilling for corporatism.

    The real goal of green cornucopianism isn’t to help the environment or the non-rich, nor is it to help effect any kind of rational bridge from the fossil fuel economy to a post-fossil economy.

    Instead, looking to the end of the oil age and the increasingly difficult struggle the power elites will have maintaining their power, wealth, and luxury post-Peak Oil and post- the exponential debt economy, the apostles of “green” are trying to figure out ways for the luxury class to continue its consumption even as the rest of the world collapses completely into impoverishment and misery and servitude.

    An obvious example is stealing food from the mouths of the billions who are already food insecure in order to burn it in gas tanks as biofuels. In brief, the goal is to condemn millions and eventually billions to starvation so the fat parasites of the West can keep their “happy motoring utopia” (JH Kunstler) going.

    The same is true of EVs and PHEVs. It boils down to ravaging the earth for the coal and the atmosphere with the pollution from burning that coal to generate electricity in order to keep the personal car sacrosanct.

    As Alexis Zeigler asked of the corporate liberals, “do you really think that someday the people of Darfur will be driving hybrids?”

    (What a neat trick that would be for trickle-down. Maybe even Paul Krugman would be embarrassed by that question. Tom Friedman, probably not.)

    If one’s honest answer to that is No, then green cornucopianism is just another way to try to prop up the fat neoliberal empire. I call it a part of resource fascism.

    1. Skippy

      Nicely spoken attempter!

      The infiltration of the advertising memo to all things is complete, in all aspects of life we can hear its song.

      Skippy…the amount of distance and time required to de-advertise is getting longer and longer from its DMZ like speaker systems.

      1. attempter

        The entire MSM is one big ad agency. And the political blog establishment as well.

        And as we saw with those Treasury meetings, they’re trying to co-opt the econoblogosphere, which seems to be the least tamed frontier.

        1. i on the ball patriot

          Corporate interests are well on their way to co-opting the ENTIRE internet.

          And NO, the global corporate stream media (there is nothing ‘mainstream’ about it) is not one big ad agency, it is one big propaganda machine.

          Rather than being used to sell a product, its methodology has been co-opted by the wealthy ruling elite to create a product — a very pliable and easily controlled deeply deluded citizen — that will then consume corporate provided products of all stripes (including financial), or NO products at all, at a rate of consumption determined by the wealthy ruling elite.

          Self centered, profit driven, bottom line oriented corporations, many which now effectively function as nation states, and with budgets that dwarf many nation states,


          now rape the world’s resources at will and are beyond the control of the world’s citizens.

          Gaining control of these rogue corporations, will require massive election boycotts as a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the now rogue gangster governments that have been co-opted globally by these corporations and their wealthy elite controllers.

          Concurrent with the election boycotts we must consider a constitutional convention, outside the present corrupt system.

          Someone is finally talking about this, I am elated!


          “Today when we reread this, and look at around at our current state of affairs, we have to consider that the existing system, the kleptocracy, is rotten beyond redemption. The issue is to ascertain how much this is the fault of the existing government having run rogue of the Constitution, and to what extent the Constitution itself is no longer adequate to the challenges liberty faces.

          That’s the core question for the new constitutional convention we must undertake, at least first in discussion, whether or not we the people can ever sufficiently organize to later in real practice. Specifically, the great evil which afflicts us is the rise of the corporation and of corporate power. The kleptocracy is in brief a government and a system of practices, mores, and memes which have been completely hijacked by corporate organized crime and turned to the exclusive aims of gangsters: to aggrandize their wealth and power.”

          More here …


          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    2. Rex

      Post peak oil I think we are all screwed. Without the cheap and portable energy I don’t see how the world will be able to support the population it already has.

      Who wins or loses in the ensuing dark ages remains to be seen but the upheaval should probably be chaotic and unpredictable, other than that it will be painful and unpleasant.

      1. attempter

        No doubt. But if only we had the sanity to use what oil-driven wealth is still left to ease the descent, there could be so much less pain and unpleasantness along the way.

        Probably not gonna happen…

  8. Andrew Bissell

    Took our old Accord to college when it had 130,000 miles and 12 years on it. 5 years later when I moved to the city, I handed it back to the family and they’re still using it for regular work commutes, albeit with no A/C.

