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May 6th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should Americans cut back on consumerism?

ALT TEXT

Solar panels are installed on a home's rooftop.(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans will have to cut back on their consumerism because it's hurting the environment... So says Oregon's Governor Ted Kulongoski.
He tells the New York Times that when it comes to some environmental regulations, it's a lifestyle issue, because we Americans have a love affair with consumerism and consumption.

The governor says that other than taxes, the hardest thing to talk with his constituents about is changing their lifestyles. As an example, he points to car companies still making SUVs.

This guy is ahead of the curve - he has strongly supported renewable energy development - both by luring foreign solar manufacturers and wind companies to Oregon; and by supporting emerging technologies, like wave power.

Governor Kulongoski acknowledges that some of these changes - like transitioning away from fossil fuels - will cost people money. But he says politicians have to tell their constituents they "can't continue to consume 25 to 30 percent of the world's natural resources. It isn't possible."

He says that whatever issue he raises about energy - be it nuclear, coal, ANWR, offshore drilling, etc. - people are resistant. But it's impossible to make progress if everything is taken off the table. Oregon's governor says the U.S. has wasted about 10 years in not engaging our citizens... and that's why Europe is so far ahead of us.

He absolutely gets it.

Here’s my question to you: Do Americans need to cut back on consumerism?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Matt from Washington writes:
Of course we need to cut back, but the better question is: can we? I'd like to be optimistic, but unfortunately I think Americans would prefer to go down with the ship rather than change course.

Jerry from West Virginia writes:
Jack, They already have. Consumer spending is down. Savings are up. People are beginning to learn how to live within their means, sort of like our parents did. Isn't it refreshing?

Tony writes:
Yes and no. Consumerism wouldn't be as bad if everything wasn't disposable. Making things that last, i.e. not replacing a cell phone every year. We have taken planned obsolescence to an extreme in the last 30 years.

Roeland from Alkmaar, Netherlands writes:
As a European, it's easy for me to say, but yes I think Americans should cut back on consumerism. I've been brought up on the idea that you can spend what you earn, not what you can borrow, because the latter has to be paid back with interest.

Richard writes:
We Americans, if we are serious about confronting climate change, need to give up many things, including consumerism. You'll have to travel a lot less, be a lot hotter in the summer and a lot colder in the winter, and turn off a lot of things that use electricity, including your lights at night. And we'll have to build huge numbers of nuclear power plants to replace the coal burning plants we use now. Face it, no politician is going to say that and almost no citizen will support anyone who does.

Melanie writes:
Hmmm, let me get back to you after I open this clamshell package of disposable pens, take a swig of my bottled water, read the 80 pages of store flyers in today's newspaper and wipe down my kitchen with throw-away anti-bacterial wipes.


Filed under: Economy
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Anna

    We need to stop buying Made In China products and buy made in USA. That is what I am doing and I saved a ton of money because most of the things that we buy are made in China.

    May 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  2. Ron - Baltimore, Maryland

    Absolutely yes.

    May 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  3. Karen - Missouri

    First of all, if you live in the Ozarks Hills, you NEED a truck or SUV! Maybe not in big cities where it's flat, but trust me, in rough terrain countryside there is still and always will be a market for trucks and SUVs. Yes, people don't need so much "stuff"...but again, down here we're so busy enjoying the outdoors, we don't use much anyway. Maybe city folks can learn a few lessons. And we really don't care what everyone else has as long as we have our woods and lakes and hills. How about if the car companies invent something to retrofit older vehicles because let's face it, not everyone is going to be able to afford a new car or truck...that's a Utopia that will never happen.

    May 6, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  4. Dallen

    Too much of this consumerism helped lead us into a dire economic situation. People just need to buy things which they can afford and manage their money wisely. Jack, I'm sure you'd like to get the latest gadget every month but it's just irresponsible financially escpecially if the pocketbook is running light. Lets get common sense back into consumerism

    May 6, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  5. Dallen (San Marcos, Tx)

    Too much of this consumerism helped lead us into a dire economic situation. People just need to buy things which they can afford and manage their money wisely. Jack, I’m sure you’d like to get the latest gadget every month but it’s just irresponsible financially escpecially if the pocketbook is running light. Lets get common sense back into consumerism

    May 6, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  6. dawjaw

    Jack it all depend on what people think of consumerism in general. Most people think back to the cold war with Russia, things has changed since then. As long as people has freedom, it really done meam a hill of bean on the type of government.

    David
    Martinsburg, WV

    May 6, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Scott - Dallas, TX

    Jack, have you seen our total debt to GDP ratio? It's estimated at 370%, and that was the end of 2008. Ending consumerism is not a choice. We can choose it, or it will choose us. Consumerism isn't over, it got murdered. Welcome to the Great Depression 2.0.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  8. Douglas Ford

    I agree, we do need to cut back on foreign oils, and I think another thing that would help cut back electricity would be if people bought only energy saving light bulbs from now on, increased their air conditioning to 85 degrees when they leave the house during summer and fall and decreased it to 75 during winter and fall and turned off some of their electronics that consume major amounts of electricity when we leave our houses.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  9. Ralph Spyer chicago Il

    Jack when you have a republican running for president that does not know how many homes he has,or cars that consumerism.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  10. Maryann/Michigan

    We need to make better choices and buy American! Sometimes SUVs are necessary and most of the time they are not; it just depends on your environment and family situation. The bottom line is buy what you need and can afford, only.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  11. Justin WI

    Absolutely yes. Only when we transition to an economy that focuses more on innovation, education, and environmentally sound principles will we finally solve our economic and energy woes. It seems that we will only get the picture when sea levels rise into our coastal cities, our agriculture is dire, and cancer levels reach all time highs. This level of consumerism isn't sustainable economically, environmentally, or morally.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  12. Joe

    Jack,

    The Oregon governor shows strong moral fortitude with his remarks and actions. Unfortunately, as I see it, the rest of America needs to "hit-bottom" before any change will take place. Perhaps a few changes will take place, but I seriously doubt it.

