In a May 30, 2010 op-ed in The Boston Globe, Juliet Schor ’75, the author of a new book Plentitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, offers some observations about the U.S. economy and how it can improve for the better. She argues that a debt and consumption-led process in not a viable way to build wealth.
Schor observes changes in some Americans’ attitudes toward consumption. She asks: “Do Americans need more cellphones, cheap air travel, and junk food?” and goes on to write: “A growing number of people are answering that question in the negative, pioneering a lifestyle that is less focused on buying. … What people are losing in consumer goods they are making up in creative activity and social connection. Vegetable gardening has exploded since the recession began. Urban poultry is all the rage. Do-it-yourself activity is also extending to small-scale electricity generation and home construction using eco-friendly materials. People are coming together to help each other with their projects, consciously building social capital and interdependence.”
Schor suggests that “long-term economic well-being depends centrally on productivity performance, which is closely tied to investment. Investment, whether it’s in machinery, education, or natural resources, increases future wealth by building assets and enhancing productivity.”