  9. Abhishek

    Consumerism as a culture is alive and well.In countries like Indian and China with massive population the culture is leading to increased consumption and consequent waste following the Western model.A change in societal norms and practices will be needed to promote a culture of sustainability

  10. IsabelPS

    “Barrett said that some economists are exploring one possible solution: a move toward a future of “steady state economics,” in which a high quality of life exists with no economic growth, since economic growth has (so far) driven growth in material consumption.”
    I keep hoping that this new paradigm matures in time for my country, Portugal, whose “non-growth” makes headlines these days in what I am more than half convinced is a misleading way.
    Incidentally, I was just reading this blog that seems to connect somehow with what you are saying, albeit in an extreme way:

  11. Namazu

    Heresy! Every New Keynesian knows we should break windows,dig up holes and fill them in,level houses, and generally conflate activity with wealth. In GDP we trust!

  12. xenadu

    I can tell you as a software developer, bloat is never on anyone’s feature list. The problem is that the 20% of the features you use don’t overlap with anyone else’s 20%, the end result being that any attempt to cut a tiny obscure feature results in huge outcry from the portion of the users who love that feature.

    Most people don’t give a crap about the “word count” feature, but column writers and college students do, so if you omit it the journalist reviewing your software will deride it for its lack of functionality, because he/she views “word count” as a must-have, even though most people don’t care.

    Furthermore, given the advances in hardware and the upgrade cycle, I can decide to add a new feature (and thereby directly increase future sales), or I can optimize existing code for a small short-term gain that will be quickly overwhelmed by faster hardware, larger memory, etc. No one today cares that some part of the macro loading code in MS Office written in 1996 was hand-optimized to make it really really fast on a 486 PC. On a modern computer it literally makes a statistically insignificant difference to execution times and memory use. So in economic terms, that was a wasted effort. There *is* a limit to how far you can take this – you can’t totally ignore performance, but for most situations it is far less important than people realize.

    Trust me – we software engineers are well aware of the trade-offs involved, we just happen to have learned what the market says it wants (less bloat) is not what the market will pay for (new features). You can guess which one wins.

    1. alex

      My favorite joke is that the real way for a major software company to make money is by investing in hardware companies. Or maybe the hardware companies secretly prop up the software companies (Gates and Ballmer are puppets!). Produce a new version of your software that forces people to buy newer hardware.

      Seriously, I understand your point that bloat is not considered a feature, and you have to do what you (at least perceive) the market wants. When using software that must maintain compatibility with other users though (e.g. MS Word files) you’re stuck in a vicious cycle. I still use MS Office 2003, and don’t see any advantage to 2007. At some point I’ll have to upgrade though.

      While I’m primarily an electrical engineer I also write software for embedded applications. That’s a little more bloat conscious as you’re selling hardware and software from the same vendor and bloated software would require more powerful hardware and raise the product price. In markets where hardware and software are marketed separately (e.g. PC’s) it’s kind of strange because the software vendor isn’t concerned about the price of the required hardware. Anyone who opposes the next great feature bloat release is cast as a dinosaur who’s too poor or cheap to get new hardware.

    2. michael

      Wow, you’re lucky. I’ve had to constantly fight with marketing and higher ups to keep the bloat out of various projects i’ve worked on. Bloat certainly was on the feature list.

      Features bloat in software because the salesmen need something new to keep the sales ever increasing, or to justify the subscription and support fees.

      Strangely, features bloat in free software too, but for different reasons – projects that aren’t ‘active’ (i.e. busy making themselves simply work in the first place, or adding feature bloat) are seen as ‘dead’, and end up being overlooked for more active, but less mature products.

  13. Tim

    The solution is easy! No real financial reform on derivatives or anything else. In a few years – not buying, dumpster diving, re-purposing etc will be more mainstream.

  14. Siggy

    Cars today will last longer than cars made 30 years ago. Computers today will last as long as computers manufactured 20 years ago provide that the computer of twenty years ago had a good heat sink and fan. What makes computers of current manufacture potentially better is that they will accomodate a 64 bit data structure. Beyond that current computers are no faster than they were 20 years ago because the internal bus is still in the realm of 6 herz.