    Joe, Binghamton, NY

    May 6, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  13. Pat from East Amherst

    yes but not for the environment, the nations credit card is getting maxed out. to prevent another major recession we need to spend less and buy what we can, not what our credit cards and credit scores allow. pay back what you charge, your screwing everyone over.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  14. Althea

    Why don't we become Europe. Isn't that what you are pushing really.
    Their is nothing wrong with consumerism if you can afford it.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  15. Michael, Columbia, MO

    living within our means and conserving our resources? i don't know what kind of impact that would have on our environment (although i can only imagine it would be positive) but you can be sure we'd be a lot better off economically if we had taken that attitude a decade ago.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  16. Cody McLelland

    Absolutely Jack! Our consumerism is predicated on our immediate post WWII standing as "The World's Economy". The world has drastically changed since 1945, and it's time we come to terms with the implications of that. Our consumerism has gotten us into this economic crisis and we need to actually learn our lesson for once.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  17. Rick, New Albany Mississippi

    Jack,

    I say buy what you like as long as you can pay for it. I think it's sad to see so many people working at jobs they hate to pay for things they don't need or waste. Time is short and so precious.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  18. Matt in DC

    Of course we need to cut back but the better question is can we? I'd like to optimistic but unfortunately I think Americans would prefer to go down with the ship rather than change course.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  19. Brian C. in St. Joe

    Yeh, sure, I can buy that argument.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  20. Charles

    Jack, do you want Americans to cut back on America?
    America is consumerism!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    Jack, we all need to continue to be hooked on oil and fried foods, big cars and powerful engines. We should keep using plastics and throwing them in our land fills until these are full and then congress and other groups can spend another 10 years talking about who is at fault while we "resist change ourselves right out of existance".

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  22. scott8035

    Of course we need to cut back on consumerism. The world can't sustain the amount of products and energy we consume the way it is, and now with China following in our footsteps, everything will be accelerating. We need to start now!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  23. Michael

    Yes all we as Americians do is consume consume consume! Michael Eugene Or

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  24. Tony Weil

    Yes and no. Consumerism wouldn't be as bad if everything wasn't disposible. Making things that last, not replacing a cell phone every year...We have taken planned obsolesence to an extreme in the last 30 years

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  25. Roeland

    As a European it's easy for me to say, but yes I think Americans should cut back on consumerism.

    I've been brought up on the idea that you can spend what you earn, not what you can borrow, because the latter has to be paid back with interest.

    Roeland, Alkmaar, Netherlands

    May 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  26. Eliza

    Absolutely! Many families are deep in debt due to mortgages they can't afford and credit card debt in the tens of thousands. We live in an "I want it & I want it now" society. It's time we seriously restructure our spending habits. It's time people started using common sense when it comes to their money and stop spending so frivolously!

    Eliza
    Maine

    May 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  27. Sean

    Absolutely! But since when did Americans ever start doing what should be done instead of what they want to do because of inconvenience or greed. It's our people. Whatcha gonna do?

    May 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  28. Dan Fleury

    I think the reality of our unemployment trends, the evaporation of our retirement accounts, homelessness and medically based bankruptcies have been pretty effective in teaching us about cutting back on our consumerism.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  29. Jacqueline Mongeot

    Of course, not only Americans need to cut back on consumerism but they must. On a personal note the excessive credit cards ppurchases would be a sufficient reason for them to do so as most of them are in big trouble. The problem underlined in your question deals with America natural resources: mainly water, and energy, All of us are guilty of squandering our natural resources without even thinking about it. It is time to pay attention and to think SMALL: smaller cars, smaller houses on smaller lots, time to think how to harness what is free: sunshine and wind. Take a look at what European countries, even small ones like Denmark, France & others are doing to produce energy,: solar energy, wind energy, hydro energy and, yes, nuclear energy. They greatly reduced the need to puchase oil from the Middle East . It took personal discipline, and leadership from their governments. If we try we could accomplish what they did.
    Jacqueline. San Diego CA

    May 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  30. Nick

    What Americans need to do is take a page from the Chinese save more! Smart saving and consuming are not mutually exclusive.

    Nick, Irvine, CA

    May 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  31. Sherry, N. Calif.

    How much does one need? Not much to survive. It is the wants that get us into trouble not the needs. Pay more attention to your needs rather than your wants and we could get on the train before it leaves. I am afraid it has left, and w/o U.S.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  32. Kevin L. / Omaha, NE

    Cutting back is a part of it. As our president says when it comes to money; "Use this money WISELY!) Received my tax return and instantly cut it in half, saved half and did everything I could with the rest. By the time important things were done, I had a total of $7 for me to spend anyway I wanted...I bought something. Just my two cents.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  33. Richard

    We Americans, if we are serious about confronting climate change need to give up many, many things, including consumerism. You'll have to travel a lot less, be a lot hotter in the Summer and a lot colder in the Winter and turn off a lot of things that use electricity, including your lights at night...
    And we'll have to build huge numbers of nuclear power plants to replace the coal burning plants we use now.

    Face it no politician is going to say that and almost no citizen will support anyone who does.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  34. mike

    we do not need to cut back our consumerism, we need to increase it. all i know is that the proponents of cutting back discuss the environment, i think that if we stop spending money and our economy fails due to this, the environment will be the least of our concerns

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  35. Chris Davis - Atlanta, GA

    At the risk of sounding cliche, if we don't cut back our children will have to pay for it. The resources we currently use will not be here forever and we need to find a way to use renewable energy. People need to recycle more, grow their own food (when they have the space), and stop buying products that are not environmentally friendly. Sure it might cost more now but in the long run it will save us money. As Michael Jackson once said in his hit song Man in The Mirror, "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change."

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  36. Cody McLelland

    Absolutely Jack! Our consumerism is predicated on our immediate post WWII standing as “The World’s Economy”. The world has drastically changed since 1945, and it’s time we come to terms with the implications of that. Our consumerism has gotten us into this economic crisis and we need to actually learn our lesson for once.

