- Tapa blanda: 340 páginas
- Editor: ReadHowYouWant; Edición: [Large Print] (28 de diciembre de 2012)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1458747476
- ISBN-13: 978-1458747471
- Ver el Índice completo
Affluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough (Easyread Large Edition) (Inglés) Tapa blanda – Texto grande, 28 dic 2012
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Our houses are bigger than ever, but our families are smaller. Our kids go to the best schools we can afford, but we hardly see them. We've got more money to spend yet we're further in debt than ever before. What is going on? The Western world is in the grip of a consumption binge that is unique in human history. We aspire to the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the cost of family, friends and personal fulfilment. Rates of stress, depression and obesity are up as we wrestle with the emptiness and endless disappointments of the consumer life. Affluenza pulls no punches, claiming our whole society is addicted to overconsumption. It tracks how much Australians overwork, the growing mountains of stuff we throw out, the drugs we take to 'self-medicate' and the real meaning of 'choice'. Fortunately there is a cure. More and more Australians are deciding to ignore the advertisers, reduce their consumer spending and recapture their time for the things that really matter. 'Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss at the Australia Institute never disappoint - they set out on paths others don't go down, then explore without fear or favour and finally draw conclusions about modern Australia, warts and all. It's all accompanied by passion which is why the results cannot be ignored.' Geraldine Doogue ABC broadcaster 'Fascinating - at the same time a call to arms and a chill-pill, Affluenza challenges not just individuals, but society itself.' Adam Spencer comedian, mathematician and former radio DJ
Biografía del autor
Clive Hamilton is author or co-author of the bestselling Affluenza, Growth Fetish, Scorcher and Silencing Dissent. One of Australia's leading thinkers, he is Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, based at the Australian National University.
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They support this ably with graphed research however unfortunately the graphs were not well referenced so I have no idea as to their veracity, so when they mention a 23% proportion of 20-50 year olds 'downsizing' their lifestyle in the last 10 years I just don't know where they got this figure from, or indeed how valid. However while this was a distraction, I did find this book had some extremely major strengths
1 - it is well written,
2 - it is more than just scare tactics, It is thoughtful and thought provoking about the way we live
3 - it offers actually practical solutions as well as philosophical idealism. The conclusion is a series of ideals and how we can go about meeting them.
There have been others talking about the unhappiness bought about by mass consumerism, this is a nice book to start at to understand the issues.
Yet it seems in recent decades this trend for consumer capitalism has gotten totally out of control. It now often seems even having a house, car and job isn't enough; we have to have massive plasma television sets, several home computers, a third generation mobile phone, a whizz bang computer and games for the kids, both parents working to the hilt to pay the mortgage, expensive holidays and a million dollars in super at the end of it. We have to send our children to the most expensive private schools and universities, and money and getting things is the most important thing.
This is the picture Hamilton paints of Australia, where people binge on credit, where Australians work themselves almost to death to supply an endless array of goods and services which they don't really need, and are wasted; where about 20% of the population suffer from mental health problems related to low self esteem and stress, and where people avoid having children because each costs $250,000 to raise, and where our rampant consumption is ruining our environment as well as our health.
I certainly agree many of the ideas put forward in this book are true. Australia does seem to have become a place where the ethic of 'mateship' and community has been replaced with the rather heartless ethics of global capitalism, which are aimed at endless economic growth and growing individual prosperity. Reforms to make the Australian economy more open to foreign competition were opened in the 1980's by the Labour government, and ever since then in Australia the emphasis is more and more on aligning ourselves to the globalised world.
I do feel though that material progress is a good thing. However, our material progress is having some negative consequences, such as rocketing house prices and crippling resource shortages, in water and other areas. Our reckless focus on 'growth only' is also doing great damage to our environment, globally and locally.
Money is important and Australia must not go the way of Sub-Saharan Africa, being poor, overpopulated and racked by pollution and war. However I agree the time is coming when Australians will need to see there is more to life than simply the material; no amount of money or personal possessions is going to stop us from dying and suffering ill health, though wealth can delay both. We also need to be more charitable to the poor, as Australia still has some 100,000 homeless people, and we need to recognise the spiritual is an integral part of life, regardless of how much or how little we have (I am sure there is a correlation between the breakdown of religion and community in Australia and depression and other forms of mental illness).
To cure ourselves of affluenza we need to focus less on affluence and more on quality of life, which unfortunately affluence can't bring entirely on its own, without good ethical, social, spiritual and community values and wholeness and environmental sustainability. There seems little point in having a beautiful house or a brand new 4WD when the skies of your city are constantly polluted, water is running out, and garbage is piling up everywhere in the streets and elsewhere.
They don't say there aren't poor people in Australia; it's just that we've raised the bar considerably on what we consider "necessities" for life. In other words, it's not only the rich who are getting richer, it's also the poor and middle class getting richer but still claiming to be poor. The problem, they say, is not being consumers; it's being addicted to being consumers.
They organise their argument well into three sections: Describing the problem, outlining some of its (ill) effects; and then proposing solutions. In the first two sections, they present a wealth of statistics and data to support their position. However, the third section - where they propose solutions - is curiously weak, and they offer very little facts or research to support their recommendations.
In fact, they often betray a clear left-wing bias in their proposed solutions, rather than basing them on solid research. This even spills over into mind reading, with ridiculous statements like, "Although not willing to say so, neoliberals believe ...".
In other areas, they are just plain wrong. For instance, in the area of Internet censorship, where I do have some technical knowledge and experience, they say:
"When presented with polling showing that 93 per cent of parents of teenagers want governments to take responsibility for the problem and require Internet service providers to filter content, both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party respond that parents should take responsibility for their children's conduct. The financial interest of the Internet industry is put before the emotional health of Australia's young people."
This conclusion is shamelessly stated without any supporting evidence whatsoever, and without even a basic knowledge of the facts. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that does censor the Internet, and has been doing so since legislation to that effect was passed in 1999. However, technical experts know it's impossible for this to be an effective solution, and parental control is required. The fact that polling shows "93 per cent of parents of teenagers want governments to take responsibility" is neither here nor there - it simply indicates they don't understand what that entails.
You could argue that this is nit-picking, but for authors who present in-depth arguments for the first two-thirds of their book, their proposed solutions lack that same depth, and come across as weak and shallow.
Does that taint the book as a whole? Not necessarily, but I'd suggest you read it with a skeptical mind.