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We vote for candidates to represent our concerns on the local and national levels. There are obvious shortcomings to our political system, but really it is the illusion that this is our only means of affecting change and the abdication of personal responsibility that is most problematic. Whether we like it or not, our consumer driven society puts much of our power in our pockets rather than our votes.
The products/services we purchase and our patterns of consumption send hundreds of signals every day about our preferences and willingness to pay for various environmental, social and health related attributes. For instance, by buying “Organic” Milk or “Cage-Free” Eggs we suggest that we care about health, the environment and are willing to pay a dollar extra for them.
There are myriad problems with this system, most notably markets tend to commodify our concerns and force us to pay a premium for them. This among among many other reasons is why unfettered markets are absolutely inadequate. On the other hand, there are just as many if not more opportunities related to the nature of our consumption where we can both express our preferences and save money in the process. Making sure to switch the lights off at night and the AC during the day, saves money and tells the utility that we don’t need them to invest in additional power plants and transmission lines which result in higher electricity rates and unnecessary emissions.
We complain about feeling powerless, but the truth is, as we move further into this “MY/I” world, we have an opportunity to empower ideals and affect change. That is, if we choose to take responsibility for our choices. Otherwise, “My/I” will continue to be an effective opiate for a disillusioned generation.
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