    Cody, Redlands, CA

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  37. Stephen R. Collier

    Pffft. We want what we want. Someone just needs to figure out how to make all that stuff with less energy and cost.

    Stephen
    Virginia Beach

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  38. Julie in NYC

    yes Yes YES!
    We have to learn how to prosper without wasting. Reduce, reuse, recycle and repower. But the MOST important one is REDUCE! Small steps by each person can make a difference.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  39. Tony IL

    Jack,

    I think everyone has already started cutting back. It's not because they want to but because of the economy and that's why Americans are cutting back. Americans are big on materialistic things and until everyone gets the point that you don't have to keep up with the Jones' then we are going to keep consuming. Americans in general don't like change and are probably the ones to use the phrase: "If it's not broke, don't fix it". Our need for consumerism is what got Americans into this economic mess. Buying houses you can't afford, using your house like a piggy bank, opening up several credit cards and running the max out of the credit cards. Will we ever learn, time will tell.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  40. george

    i do jack and at the same time consumer prodoucts should be built to last everything from cars to electronics. we live in a throw away society and we are costantly digging a new lanfill hole.

    i believe the courant overhauling we are dong to our economy should reflect some real change in how we deal with and adjust to this in the future.
    george
    chester,ct.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  41. kaleb

    Let's all follow Kulongoski. Did anyone mention that his state has almost 14% unemployment. Maybe those people should put wind turbines in their backyard to keep the lights on!
    Kaleb
    Vancouver, WA

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  42. carlos d

    we americans should not cut back on consumerism and keep spending at it will spark a boom to our economy.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  43. Jason, Koloa, HI

    It isn't just about cutting back, it's about redirecting where we spend our money. If we support companies that operate in a green way and produce green products we are stimulating the part of our economy that needs to be growing, the green part. Eating locally grown foods, eating less foods and buying green products not only make us feel good they help reduce costs in health care, waste management and land fills, as well as reducing the overall American carbon footprint. It is not a reduction in personal freedom, it is a free choice to make ourselves and our society healthier.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  44. jad

    Politicians think of it as a balance scale between the economy and the environment when it really is the environment thats is the 800 lbs. gorilla in a room full of penguins, loud but flightless penguins.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  45. Alex from Upstate New York

    The problem is that consumerism is 70% of our economy. We have to start growing a more production-based foundation in order to reduce our tendency to go shopping all the time. Unfortunately, like with most environmental issues, there is a paradox here. Producing things often just adds to the problems (ie by putting more carbon into the air). The one solution I keep coming back to of late is population control. Sooner than later the government will have to mandate it.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  46. Reed McGowan

    Yes Jack, Americans need to make sacrifices if we are to move forward. "Change" is not going to magically happen by itself....unfortunately, we have been conditioned into a comatose state, particularly by the last 8 years. You cannot tell drug addicts to change their habits until they either hit rock bottom, or lose their lives...this is the same scenario. Don't ask me to place a bet on the results...I don't think you'll like my answer.

    Reed
    New York City

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  47. Terri - Tulsa

    Ask Americans to stop 'keeping up with Joneses'? It needs to happen, but it's been going on for so long it won't happen overnight. Americans are addicted to having and getting more...our current economic situation proves that. It's time for an intervention, and Americans collectively need to go through financial detox.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  48. David Hobbs

    I believe at this point consumerism is too entrenched to curtail. It would be more productive for the economy and the environment if our rampant consumerism were directed toward energy efficiency and new 'green' technologies. In this way, jobs can be created and our standard of living will be preserved while still helping combat global warming.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  49. Drew

    Yes we should, and I would love to buy a Green SUV that I could hall my family around in. But I have to be able to aford it first. Show me an affordablem, environmental friendly US made vehicle that can hall my Wife, 2.3 kids, my 1.7 dogs and 1.1 cats around and all the crap that goes with them and I will do my part to support our economic recovery.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  50. frankie

    CEOs and company owners and their lobbyists etc.etc., need to cut back on the notion that consumerism, i.e. money that goes into their own pockets, is the only measure of American wealth.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  51. Andrew R

    I think the problem is with youth culture. Everything is bigger, better and all about "bling." Everywhere you turn you see the cribs on MTV showcasing excess to the max. Couple The life of the rich and famous, popular music, and trendy technology gadgets (iPhone) and you would pretty much be exiled in youth culture if you didn't have fancy phones, clothes, and a nice car. The solution is in making being more frugal popular. Impossible you may say, but kids are getting into being green, they even think its cool, and who could of seen that coming 10 years ago.

    Pittsburg, Kansas

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  52. Ian

    The Governor is correct. The path we are on now is just not sustainable. This recession has one positive effect. (I am not minimizing job loss) People have started to live within there means. I just hope that when this recession ends we won't go back to our old habits. Don't count on it though .

    Ian

    Burlington, Vermont

    P.S. Say Kulongoski fast five times

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  53. Keith - St. George, Utah

    The simple answer is yes. But it's a more complex issue. And an individual issue. Harken back to WWII and the Great Depression when many people had Victory Gardens. We all don't need to go that far, although it is a wonderful concept. Nothing like growing and eating your own fresh tomatoes. Reality should have smacked us all upside the head by now. Big gas-guzzling SUV's are not the way to go. But I say, everything in moderation, even the concept of cutting back on consumerism. After all, our economy now is based on consumerism and if we all cut back totally........ well, we will never climb out of the ditch the last administration has left us in........ Cut back, but cut back carefully and for the right reasons...........

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  54. Dave Hogan - Portland OR

    I moved here several years ago, and have to say I'm happy to see him getting some national coverage for the good he's been doing here.

    I'm not surprised to see someone comment on how they need an SUV because they don't live in a big city.

    They may want to note that Oregon has only one big city that's quite hilly, between the Coast Range and the Cascade Mountains.

    It's also relevant that the Governor is pointing out how we need to make sacrifices. Obviously some people will never be willing to do such.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  55. Stephanie from Sunrise, FL

    To an extant but you never know when you're going to die so why not enjoy buying a new handbag every now and then?