    I don’t believe in green consumerism. You want greener, consume less.

    And by the by, has anyone measured the contribution to greenhouse gases that is made by the drug induced flatulence of an aging population? Now that is something we need to address.

  15. Debra

    Another area where I can trot out my favorite mantra… it all hangs together.
    My age 20 kids in junior high school never learned anything like.. sewing a button on, for example. Or even how to type. They got stuck behind dinosaur computer equipment to learn how to operate software that would be obsolete in two years…
    Who knows how to repair anything these days, in a culture (in France at least) where manual labor still suffers from the stigma of not being intellectual enough for the middle class ?
    And when you take something to be repaired (if you’re a repair idiot like me..) and they tell you it will cost more to repair it than to buy a new one ?
    Our car is going on 300,000 kms (not miles, no…).
    It has no electronics. Up until recently we had it kept up religiously (!!!) by a magic, Mr Fixit man whose joy on this earth was tinkering with car engines.
    Now.. he is out of a job. Electronics have so changed the car mechanic’s job that he didn’t really want to do it any more.
    Our Renault 19 is a tank that is still going. I hope to nurse it along for a few more thousand kilometers, by keeping it up religiously.
    For the clothes, my 20 year old son used to come home and throw his “worn once” jeans into the washing machine because they were dirty…
    LOL. I cured him of that particularly wasteful attitude in a hurry. By telling him that too much washing (of clothes, of body…) wears things out faster.
    The ideology telling us to buy, and that we will find meaning to life in buying is everywhere. Along with… the publicity, of course.
    Gotta think in order to perceive it. But the good news is… thinking doesn’t cost anything, last time I checked.

    1. alex

      “Our car is going on 300,000 kms (not miles, no…).
      It has no electronics. Up until recently we had it kept up religiously (!!!) by a magic, Mr Fixit man whose joy on this earth was tinkering with car engines.
      Now.. he is out of a job. Electronics have so changed the car mechanic’s job that he didn’t really want to do it any more.”

      Some people gave up when those new-fangled electric starters came along too. They complicated everything – solenoid, starter motor, alternator, battery – what an overcomplicated mess!

      Are you sure your car has no electronics? How old is it? Here in the US I haven’t seen a car made in over 20 years that didn’t have at least an ECU (Engine Control Unit computer). And the electronics have improved things – lower emissions, better fuel mileage, less maintenance.

      Disclaimer: I am an electrical engineer.

      1. skippy

        After pestering my grandfather for my own tractor (old John Deere A sitting around for ages) to help with cutting hay/brush cutting (mans job-most dangerous) vs baling and harvesting. He gave me a arms length of 80 grit sandpaper and a wire brush, which after many afternoons he resprayed, changed fluids and sorted tires out. The last thing we did was crack open the magneto and clean up the points…after only a few turns the engine sprang to life.

        Skippy…10/15 years of sitting there and bang back to work…love magneto’s…the AK-47 of electron generators.

  16. B-hamster

    Green Consumerism is merely a way for us to feel warm and fuzzy about maintaining our hugely wasteful western lifestyles. In a world of finite and dwindling resources, we will someday have no choice but to revisit the mantra of infinite and perpetual economic growth.

    Sure, we can all maintain things that we purchase today and things like vehicles maybe more durable, but we drive more, consume more, own/lease more, live in much larger homes and rent storage units for more of our ‘stuff.’

    Add to the mix the Asian cultures aspiring to the lifestyle of the US/Europe and it paints a bleak picture of who gets the remaining oil, timber, ore, water, coal, methane, etc.

    Fortunately I’ve begun scaling back my lifestyle in anticipation. When I purchased a few years back, my realtor called my 800sf home a ‘starter’ home. I told her it was my ‘ender’ home.

  17. charcad

    Why has the public so meekly accepted planned obsolescence? All sort of products, from cars to consumer durables to consumer electronics used to have much longer average lives in service.

