Wiki Contributions


Why consumerism is good actually

Consumers, in the "consumerism" worldview exist only to receive goods. It's a primarily self-centered orientation to the world, and that's why people sneer the word with such a moralizing tone.

Imagine the opposite of consumerism is producerism. Producing time-saving conveniences, building stuff, retaining walls and, heck, even trivial trinkets. Producing is a "nice thing to do." An active life working and valuing the things you wished you valued while helping others in the small, tedious ways that the economy rewards a person for.

But a "consumerist" is a distracted, binge-watching, GrubHub couch potato perhaps sporting a part-time BS job. People are afraid of living in a "distraction/hedonistic/morally corrupt/selfish society". And part of the reason this objection to society comes up so much is that (probably mistakenly) they think the following:

  1. many jobs are BS 2a) much of what people purchase is not actually valuable, only perceived as such. 2b) much of what we buy, our best selves would not.
  2. much of what society nudges us towards (in music, in carbon emissions, in social values) is not in our own or our collective best interests.
AMA: Ben Reinhardt, Speculative Technologies

How much pressure is currently being applied to Congress to break some of the bottlenecks on energy abundance? How much more is needed?

AMA: Ben Reinhardt, Speculative Technologies

What's your theory of management going in to Speculative Technologies?

AMA: Ben Reinhardt, Speculative Technologies

What advances in material science would have to occur for it to be as exciting to investors and average people as software? i.e. is the world of bits going to remain the dominant arena of novel creations for the next century?

A 21st Century Progress Myth

I resonate with this. The issue is that culture is particular, but the type of progress the progress studies is generally committed to is civilizational (tech and institutions) not cultural (art and meaning). A community dedicated to progress would instantly become significantly more narrow if it committed to some particular vision of what is valuable and meaningful. While I am fairly committed to a particular vision of how to integrate civilization and culture to create a meaningful life, I wouldn't want the Progress Forum to commit to a particular view of, say, family values or the status of rituals in society.

Your video is still a broad tent view of meaning. Yet, I'd like to hear how one can actually engage in the project you describe without becoming partisan some particular view of what makes a meaningful life.

Who wants a gift subscription to Matt Yglesias's Substack, Slow Boring?

Hi Jason, Matt is certainly one the substackers I sometimes most regret not having a sub to!

Eli Dourado AMA

What is the relationship between public policy and the imagination?

Eli Dourado AMA

What formative things between the ages of 14 and 24 made you who you are today?

Why pessimism sounds smart

One reason I hear for pessimism is not merely Clive Thompson's point that dystopian scenarios are easy to imagine, but that we've already created dystopias. It's NOT merely imagination. We've already dropped atomic weapons, created murderous totalitarian governments, and starved millions of people to death through blithe mismanagement. As proof of concept such things have already happened, they could be scaled, and if they happen again, they will be bigger and badder. It's hard for most people to imagine unknown future good things that outweigh "knowable" future horrors.

P.S. can I get a deep dive on whether the 20th century is rightly called "the bloodiest century"? It seems obviously so. But I would like to see the data sliced several different ways.

Tyler Cowen AMA

Are current US rates of growth and disruption enough to keep protectionist interest groups from outpacing innovation (#MancurOlson)? Comparing your 2003 work and present work, it seems, at least to me, that your sense of how culture works has changed, namely the extent to which culture and individuals are elastic. What's your current view here?

Load More