Saturday, January 15, 2011

America's constant revolution vs. perceived European stagnation in economics

Capitalism is often described as a kind of contest between businesses that leads to innovation and advancement due to the profit motive. But what exactly does that mean in practice? I think that the American experience with consumerism provides a good example in that, sure, we have a society and an economy that praises entrepreneurial 'innovation' that generates infomercials selling the latest half thought out fad. We have gimmicks that don't work, or that if they work are really unnecessary, but are there just to squeeze that last drop of positive utilitarian value out of life. And it all changes, too, never staying put for a second. Innovations on innovations....much of them largely being failures in the medium to long run that are swept under the table in order to make room for the next half baked idea. Contrast this with Europe.

Europe, a supposed stagnant society, tends to create fewer products that are better thought out and that last longer. Instead of jumping on every bandwagon that comes along the people who design products in Europe, taken on the whole, seem to be ultimately concerned with what will endure, and what will serve its purpose in a fundamental as opposed to superficial sense. You don't have to have the latest technology to create a good product, say, piece of furniture, if the way you're doing it at present produces high quality goods.

Possibly this is indicative of a series of societies that choose quality over quantity, with actual values being lived out as opposed to whatever the marketplace chooses to put forward.

We could learn a lot from that, because in the end, what matters is what endures, not what's created in one year and gone the next, along with all of the resources and time needed to produce it.

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