    Sure they did. Let’s take a practical example with US-made Black & Decker power tools compared to more recent Chinese manufactured “Stanley Black & Decker” tools. (NYSE: SWK) B&D is generally a “consumer” brand. B&D’s factories were still in the USA as late as the early 1990s. And these tools lasted a long time. I have a B&D 3/8″ power drill from 1991, plus a 1/4″ B&D drill I inherited and which dates to the 1960s. Both these tools are heavily made. So is my early 1990s circular saw. This has seen heavy service including a fair amount of 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick steel cutting with abrasive cutoff blades.

    When B&D “offshored” it added reduced material specifications to go with its cheaper Chinese labor. As of last year B&D still maintained their engineering center in Maryland. If you look at the current offerings you can see the copper motor windings are much thinner and so are the rest of the parts. These devices break much sooner. Yet Wal-Mart still offers them with 1 year and longer guarantees.

    I’m sure some Yale MBA brightlight (or were they from Harvard?) noticed that consumers on average only use a power tool a few times before the warranty period is up. Consequently B&D could “afford” to retain the warranty for marketing purposes while still reducing the true effective lifespan through lowered material specifications.

    This is an excellent MBA optimization problem. What percentage of warranty returns can we tolerate before the costs outweigh the profit of selling predestined landfill filler?

    The net savings were then be paid out to executives as “performance bonuses” with leftovers tossed on the floor for the shareholders.

    Could B&D raise the material specifications and effective service life of their consumer tools back up to the old standard? Sure. Obviously we’re proposing to divert cash flow from the bottom line into Cost of Goods Sold.

    Now Yves, what will your Manhattan friends, neighbors, colleagues, clients, classmates and enemies at Goldman Sachs do to SWK’s share price? They will:

    a. Recommend SWK as an Eagle Scout Green Good Citizen Buy?

    b. Instantly short sell the hell out of it and then downgrade it because of anticipated reduced EPS?

    On the consumer side the consumer has often been slow to notice the reduction in real quality. In my opinion this is an induced blind spot resulting from reduced average real earnings. The choice between a $19.95 Skil or B&D drill or $59.95 for a Bosch or $99.95 for a Porter Cable is easier.

    Professional tradesmen know these consumer tools are trash waiting to find a dumpster. That’s why Milwaukee Electric, Bosch, Hilti & Porter Cable are still around.

    By the way, “bottom” here is touched at Harbor Freight with their essentially disposable consumer power tools with 30 day warranties.

    I think we can extend this micro-economic example quite far across the macro economy.

    1. alex

      “On the consumer side the consumer has often been slow to notice the reduction in real quality.”

      One of the problems with being a consumer is that it’s hard to know when something is more expensive because it’s better and when it’s more expensive just because it’s more expensive or has a fancy brand name. It’s what puts the lie to the neoclassical economist’s assumption that we all have perfect knowledge of the available alternatives (obtained at negligible cost in time and dollars of course) and can instantly and effortlessly evaluate all those alternatives.

      Maybe I buy a new power tool every few years. I’m not enough of a tool freak to spend most of my spear time discussing alternatives with knowledgeable friends. So how do I know if B&D is cheap because it’s a bargain or because it’s a piece of garbage? A lot of times unfortunately I don’t. The less often you buy or use something the harder it is to know.

      “Professional tradesmen know these consumer tools are trash waiting to find a dumpster. That’s why Milwaukee Electric, Bosch, Hilti & Porter Cable are still around.”

      Which says good things about the market – there are still alternatives available and the people in the best position to know realize that they’re worth the money. It also brings up the question of how good a quality product the weekend handyman needs. There have always been genuinely “professional grade” tools that cost more but are worth it for people who use them every day. What about the weekend handyman? How to evaluate the cost/durability tradeoff?

      1. Lidia

        I think the way to confront the “cost/durability” trade-off is to approach it sideways: have more family members, friends or neighborhood groups share better tools that are infrequently used by individuals.

        Maybe as people down-size in terms of both space and “stuff”, and are more sensitized to not buying things that will soon go into a landfill, they’ll be more open to renting good tools to the extent that a tool rental business could stay afloat.

        Towns have libraries of books, why not libraries of tools (with appropriate security deposit)? Now that I think of it.. a public tool library probably would not work for liability reasons, sadly.

