Miscellany

The Mastercard Commercial I’d like to See

I found this interesting…

  • Amount spent each year in Europe and the United States on pet food:  $17 billion
  • Cost per year to achieve basic health and nutrition for the entire world:  $13 billion
  • Amount spent on perfumes each year:  $12 billion
  • Clean water for all the world:  $9 billion
  • Amount spent on cosmetics in the US:  $8 billion
  • Basic education for the world’s children:  $6 billion
  • Total amount the US spends on Christmas each year:  $450 billion   (or 16 years worth of food, water, and education for the world)
  • Initial cost of the US Government bailout of failing financial institutions:  $700 billion   (or 25 years worth of food, water, and education for the world)

Coming to grips with the alarming disconnects of our consumerist society:  Priceless

(originally posted by Jim Moss on The Seminal)

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3 thoughts on “The Mastercard Commercial I’d like to See”

  1. I’ve sat on this for a while (obviously 🙂 because in part, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But then there’s another side that I’m still unable to reconcile. If I truly believe we are all created equal under the sun, I don’t know how I can make exceptions for myself to get the nice things when others can’t even get anything, let alone the ‘nice’ things.

    There’s an unspoken arrogance behind my actions that I’m not sure what to do with. Some would say this is rooted in guilt (and, to an extent it probably is), but I also think this is a cop-out used by the wealthy (read: anyone above subsistence level) to jusitfy the ways we overconsume (myself included).

    It seems to me the the most unclouded beliefs are validated by the actions behind them. Clearly, my beliefs are still a bit foggy as they’re not backed up wholeheartedly with actions. Thoughts?

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  2. It’s interesting, and a stark reminder of what we can achieve with a little work to help poverty, but I don’t think it’s actually a very good argument that we spend too much on superfluous things. It’s actually very closely related to Peter Singer’s arguments about our duty to the poor in far-off places – which I also thinks fails (wrote my senior philosophy thesis on it, in fact).

    Take pet food. Yes, Americans spend a fair amount on their pets. My husband and I have two dogs, and we feed them an expensive dry dog food. Both were rescues – neither asked to be born and then left to fend for herself (in one case) or be chained up in a fence and starved (in another case). Was it morally wrong of us to provide them with a safe home where they’d be given food and shelter and love? I don’t think so. But, having taken on the responsibility of pet ownership, it’d also be be wrong to not feed them food that will keep them healthy – which means semi-expensive food (especially for two large dogs with big appetites). So the end result – the number quoted in the article – seems to be arguing that all this money spent on pet food is wrong, given the starvation in the world. Yet I don’t think that there is any morally bad step in the process that led to us spending $$ on dog food – indeed, many would say it’s a charitable act, altho one certainly with selfish impulses (I do love dogs).

    Obviously, the argument above doesn’t invalidate all of the “points” made by the wannabe Mastercard commercial – for instance, the amount of excess spent on cheap, forgettable toys for children on Christmas is pretty disgusting. But I don’t think that money spent on luxuries is necessarily money immorally or wastefully spent. A good meal, a handmade toy, the scent of a nice perfume – these are all things that we don’t *need*, but that, as a whole, our culture would be less rich without.

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