    May 6, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  56. Carey from the North Fork of Long Island

    NO. We should not change our consumerism...but we should change it. Our consumption of food, transportation, housing, vacation- what's in our home and on our screens can be made of less wasteful and with more renewable products. Our consumer society isn't bad it's just not smart.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  57. Tony St. Louis, MO

    Yes but the real problem is the affordability of green technology. You can't expect everyone to go bankrupt keeping the air clean, especially now in a recession. Most of us would drive hybrids and solarize our houses tomorrow if it wouldn't cost us the shirts off our backs to do it.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  58. Cedric

    Mr. Cafferty, I am a 18 year old, black, college student, who also lives in Alabama. GOD never told anyone to be stupid. What is so wrong with Americans cutting back. We already use around 20% of the World's resources. Mind you are only around 1% of the World's population. We, as the most powerful nation, have that responsiblity...

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  59. Pranay Kumar

    Hi Jack
    I agree with the Governor. When I came from India, I was shocked to see the amount of food served in one plate and most of the people threw it away. This is apart from polybags, extra plastic cutlery and thremocol containers. Companies dont bother about environment, overlooking the fact that it all adds up to the bottomline and social profit.

    US Dollars being the prime currency, america splurge on borrowed money and corporates have built a culture of consumerism for their short term gains.

    Hope people will rethink over it, rather than just buying corporates' philoshophy.

    cheers pk

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  60. Jennifer - Albany, NY

    Jack, the mere fact that we continue to consume a large portion of the world's resources for things that we don't need just boggles my mind. Going down the path of "business as usual" and continuing the trend of mass consumerism is not going to be possible any longer, and if we are ever going to survive as a nation, as a species, we need to learn to do more with less

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  61. John (Columbia, SC)

    Yes Jack, American's do nothing but spend and we have even seen that some are not even able to send their own children to College or able to pay for their homes. Even though we have had this crisis, people are still driving their Hummers and Suburbans and haven't realized that the newest Television won't give them a better position in life if they are just becoming further in debt. American's need to stop their excessive waste and throw out their credit cards and we could all be better off.

    -John (Columbia, SC)

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  62. Effie Trihas

    Definitely. Before this "age of consumerism" was created our parents and grandparents were taught to be frugal and resourceful – things considered virtues. Now you have to keep up with the Jones to feel like you have any worth. You need the latest and the greatest which which only becomes obsolete a week, a month, or a year from now - that is, if it doesn't break before that. You can't keep taking from the planet only to put back garage, much of it nonrecyclable. Anyone who thinks so is living in a dream, which possibly, as soon as this century, may become a very bad nightmare. Wake up America. This is one very finite planet.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  63. Jasmine W. in the green city of Marburg, Germany

    Yes. And I just fell in love with Oregon's governor. Many U.S. Americans spend on the wrong things. Hopefully the winds of change will develop better priorities and engagement. Jimmy Carter started sweeping reforms, even had solar collectors installed at the White House in 1977. What happened? The U.S. is a nation of innovation and technology, but they are a bit behind the times compared to Europe's energy saving and environmental policies.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  64. Evan K.West Frankfort, Illinois

    Absolutely. Jack, i see a lot of similarities between myself and this Governor Kulongoski. I am 14 years old and find it hard to talk to my peers about the importance of protecting our environment. This guy is talking about reall issues that others are afraid to talk about.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  65. Peter, KC

    Solar, wind, and (apparently) wave power are cute, but I currently spend more on gasoline in a week than I do on electricity in a month. If you want to talk about saving our planet and our pocketbooks, then it starts (and ends) with motor vehicles.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  66. carlos d

    we Americans should not cut back on consumerism and keep spending at the long run it will spark a boom for our economy.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  67. Sam Wood

    Jack, Im a first time blogger and love your comentary and questions.

    I dont necessarily believe that we need to cut back on consumerism as much as the need to buy more American products. We need to begin producing more things in the U.S. so consumers have good choices. Buying American is something we need to return to. President Obama made a great decision to make businesses pay whenever they move jobs overseas. Lets hope we have learned from our past mistakes and move forward.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  68. Michael Roepke - Dallas

    Jack
    God made this world so that it could make stuff.
    God made Americans so we could have stuff.
    Cutting back would be un-Godly.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  69. Nina

    Should we cut back? Why is that even a question? We are the land of milk and honey. Yet we're never satisifed. We spend to much, eat to much, indulge to much. We want to take a pill or have surgery to lose weight, we want to be instantly gratified at all times. I'm guilty of this too, but have learned to not feed into what I want so much and more into what I need. And what we need right now is for people to change and start doing their share to make this world a safer, cleaner place that God created. If not, our government needs to step up and start taxing these grocery bags we use that's killing our environment as starters!
    Nina
    Corona, CA

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  70. Mary

    Cutting back should be done and will be a whole lot easier when we have solid products made in the USA to choose from again, even if they ARE more expensive to start with. Much of the problem has stemmed from the fact that many imports simply fall apart after a short time and need to be replaced frequently – thus unnecessary, excessive spending over the years. This has been going on for years. Also, if people would be more careful the first time they buy things and if they didn't cost a fortune to repair when necessary, they might be more willing to keep them around longer. This would also help our landfill problem.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  71. Roland - St George, UT

    Considering we have one of the highest rates of obesity, I'd say yes. It has been a while since I heard enviromentalists really talking about the effects of our food consumption on the environment, but all of the clearing of rain forests for grazing land is still having an effect on the environment, not to mention the huge amounts of pollutants being produced by the fast food industry. At least with canned goods, you can recycle the cans. (Also, there is a huge concern in smoggy cities with the pollution produced by thousands of cars sitting and idling daily as they go through the fast food drive-thrus). (Roland/St George, UT)

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  72. Bruce

    Yes. We need about ten percent of what we buy. More emphasis on helping others, and less on competition would be healthy. And once again, never buy from or invest in large corporations or re-elect and incumbent.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  73. Jim Green, Seguin, TX www.Inclusivism.org