        For small jobs, a return to hand tools (which, even if not top-quality, are less wasteful of materials). I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone use an eggbeater drill, but I want one!

        1. djt

          Berkeley has a tool library that is much loved and frequented by residents. I used it extensively when building a house to avoid purchasing tools. I ended up purchasing about $2000 in daily-use tools and borrowed everything else. It’s a great idea and works really well.

          1. Lidia

            Ahh. Berkeley.. well.. that’s one of those “People’s Republics” ;-)

            Oh, and the kids’ toys thing in the US is astounding, simply astounding. With four rooms entirely over-run with toys, my sister’s two kids alone have more toys than would fit in the toy store for the whole town where I live overseas. [The whole culture here just don’t seem to be on the toy/present bandwagon at all.]

            Unfortunately the school and the local culture re-inforce the toy/present mania with their endless birthday parties. When I was growing up, I remember going to maybe 2-3 birthday parties/year for my closest friends; there’d be 6-8 kids, a de-frosted Pepperidge Farm cake, and spumoni. Now you have to rent the Gymboree or the giant inflatable place or pay for ChuckECheese or McDonald’s and give out junky favors for 30 kids a crack (God forbid you don’t have a “theme”!!) and it costs a couple hundred bucks at least, often more like $500 and up. And in the suburbs, they all do this in lockstep. On top of that, you have to buy a present every other week for your kid to give to some other kid in the class. People are going broke with this stuff. Someone has to step in and just say no, but parents seem to succumb to either guilt or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. On the breakage front, that’s a feature not a bug… (for the toy makers).

          2. alex

            Lidia: “a de-frosted Pepperidge Farm cake, and spumoni”

            Decadence! In your mother’s day they didn’t have frozen cakes – if you wanted a cake you made it yourself from scratch. Go back another generation or so (before mechanical refrigeration) and you wouldn’t have had ice cream either, let alone that fancy spumoni stuff. If you did have ice cream you made it yourself with ice, salt and a hand crank.

            This whole “back in my day” stuff is funny. Speaking of “back in my day”, when I was a child in the 1960’s there were many tales of how spoiled and indulged we modern kids were compared to “back in my day” (1). Now we’re doing it. Can we carry this on ad infinitum? Will my children someday regale their children with tales of their spartan childhoods, and how they had to walk to school in the snow, 5 miles, uphill both ways.

            (1) Sam Levenson’s “Everything but Money” is a classic of this genre (published 1966).

        2. charcad

          Here you go, Lidia,


          I’d advise against buying any “new” manual drills. I saw new Fiskars with lots of plastic being offered. We had a “new” manual meat grinder for some years. It was a GATT free trade version made with lots of plastic. We’ve since retro-upgraded to an antique all-iron meat grinder. This was cast and machined in Yankee New England early last century.

          1. lidia

            Thanks charcad, older is the way to go, and all-metal. Many objects have the planned obsolence of a even a single plastic gear that becomes irreplaceable and so out the whole shebang goes.

            I just threw out a gravy separator because (being made of polycarbonate plastic) it cracked in the line of duty; straining hot broth. It’s too much to ask these days that objects actually fulfill their function; for that you have to pay extra. Glass gravy separator in my future along with the metal hand drill.

            I wrote a whole post about garbage that got lost, inspired by a PSA on the side of a dumpster that said “Would you buy garbage?” (kicker) “You already are..” It took me a while to even figure out what that meant, which shows you how even people who are somewhat sensible to the issue can be blinded by conventional thinking. That message about buying garbage really hit me when a couple of days later I went into a big warehouse store, and saw a whole pallet of monodose bottled waters that was as tall as me. Staggering. What was being sold (and bought) there was virtually 100% brand-spanking new garbage.

            The garbage aspect at this point is a large part of most purchases out there, and businesses could not be happier: selling durable product is less profitable than selling throwaway products+garbage.

            So now every time I consider a purchase big or small, I try to evaluate the extent to which what I am buying is “pre-garbage”.

        3. alex

          “have more family members, friends or neighborhood groups share better tools that are infrequently used by individuals”

          I’ll always borrow from family or friends before I buy, but that’s because I’m cheap. OTOH I’ll happily lend tools to anyone whom I trust to treat them decently.

