Thursday, February 26, 2009

Apologies in Advance

No new content here today. Sorry, sorry, sorry. I promise I won't keep doing this, but I really would like your comments and ideas here. So, give me your thoughts, please, and I promise, real new content next week.


Anonymous said...

did you remove my comment or did blogger?

ruchi said...

I didn't remove your comment, so it must have been blogger. Sorry EJ.

Anonymous said...

Re your post on "Ethical Consumption"

This is a very touristy, short sighted way of looking at a society. While Denmark may have less blatant consumerism, people in Denmark love status symbols as much as Americans. You just can't read the signals. Instead of car, insert lovely home, new kitchen or long vacation.

No one may want to seem better than anyone else, but everyone knows which neighborhood is best, who has the nicest second home, who spends the longest vacation in the nicest place. I don't think Scandinavia is a less consumerist culture, just not consuming as conspicuously, or in ways that aren't obvious to you, a visitor.

The biggest difference is in the Scandinavian appreciation of quality rather than quantity- a concept that North Americans may never understand. While you didn't see quantity (blatant consumerism) in Denmark did you see quality (luxury consumerism) instead? Is one less consumerist than the other?


ruchi said...

Thanks for your comments, EJ.

The impressions I got about Denmark were largely formed by my friends who live there who told me their perceptions of the society as compared to the US. Obviously, I'm sure that Denmark isn't immune to its own consumerism. However, my friends shared with me several insights that led me to believe that in Denmark, perhaps, consumerism doesn't reign quite so supreme as it does in other parts of the world.

For instance, Denmark has a book tax in order to encourage people to use the library instead, thus encouraging borrowing instead of possession. I can't see a tax like that ever passing in the US. My friends also related that in their professional area of Denmark, most people came home between 4 and 5, thus suggesting that they value time more than added compensation. And in general, the people of Denmark are willing to pay higher tax rates (thus forgoing personal consumption) than the US or the UK in order to have more comprehensive social services like health care, pre-school, etc.

I'm sure people in Denmark who can afford nice kitchens and expensive vacations, do. I don't think that the people of Denmark are immune to the allure of consumption. But I do think there are substantive differences as well. The point is that when you look at areas where there are trade-offs, say social services. Americans have fewer social services, but we also have fewer taxes. We've made a trade-off that favors consumption. In Denmark, they have made a trade-off that favors less consumption and more social services.