    Jack, this fellow in Oregon is not up on his research-according to Pew Research our consumerism has been on the decline since 2006—we are down 40% in car purchases, 17% in clothes dryers, 16% in home AC, 14% in dishwashers, 21% down in purchase of microwaves--no doubt much of this is due to our current economic meltdown—but this is not the time to take up consumerism-when we are getting stimulus money so we will “shop til’ we drop”!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  74. Scott - Eugene, OR

    Production also plays a key role in environmental degredation. Corporations need to start using more post-consumer products and truly recycleable goods. Also, they need to manage inventories better and use less packaging. Why should chip bags have more space for air than chips? The apathy of the consumer allows this wasteful process to continue.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  75. Alan

    I already have. No job, no money to buy anything, no gas money for the truck in the garage. The next thing to go is the dog I guess. He doesn't have a job either....

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  76. Walt Blaney

    Oregon has been ahead of the curve for the last 30 years...pushing public transportation..limiting urban sprawl, etc. Everybody I know has way too much stuff. Sometimes overflowing into storage units even. My best friend has a 4 bedroom 3500 sq foot house with a 4 car garage. He lives alone! And three of the 4 garages are packed with years worth of junk! Every stick of furniture, etc he's owned since college many years ago. Everyhousehold has to have a car for everybody living there. It's just crazy. But it's like pulling teeth to get anybody to change. It'll take some kind of disaster to get the point across I'm afraid. Walt

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  77. Jim Davis

    Yes, as Americans we must cut back on our consumption, and we need the government to make it happen. Wake up people, these are tough times, and we need our government to take control for the good of all!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  78. Jason,College Park Maryland

    Depends entirely on the consumerism you're talking about. Economists of every stripe will tell you growth comes through the exchange of goods and currency. Not only should America continue it's consumerism, it needs to spread it to the rest of the world. The US is capable of creating and manufacturing new energy and enviromental technologies that can be used worldwide. Foreign manufaturers profit from American consumerism so why shouldn't we profit from theirs. Technologies they can't mass produce in Sri Lanka for $1 a day. This is the new global economy, and the sooner we realize it, the better off we'll all be.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  79. Sara Bloom

    Jack, of course we should cut back on consumerism, but we won't. People love to talk about change, and to say they are in favor of change, and will even vote for change, as we did in the last Presidential election. But when it comes to changing, well, that's another story. As consumers, we're pretty well dug in, and I don't see anybody changing anything except maybe their socks.

    Sara
    Southold, NY

    May 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  80. Bill in Texas

    Jack:
    Americans need to cut back only on the poor choices they make with electing fools to public office. Anyone can call himself an "environmentalist," since it takes no special education, credentials, or credible background. You just declare yourself an environmentalist, and all the likeminded set up and take notice. This nonsense is what ended Al Gore's political career. I'll continue to drive my SUT, and the "lefties" and their agenda can go weigh their carbon emissions...

    May 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  81. flying wolf, Manchester NH

    Yes, way back–and not only the usual stuff like burning lights when we don't need too, driving SUV's and buying designer fluff that will end up being thrown away. Americans with homes need to cut back on having the perfect lawn–grown with chemicals that will end up in the ground water and killing all the fish and eventually their kids. Grass was originally grown on English and European estates where cows and sheep, also used on the estates, kept it mowed. There is no need for a home owner to fill a quarter to half acre of lot with grass that has to be maintained by chemicals and gas-driven mowers just to show off to his neighbors when he (and she) can grow vegetables for food and grown cover that needs little if any maintenance or excessive use of our depleting water supply

    May 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  82. David Burchell

    Consumerism is what got us into this mess in the first place. It became much worse when it became disposable consumerism in the 70's and we have put tremendous pressure on this planet ever since. We cannot base life here on earth on economies, this has been the tragic mistake of every civilization since man has been on this planet. We must base our life on ecology and where we fit in the grand scheme of things. We are meant to be the caretakers of this beautiful place and I am afraid we are failing at our job. What species poisons it's own food supply for the sake of personal gratification. It's like my grandfather said many years ago, "We are killing our grandchildren to feed our children!"

    May 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  83. Audrey Philpot

    Absolutely...Americans need to cut back on Consumerism. Excessive consumption is caused by trying to fill the hole in our psyches with stuff rather than by true fulfillment (deep inner connection), which is spiritual rather than material.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  84. Adriana

    Yes, yes, yes! We have way too much "stuff"! Why is that we always have to replace things (kitchen appliances, cars, clothes, ect.) for newer, brighter ones.? I truly believe that the "abuse" for consumerism is one of the culprits of our economic situation as well as a culprit of so many other maladies that we see and hear about like: alcoholism, teen pregnancy, child abuse and even road rage! If we weren't spending and buying things that we don't need, maybe we would have more time with our families, children and friends. Let's learn from the rest of the world that it's very possible to live a full filling life without buying so many things!

    Miami, FL

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  85. Scott Bryson

    Why is it that liberals think its wrong for Americans to consume 25 percent of the worlds resources. Do you think the Chinese or the Russians wouldn't love to be in our shoes? Jack, it's OK to be the winner!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  86. Cody NJ

    Yes! People need to get rid of this spend more than what you earn. Only buy something unless you ABSOLUTELY need it.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  87. Dennis, Costa Rica

    Absolutely. All us Americans do is talk a good game with no action. The rest of the world looks at the US as the example of what to do and all we are doing is consuming more than ever. I know, I live in a developing country that is trying to be like America. We need to change our Consumption Habits and lead the world once again before it is too late.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  88. Ken in NC

    In the 2008 election Republicans blamed Bush and the economy for their loss. In 2012 they will blame Limbaugh for their loss because Americans will have stopped buying his crap.

    That is reducing "Consumerism".