          “they’ll be more open to renting good tools to the extent that a tool rental business could stay afloat”

          We have tool rental businesses around here – I didn’t think they were unusual. I never thought about renting a drill or a circular saw, but I have rented things like a jack hammer and a floor chipper. The rental prices weren’t bad.

          “I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone use an eggbeater drill, but I want one!”

          I have one but I think it was a hand-me-down from my father. Good hand tools last an amazingly long time – my father is 82 and has some hand tools that were hand-me-downs from his father. They’re not used out of sentimentality or anything, they’re just still perfectly good tools.

      2. charcad

        We might well get back to “high quality” by a circuitous route. I think the price of future tools will include the social and legal tolerance for injuries. Trends in recent decades in the USA say this tolerance is likely to be close or equal to 0.0

        Here’s some interesting widgets. “SawStop” technology that stops a saw blade in .001 second after it detects the presence of flesh (via electrical conductivity).


        Of course table saws so equipped carry premium prices. About $1,500 right now.

        A federal jury in a product liability case in Massachusetts recently concluded it was unreasonable for One World Technologies to market their bottom of the barrel Ryobi (Made In China) table saws without incorporating SawStop (TM)technology to prevent injuries.

        It’ll be interesting to see if the Appeals Court and maybe the Supreme Court uphold a court decision that effectively grants a monopoly to Stephen Gass and SawStop LLC.

        The cost of an accident to a commercial shop is high. That is, it’s high for commercial shops using legal employees and paying workman’s compensation and liability insurance premiums. Well-run professional shops are already buying Saw Stop equipped tools since the extra cost is very incidental compared to other costs.

        Who knows? Consumers (who look more like serfs every day) might be reduced to using only hand tools due to the future very high cost of power tools. A similar state of affairs existed in medieval times under the craft guilds and serfdom.

        Alternately this society could collapse due to the excessively high costs of the government regulatory, legal, medical and educational systems.

        1. alex

          “The cost of an accident to a commercial shop is high. That is, it’s high for commercial shops using legal employees and paying workman’s compensation and liability insurance premiums.”

          The whole idea of legal employees and the need for workmen’s comp and liability insurance is all part of the regulatory and legal stuff that you later complain about.

          1. charcad

            My point is that “consumers” may soon not be able to purchase any manufactured table saw for less than $1500.00. Table saws have been shop built before and they can be again. Most of them won’t be as safe as the products driven off the market in the cause of greater safety. But our Bar must be satiated.

            Patent lawyer and Physics Ph.d Stephen Gass claims he offered his saw stop technology to various saw manufacturers for “$200.00”. I question whether it can be incorporated for that little. And what his rate might be post verdict I have no idea.

            We can anticipate similar premiums being attached to other power tools. Take routers for instance. These also would be much safer with miniaturized SawStop braking devices fitted.

            In permitting this case to go to a jury framed in this manner the trial judge invited them to grant SawStop LLC an effective monopoly. They obligingly did this by way of a $1.5 million verdict for a plaintiff who admitted he had removed all the safety features that were on the Ryobi table saw top.

  18. Tor

    I agree with others that cars are actually getting better (year-to-year noise and Toyota gas pedal problems aside). If I recall correctly Consumer Reports have shown this in their statistics too.

    Electronics are bad with life but it is tricky when there is so significant technological development year to year. Difficult to see how people would want to continue to use their old cell phones/digital cameras/laptops from 5 years ago when the new products are so much better. But sooner or later this trend in electronics will come to an end.

    I think there are a lot of other appliances and household items where we have lost a lot of quality for no good reason other than price (which isn’t a good reason). Here I think we have an obligations as consumers to educate ourselves, make sure we get quality, and maintain the things we have.

  19. djt

    There are some very important issues wrapped up here and in the comments. My family focuses on using less and using things a long time and only buying things that will last a long time. We have three cars whose average age is 12 years. I still use a 10 year old cell phone. I’ve been riding the same bicycle frame for 15 years and recently built up a bike for a friend using 25 year old Campagnolo components. We sew buttons back on, repurpose articles, sell things, give things to people we know that need them, or go without (and we are in the upper 2-3% in annual income in the country). The absolute worst offender by far is kids toys. We try to avoid big plastic molded junk, but there is no way to steer relatives into giving toys that augment what the kids have that have demonstrated enduring, generational interest; or toys that do not become useless with a single missing part. The waste in kids toys is astounding.

