It looks like America’s and Britainâ€™s fiscal stimulus packages could fail for more reasons than one: people arenâ€™t going to spend the savings they make from tax cuts in a climate of fear and anxiety over future financial security… oh and some environmentalists are going to make a virtue of spending nothing at all.
Now in its 17th year, Buy Nothing Day, which is celebrated every November by environmentalists in over 65 countries, is set to take place on Black Friday in the United States at a time when retailers are looking to that day for salvation for their business. As the Guardian reports:
Consumer spending accounts for 70% of US economic activity and the latest data indicates it has gone into reverse. President-in-waiting Barack Obama explained in simple terms last week that by reining in spending, households are effectively tightening the economic vice. “What we don’t want to do is get caught up in a spiral where people pull back from the economy, businesses then pull back, jobs are reduced and we get into a downward spiral,” he says.
The reasoning behind this is that an economic slowdown would save natural resources and cut carbon emissions. Even if this were true, what would be the point of those reductions once a recession is over and a period of even more vigorous growth sets in? An economic downturn is also an unpopular time for environmental issues to be pushed by politicians and having a smaller carbon footprint is hardly a consolation when youâ€™re unemployed. Whatâ€™s more, a recession will mean less government spending on new sustainable energy and infrastructure. Whilst one can see the noble sentiment in Buy Nothing Day, celebrating a recession is not going to help the environment in the long term.
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Filed in: Economics,Environmentalism