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  89. celeste handzel

    absolutely agree; we need to stop consumerism by stopping purchase of China made products and junk we don't really need. What I don't understand is why our new President can't work to bring back American companies/American made products? If it costs a few pennies more, so what? Would that not help our own economy, increasing American consumerism in our own country; creating jobs and putting our own people back to work? Am I missing something? Why are we so concerned about boosting everyone's economy but our own? I am old; doesn;t matter to me in the very short term what happens, but God help the young people.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  90. Eric Davies

    Easy to control consumerism slap a green tax on stuff people dont really need..... If it's available people will still use and overuse it...Loosing your job sure cuts back on consumerism...

    Ha Ha to start with look at the size of food portions in the USA...I often think some guys need climbing boots to even reach the top of their plates.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  91. Eric - NY

    Consumerism is not bad. A consumer driven market provides a rich and diverse economy. The key is smart consumerism. We don't necessarily need to consume less, we need to consume with minimal collateral damage, such as clean renewable energy. I applaud Governor Kulongoski's devotion to energy reform, but I believe he should execute his vision using as many domestic goods and services as possible rather than importing the goods from foreign nations. The green movement is not only crucial to save our survival, but our economy as well.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  92. Jay Hakes

    The Oregon governor has guts. We cannot solve the problem of global warming without some adjustments in life style. If we want to save energy and reduce carbon emissions, we need to have more appropriately sized homes, offices, and vehicles. The good news is we can have very nice surroundings. They just can't be as big and heavy. The U.S. share of energy consumption and carbon emissions is unsustainable.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  93. Hotshot75

    I have lived in Oregon for 29 years and I think that Oregon’s Governor Ted Kulongoski is disaster and a rabid globalist. This man worships at the feet of Al Gore and insists that humans are the cause of cyclical natural climate change.

    Yes we waste too much in this country but we have the technology to create less pollution and become more efficient without degrading into a thire world nation.

    We Oregonians are suffering from one of the highest unemployment rates in tthe nation and our govenor is fiddling while Rome burns. Our forests are unmanaged and have become insect infested fire traps. The radical environmentalists have all but shut down the timber industry and the promised tourism trade has produced minimum wage jobs where we once had industries that could support schools, roads and families.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  94. Savania

    No, the world needs a fat, insatiable, gas-guzzling America. Isn’t that the point for all the bail-outs and the ‘spend your way out of the reason’ mantra? Cutting consumerism will hurt the world. From the small cotton farmer in Egypt to a Swiss watch maker!

    Savania, London

    May 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  95. marky

    Americans are going to have to cut back on consumerism because a) induviduals wont be able to afford it, b) other nations will refuse to offer IOU's because your nation is bankrupt, c) the cheap abundant energy that has facilitated the American way of life since WW2 won't available in the quantities required, ever again. Get used to a future of diminishing returns.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  96. Russell Long, CNMI

    Should we cut back on consumerism? Of course. Will we... not likely anytime soon. We live, and for us younger folk, grew up in a disposable society. Unless that basic attitude changes we will continue to consume resources at an incredible rate; that is until market prices catch up with us and cause an economic catastrophe. Just my two cents.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  97. Ed

    It's a life style change and the Gov of Oregon gets its. The economic situation is Exhibit A of we need to change our ways. But as our President has stated the road will be tough be America has risen up to every challenge to gain greater prosperity.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  98. Matt Thorp

    Sure they should. I live in Wisconsin, and I would have to say that we keep our state pretty clean. In some other parts of the country,... not so much. Just look at Detroit & Louisiana! Eurpoe is so advanced in this area. They not only have strict laws, but also sound values when it come to preserving the natural beauty of their enviroment. We should all hang our heads in shame at the abuse that we all alow to happen. The abuse is simply all the littering that goes on. Thats what that guy from Oregon was refering to. Consumerism creates waste. Waste is the real problem people! Fo realz!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  99. joe m

    so let me get this straight. the government is saying that we need to get people's confidence back up so they will feel more comfortable able buying 'stuff' again, and this will in turn help our economy recover. now we are being told that consumerism is a 'bad' thing and we need to cut back on it to save the environment. the president is pushing for industries to get into eco-friendly products, like hybrid cars, alternative fuels, and other technologies that will get us off our addiction to gas. he argues that moving in this direction will creat american jobs. but if we are to curb our consumerism, who is suppose to buy these things. this sounds like mixed messages to me. jobs depend on consumers and their willingness to spend and buy 'stuff". confused.

    NC

    May 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  100. rpb Viburnum Mo

    I'v tried to cut back but my wife spends enough to keep a small states ecconomy going.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  101. Christopher B. - Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Yes, our economy needs change and Americans need to learn to be more conscious of the overuse of our planet's very limited resources. Americans are just far too greedy and too used to their lifestyle and are likely unwilling to adjust to a more modest lifestlye which is a shame as we are sending the wrong message to the world. We, as Americans, should lead by example.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  102. Rebecca, NY

    Asking if we need to 'cut back our consumerism' is just the beginning!
    Most realize our spending is part of our current problems, but it's how we quickly dispose the cheap, often unnecessary products and thier packaging!! that is our futures problem. As much as I enjoy a trip to Target or Wal-Mart, I know it would be better for our future if i just put my money into a compost pile to renew our earth. Not only stop consumerism, but replace that kenetic enegery with recycling or volenteering <3

    May 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  103. Eric - NY

    Consumerism is not bad. A consumer driven market provides a rich and diverse economy. The key is smart consumerism. We don’t necessarily need to consume less, we need to consume with minimal collateral damage, such as clean renewable energy. I applaud Governor Kulongoski’s devotion to energy reform, but I believe he should execute his vision using as many domestic goods and services as possible rather than importing the goods from foreign nations. The green movement is not only crucial to save to the survival of our, but of our economy as well.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  104. John, Fort Collins,CO

    No. Americans need to consume more to help the economy, but the Governor is correct; they should downsize and only "consume" energy efficient, earth-friendly things.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  105. Eric - NY