    The current means of consumption is not green but significantly greener consumption is possible.

    1. Vangel

      We have three cars whose average age is 12 years.

      It is a lot easier to run old cars today than it was 30 years ago, when cars became unsafe, wore out or rusted out much sooner.

      The absolute worst offender by far is kids toys. We try to avoid big plastic molded junk, but there is no way to steer relatives into giving toys that augment what the kids have that have demonstrated enduring, generational interest; or toys that do not become useless with a single missing part. The waste in kids toys is astounding.

      There is no bigger waste than giving toys that kids do not want to play with. My kids never wanted the wooden blocks that could last 30 years because in the modern world there is a lot that deserves their interest a lot more than wooden blocks. Kids are no longer content to play with the same toy in the same way as before because they have so many more options than ever before.

      From what I can tell you are trying to apply outdated sensibilities on an era in which they do not apply.

  20. NOTaREALmerican

    Green sheem. If you want to be green, don’t have kids. The present value of all your carbon footprints go to zero. Plus, for the liberals, this absolves all your future guilt (unfortunately, there’s nothing that I know about that can do that for your past guilt).

    Otherwise, all this green consumerism is just guilt-ridden liberals deluding themselves – as usual. (Hey, I’ll fly to Europe and offset my airplane carbon footprint. Keeey-Righsst, gimmy a break!)

  21. RSDallas


    I have been in the homebuilding industry for close to 25 years now and I can tell you that this so called “Green” movement is nothing but a sham. It all started when the utility companies launched an ad campaign and low and behold it caught on.

    Now, should there be an energy program with an emphisis on conserving energy? Yes, by all means. I really think that America has Obama’s plan figured out for what it is, a SCAM. You have to be real stupid to stand behind the carbon tax rip off scheme. The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself on this issue.

    Please, everyone get out and vote in this upcoming election. This administration has to go!

  22. john c. halasz

    Reducing or even just holding steady consumption levels implies reducing the profitability and thus the “value” of productive capital stocks, in the face of ever rising levels of technical productivity. IOW, a “steady state economy” would be significantly a post-capitalist economy, relying on controls on resource uses, a more public/collective organization of the provision of “goods”, (such as, e.g., transportation infrastructure or recycling infrastructure), a different means of measuring “efficiency” that monetary exchange-value, and a more cooperative mechanism for distributing employment and leisure. Good luck with all that!

    1. attempter

      A “capitalist” economy requires exponentially increasing energy supplies to support exponentially increasing “growth”, both on to infinity.

      Good luck with that!

      (Oh, right, you’re expecting aliens to bring more oil. The same aliens who are also going to be your next “consumer” base. But how do you think they can do both at the same time?

      Right – two different sets of aliens.)

  23. Debra

    I suppose that I am an incorrigible advice giver… sorry about that.
    Right around the time that my kids were growing out of toys… (think about it, our ancestors did not even have toys… sometimes a girl would have a hand made doll, for example, but that was it. Don’t think I’m romanticizing the past here, because I’m not, but toys are basically a way of occupying our children while they are waiting to become adults, you know. They don’t need to be elaborate or sophisticated. The less sophisticated a toy is, the MORE a child has to use his imagination (and that means intelligence) to get it to take him somewhere.)
    As I was saying, right about the time my kids were growing out of toys, I figured out that it was better to have a small number of well made, sturdy toys that were versatile, and would get their imaginations working.
    Stuff like.. the wooden train sets, that you can take apart and put together in infinite possibilities.
    But my son was keenest on making his own toys. Out of sticks, cardboard boxes, string. Sometimes they worked, and sometimes not. But he was using his imagination.
    The really interesting question is… why do we think that our kids need to have toys to keep them occupied ?? This is NOT an absolute given, you know.

