Last night I began my Christmas shopping. I survived a trip to the Providence Place Mall without getting foul-tempered. The trick was avoiding the parking garage, where cars were gridlocked coming and going, and inside shoppers were waiting in long lines to get their parking receipts.
I saw a rack of Obey T-shirts at Nordstrom. It’s the assimilation of bad-boy Shepard Fairey into the Mall. You can still see Obey Giant stickers around Providence from when he gave it away for free, and I’m not knocking that a guy’s got to make a living. Especially an artist– whose best ideas are prey to being stolen and making someone else rich.
Shepard Fairey is writing about Occupy on his site.
I stopped by on my way to the bus and was invited into the tent where the General Assembly was in progress. The tent looked bigger inside than out, with a community room and a library. Burnside Park is still unusually neat and the Occupation is still ongoing.
All of us who support the people there with their call for economic justice will have a project to work on now– a safe place for homeless people to get out of the cold. This is do-able, and would provide a hub for social services that address the problems that cause people to lose their housing in the first place.
An article in Alternet sheds some light on why there is such good cheer in tents in the park…
Here is a modest proposal to cure obesity, loneliness and holiday blues…
“Overwhelmingly, growth is seen as the solution to all problems, but growth is failing,” says Herman Daly, a former World Bank economist who is also known as the father of “ecological economics,” an offshoot of the same field that spawned Adam Smith three centuries ago but challenges many of the assumptions that classical economists hold dear.
Another reason to believe degrowing the economy, while not painless, may make us happier in the long run is a growing body of research comparing health and wellbeing across national borders and economic classes. As a billion poor people around the world already know and many Americans have found out as unemployment has spiked in this country in the last four years, money enough to ensure a roof over one’s head, a full belly and other basic needs is very important to well-being. Beyond a certain subsistence level, however, some provocative research suggests money won’t buy you love.
In their 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, epidemiologists Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett argue that a society’s overall happiness is linked to income equality. Not only do they argue that equality — not more income or more consumption — make us healthier and more contented, their research shows that less equal societies like the United States have higher rates of anxiety and illness, violence, teenage pregnancies, obesity, drug abuse and eroding public trust. And they tend to consume excessively, among other negative effects.
I took General Science in high school, and the teacher explained a positive feedback loop. It is a bad thing. Where a negative feedback loop is like your thermostat–turning down the heat when it gets too warm; a positive feedback loop is like global warming– where the polar ice melts and the open water absorbs more heat, melting more ice.
Basing an economy on endless growing consumption is unscientific and not reality-based. I think, too, that the passion for things can be tempered as you get older. Young people need more things, old people need more shelves. I need more family time and parties– this holiday season is going along good for that.
Funny thing, when I left Occupy to get on the #42 I had to wait until Santa Claus got off the bus. He had his beard pulled down, but it was definitely Santa, unless red suits with white trim and sacks of presents are this year’s look in men’s wear.
My resolution for the New Year is to live in the present. I have lost so many good people this year that it’s impossible not to recognize that life is short. Though I am by nature a good girl, comfortable going with the flow, I resolve to pay attention so that I know when the right thing to do is to dis-obey.