    Consumerism is not bad. A consumer driven market provides a rich and diverse economy. The key is smart consumerism. We don’t necessarily need to consume less, we need to consume with minimal collateral damage, such as clean renewable energy. I applaud Governor Kulongoski’s devotion to energy reform, but I believe he should execute his vision using as many domestic goods and services as possible rather than importing the goods from foreign nations. The green movement is not only crucial to save to the survival of our planet, but of our economy as well.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  106. marv, new jersey

    Great, lets start cutting back ON consumerism starting with ALL SENATORS, CONGRESSPEOPLE, GOVERNORS, MAYORS, ETC
    – NO MORE JUNKETS TO THIRD RATE COUNTRIES WITH LUSH BEACHES, $500 PER DAY ROOMS, ETC.
    – No First Class seats on commercial flights – coach is just fine
    – No military or private jets – coach is just fine
    – No free meals in DC – pay your own meals, etc
    – Eliminate all lobbyist provided perks
    – No skimming campaign donations for personal use
    ETC ETc ETC
    Then ill cut back on my splurging on one night in six months to a movie and dinner for my family and stick to fast foods, etc

    May 6, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  107. Matt Thorp

    The waste more often than not happens to be products that supply jobs for package designers. I say this in addition to my earlier note because I wanted you to know where I'm coming from. I am a Graphic Designer. I create/design the waste of the world but I still believe the prior statement.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  108. Peter

    I'm a Canadian currently visiting the Washington region, and I am shocked that Americans appear to have learned absolutely NOTHING from the energy price spike last year.
    Everywhere I go, I see people sitting in idling cars, crowding the road in massive SUVs, and stuffing their faces with empty calories.
    People in the know (e.g. the IEA) are predicting a massive energy crunch as soon as the economy turns around, possibly as soon as 2013. The gas prices we saw last year are likely to be dwarfed by the prices we will soon be paying.
    So in short, If Americans don't scale down their wasteful habits on their own now, they will eventually be forced to do so by external factors, whether they like it or not.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  109. Eric - NY

    Consumerism is not bad. A consumer driven market provides a rich and diverse economy. The key is smart consumerism. We don’t necessarily need to consume less, we need to consume with minimal collateral damage, such as clean renewable energy. I applaud Governor Kulongoski’s devotion to energy reform, but I believe he should execute his vision using as many domestic goods and services as possible rather than importing the goods from foreign nations. The green movement is not only crucial to the survival of our planet, but our economy as well.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  110. Mary

    Bravo to Frankie's comment... yes wealth like, health and community, and helping each other out

    May 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  111. Jerry- San Antonio, TX

    The answer, Jack , is Yes and NO! Our current econemy is dependent on consumerism, but as American's we need to pause and realize what we are consuming and where it is coming from. We have "needs" and then we have "wants. " It is time for the American people to realize the difference! We all "need" shelter from the eliments but that does not mean that just because we "want" a Mansion, that we can afford it! No matter what greedy Credit Card Companies and Bankers tell us! The time has come to pay the piper!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  112. Barbara Middletown, NY

    My family has already cut back consumerism. A lot of products are poorly made imports and I don't want to spend money on them. That doesn't mean I won't spend money on a quality product made anywhere, but we really are learning the difference between wanting something and actually needing it.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  113. marky

    And another thing. Where does all the products we "consume" end up? Consumerism translates into turning the earth's resources into garbage.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  114. Evan K.West Frankfort, Illinois

    Absolutely, we need to cut back on Consumerism. All the packaging with each item we biy ends up in a landfill, never to biodegrade.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  115. Ford Shankle

    There are finite amounts of natural resources, but infinite desires to use them up! We have become slaves to our insatiable, wasteful lifestyles, yet we have not learned that the things we have amassed should not define whom we really are.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  116. Missy

    Yes. Americans should cut back on consumerism and there's so many easy ways to do it. But we have to be careful not to politicize the issue. Environmental legislation usually ends up hurting poor people the most. Educating people how they can live well while cutting back and spending less it the key.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  117. Leonard/Oregon

    Being an Oregonian.i'll flat out say that Or governor Kulongoski is not ahead of the curve nor does he totally get it.
    San Francisco Bay area is way further ahead of the curve and he doesn't get Oregon's rural needs or needs of its fixed income people. Raising taxes on gasoline and vehicle registration to pay for 1 billion in stimulus spending for highways at a time of economic recession is a poor idea, harms fixed income people, and is anthical to his goal of being greener. He would get more bang for the buck with Pickens Plan !!
    Yes we should control consumerism but for the purpose of controling the drain of our wealth (trade deficit issue). With American wealth left at home then there is money at home to go green on American made products from American owned companies.
    Our governor would have us spend money for a greener enviroment on Chinese electric vehicles !!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  118. jsilver2th

    Our Governor Ted Kulongoski is nearing the end of eight years in office and has never really been an environmental leader in his whole political career. Although he talks about what our leaders need to do he has not done this himself here in Oregon. It is a myth that converting to green energy and reducing wasteful consumption must have negative live-style impacts however it is a great excuse for allowing Oregon's own PGE to continue to operate one of the dirtiest coal plants with the Governor's blessings. He has no substantial green energy program and never has attempted anything but the most modest tokenism all to benefit our existing major private utilities, out of state interests and big corporations. He must be angling for some sort of job or administration post because Oregon voters would never even know that guy.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  119. JerryMerry - Philippines

    Hi Jack,
    Definitely, the consumerism must be checked.
    I'm an expat American living abroad since 1968. When I see the great excesses that Americans live with and take for granted, I could cry. What kind of society shops until they drop and then host a garage sale because they have too much junk?
    The majority of the planet's population are poor and too many are hungry. While American's suffer with obesity. Unfortunately, the great American hero "Joe Average" sees everything in $$ and has no compassion for Foreigners

    May 6, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  120. sarah

    I agree with Gov. Kulongoski’s remarks that the need for better and bigger products is out of hand has been for quite some time.