    1. alex

      “why do we think that our kids need to have toys to keep them occupied ?? This is NOT an absolute given, you know”

      You’re getting carried away. People don’t _need_ lots of things they have. As a lad, when dinosaurs roamed the earth (ok, woolly mammoths), we managed to live without cell phones or home computers. I’ve even heard tales from my ancestors about life without radio, TV or dishwashers. As much as we think of all books as somehow more virtuous than other forms of entertainment, I’m not convinced that novels are a necessity either. Before Gutenberg (and even long after) most people couldn’t afford them.

      How far do you want to go? Much as the mountains of cheap toys are overdone these days, giving kids a few toys doesn’t seem like a horrible indulgence. They even predate home computers!

  24. gordon

    Wow, does this post take me back! Shades of Kenneth Boulding and Herman Daly! I feel young again! Where are the beads, where is the incense? Where did we go wrong?

  25. Vangel

    Why has the public so meekly accepted planned obsolescence?

    I am sorry to point this out, but I think that you just made an error. You seem to accept the argument that consumers buy goods that become obsolete relatively quickly because they have little choice but to follow where the producers lead them. I suggest that the opposite is true; producers make goods that become obsolete faster than before because that is what today’s consumers prefer. (Why make an expensive CRT based TV monitor to last 40 years when the advancement of technology will produce a much better product in just a few years?)

    One of my favourite sports movies is Field of Dreams. Not too long ago I was watching it with my eleven year old son when he pointed out something that did not make much sense to him. It was the whole, ‘if you build it, they will come,’ line. He pointed out a number of nearly empty developments in our area where investors put up buildings but the merchants did not come and could not figure out how a farmer could put his family at risk by building a field in the hope that people would show up and pay to watch games played by ghosts.

    I had to think about his point and concluded that his instinct was right. The, ‘if you built it they will come,’ argument comes from the discredited Marxist view of the world, where producers call the shots and consumers follow. In the real world the successful entrepreneurs do not follow build something in the hope that consumers will come. It is BECAUSE the consumers will come that they build it. They are reacting to demand by creating a new supply, not create supply in the hope of generating demand. In the real world the shots are called by consumers who vote with their money, not with the producers who make things.

    To sum it up, I think that, like many of us occasionally do, you have fallen for the Marxist argument that claims that producers are in charge and that consumers have little choice but to follow. I suggest that an objective view of economic history shows us that the opposite is true. It is consumers, who vote with their purchasing power that dictate where the producers go.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      I suggest you watch the BBC series “The Century of the Self” (on Google video) and then we might talk. It rather decisively disproves your thesis.

      Do consumer natively hunger for new goods when they have perfectly usable stuff already? No, it’s called marketing, and companies spend fortunes on it, not just the implementation, but the research.

      And “Marixst propoganda” is an oxymoron. Marxists have no access to major or even minor media these days.

      1. Vangel

        I disagree. If you look at the media you see far more Marxist sentiment among the reporters and editors than you see a free market orientation. (Krugman is a lot closer to Marx than he is to Mises.)

        You also seem to misunderstand how the market works. Marketing on its own cannot save a bad product. All it can do is make a good one popular faster. I do not own an i-pone because of the marketing. I own it because some of the applications that are made for it make my life a lot easier. Had RIM came out with similar applications I would have a Blackberry now.

        From what I can tell, the consumer market is working as it should. Consumers choose certain products because they do not feel like paying much higher prices for products that will become obsolete long before they wear out. Contrary to what you or the BBC seem to think, reality proves that consumers want better products even as the ones they own are perfectly usable. Would you still use your perfectly good energy-inefficient, low-resolution CRT monitor when you can buy low priced monitors that are orders of magnitude better? And aren’t many products much more durable than ever before? I don’t know about you but my Toyota has lasted 13 years and 350,000 km on it and can still go another 50K or so. That is a lot longer than cars that were manufactured in the 1970s would last. And if I chose to devote the same percentage of the annual pay for furniture today as I would have in 1970 the furniture that I purchased today would be of higher quality and last longer. The same is true of a lawnmower, stereo receiver, blender, electric shaver, or anything else that you choose to name.

        I suggest that you have fallen for a myth that you cannot support with any empirical evidence. For the average consumer things are a lot better today than ever before.

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