    I also think convience products have gotton out of control. Grab 'n Go this and EZ Snak that. I think if average people took an extra ten minutes a day to shut off a computer, to put chips in a container to bring to work rather than buy a small bag everyday, to refill a water bottle, we would all be surprised.

    I disagree with the comment regarding just city people needing to get it together. I can think of multiple problems with the good ol' country that I myself live in... like having to drive a larger vehicle (truck/SUV)30 miles to get groceries, go to the doctor, or see a movie.

    But I really love the idea of retrofiting vehicles. What do you guys think, better to fix a car or junk it and build a new hybrid/advanced car?

    Northeast Pennsylvannia

    May 6, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  121. Karl from SF, CA

    Definitely. Americans need to realize there is no clean coal technology, oil is finite and if we don’t start to wean our way off of it we will keep paying the Middle East until we wake up some morning and there is no more oil and no alternatives developed. Oil companies are just that, OIL companies with no intentions of changing. Auto companies have learned the hard way that SUVs aren’t viable anymore. If not to save the environment, we still have to get on the replenishable bandwagon to survive.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  122. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    Yes, yes, yes. It's called delayed gratification. We must sacrifice now for a better future.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  123. Jay

    Of course they should cut back to save the environment, but it won't happen because Americans don't like to be told they can't have something they want. The same people who complain about our children's children having to pay off Mr Obama's spending probably will pour used motor oil down the sewer to save time. In the US, sacrifice is a noble idea, as long as the other guy has to do it.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  124. dave

    Yes Jack, America needs to cut back on their consumerism. Plastic companys must have the most powerful lobyist around, to get away with the environmental timebomb their leaving on this earth. You almost never hear about the great pacific trash heap thats floating around out there, you know the one thats twice the size of texas and made up of 99% plastic, which will last for thousands of years! Everything you buy now is either wrap in or stuffed with plastic. The problem is getting a lot worse with the internet and products being ship too the consumer, who have no choice but to take all the plastic and styrofoam that came in the mail to the dump where it will sit for ever!!!! Another thing ya never hear about is what it's all made of, OIL
    lots and lots of OIL!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  125. Col. Michael McDowell, USA

    Jack,
    America needs to rethink its needs versus its wants. We went from a society after WW2 where everyone wanted the new modern lifestyle and thought it was their right to have it. Now we have a system and mode of living that has up to hock to our eyeballs. We went from a nation of savers to a nation of debtors and spenders. Now we are paying the price since our economy has went south, so we need to establish priorities for the things that count again.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  126. Weidenbach

    Stop using credit cards for things you don't need, such as electronic gadgets and unnecessary clothing or stuff to "be cool". "Pick up truck country" isn't if you don't have a dead deer or a pile of logs loaded in it almost every day. There's no need to "warm up" or "chill up" your car for more than five minutes. Learn how to cook and buy fresh vegetables and real food. Shut off electrical devices (that includes computers) when not in use. Reduce heat and a/c in your home when you're not there and don't have it on in rooms which are not in use. Don't use your clothes dryer unnecessarily. Learn how to walk or use a bike. Stop getting fat. Read instead of watching TV. Recycle everything. Invest in making your home more energy efficient. Listen to Governor Kulongoski and President Obama. Shall I go on?

    May 6, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  127. Layne Alleman

    Jack, Hell yes we should cut back, but to do so outrages everyone. Super-duper shopping malls, mega-car dealers,and even commercials at movie theaters. Sorry Jack, but the only way it will work is if we ALL change our lifestyles drasticlly. Ain't going to happen. Our whole current economy is based on buying STUFF. Not needed and often never used, STUFF. Think the Stock Market is in bad shape now?, hang onto your hat when everyone is told to quit going to Wall-Mart to buy all that STUFF. (and imagine what our pals the Chinese will have to say about that). From the time I was growing up in the early '50s, its been a steadily progressing flow of STUFF. It's a tidal wave. If you can come up with a solution, if ANYONE can come up with a solution, I'm listening. Layne A. Antioch, IL.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  128. Karen - Missouri

    And tell those silly politicians to pick, not only on autos, but also on builders who build useless huge homes and totally wipe out entire forests! Duh, it doesn't matter how efficient autos are and energy saved if the forests and green areas keep getting destroyed by greedy builders. Trees purify the air, God's creation, and that can't happen if builders are so irresponsible as well as Congress. Teach builders to keep some green areas for this planet's future.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  129. Col. Michael McDowell, USA

    Everyone needs a check up from the neck up.....including our political leaders who are the worst of violators when it comes to living within ones means. We all want utopia, and would sell our soul to get it, but the reality is no one wants to live within their means and thinks that everything will work out fine eventually. Too bad, one day we are going to wake up and realize we have become Mexico or some banana republic in South America. Then we will have no identity, and our future will be lost forever. Look at the past civilizations who committed the same mistakes we have made and are still making, and see how they exist as a footnote in a history book.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  130. mark in tacoma

    We need to rebuild not consume.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  131. Paul

    Cutting back on consumerism would be helpful if you are committed to preserving the environment. American Companies, and Consumers can all find more efficient ways of using our capital and resources. The technology is available to provide quality, sustainable products at a cost savings.

    Products that use less energy, and that have a longer life will allow consumers to have more disposable income. One can save the money, or purchase new products. It is the responsibiltiy of all Americans to keep an eye on the future, and to conserve as much as possible.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  132. Kent

    We will see consumerism decline as our standard of living continues to decline. A service economy only creates shifting of wealth around in the USA. We are watching the greatest shift of wealth out of this country that we have ever seen. We have been living on the national credit card so far, but those days will have to come to a close. As that happens our consumption will drastically reduce because we will be forced to reduce our spending to survive.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  133. Ryan from Sacramento

    We don't necessarily need to cut back on consumption, we just need to be smarter consumers. Consuming fossil fuels isn't smart, in the long term. We have an abundance of most things, except energy, for which we are reliant on foreign nations. If we can just achieve energy independence, it may be that we can live even more abundantly than we do now, indefinitely. We just need to make smarter consumption choices to get there.

    May 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm |