Paul Rubin has written an article in WSJ regarding Environmentalism as a type of religion which I find quite interesting. The factors he lists as similarities are pretty dead on:
• There is a holy day—Earth Day.
• There are food taboos.
• There is no prayer, but there are self-sacrificing rituals that are not particularly useful.
• Belief systems are embraced with no logical basis.
• There are sacred structures.
• Skeptics are not merely people unconvinced by the evidence: They are treated as evil sinners.
One could also add:
• Prophet - Al Gore.
• Scripture - The IPCC reports.
However, environmentalism is far from being alone in the specter of issues and causes that people become fundamental about, and many political opinions tend to get stuck because people refuse to change their them - even when faced with overwhelming contradictory evidence. This is not confined to the "right", and possibly afflicts more people on the "left". Scientists routinely refutes diverging opinions with ad hominem argumentation, freezing out those who disagree, withholding resources etc. Economists (sorta one myself) believe their social science is a hard science with evidence based facts proved by complex mathematics. Attempting to critcize a parenting is something I can absolutely forget about since I don't have children myself. Even our hero Einstein refused to accept quantum theory.
What are your opinions on this subject? Can these opinions-turned-fundamentalism be compared to religion?
Instead of looking at the problem from a top down perspective, why not look at it bottom up?
The tar sands are extracted due to consumers demand for oil products. *We* cannot solve the issue before *you* do your part - even if it seems miniscule, the combined impact is massive.
Push your local representative to vote for a $10/unit petroleum tax, not only will it alleviate many environmental issues, it will also remove many governments fiscal issues.
We will have to agree to disagree on who carries the most blame for overconsumption in today's society - you percieve the producer to be at fault, I find that the individual consumer making the choices are to blame. Presumably we have different mindsets in the society vs individual debate, but that's quite a different discussion.
Veblen's theory should not be overstated, and is generally only applied to markets with luxury (Veblen) goods. Few petroleum products can be said to carry that distinction, and the products that can are not luxury goods due to being petroleum products (i.e. lipstick).
And finally two remarks: Firstly, $1.26/l is hardly enough to cover the cost of the externalities of driving, probably triple that or more. Secondly, fuel is not the only petroleum products, and they are pervasive and almost all things around you include them.
Your stance on society vs individual is only a viable truth if you're of the opinion that marketing is a useless science and a waste of money. Boy those multinationals are really dumb wasting all that money... :P
I live way up in Northern Canada, I buy second hand natural fabrics winter clothing. Thrift stores end up throwing away much of these things. People here are spending thousands of dollars on fancy petrochemical based winter garments instead of REUSING the excellent garments already out there on the market. Yesterday I was at our outdoor winter Rendez-Vous festival, -20C, driving snow and winds strong enough to tear away half the show tents. Attendance was a fraction of last year, people were cold, was I, no. People spending thousands on Northface and Columbia and Arcteryx ARE SPENDING ON LUXURY. They make me laugh.
And the individual response is that if you are refuse to question if your decisons are based upon marketing or your free will, then it is not corporate deceipt, but self deceipt. I've had this discussion many times and generally the truth lies someone in between- and both party should take their part of the responsibility. No market witout a product, but no product witout a market.
The brands in your examples are not examples of luxury goods (unless they are extremely expensive in Canada), it is comparable to choosing regular brand to a store brand. Tailor made Armani coats would possibly come close.
I also seems that both those guys and you were buying winter attire with an alterior motive, they wanted something that showed off their wealth, you wanted something to show off your moral superiority.
Arcus, you're still totalling sidestepping the overwhelming power of marketing. The brands I mentioned are mulitples more expensive than similar products by non luxury brands such as "intersport". People buy those particular brands for 2 reasons: social standing and marketing. The marketing fools people by telling them petrochemical fleece is warmer than animal fleece. (and a couple of political vegans of course, but their numbers aren't sufficient to sway any market)
The social standing is related to what Veblen theorises. One of my girlfriends has been dressing her son in luxury brand names (Armani is not a luxury brand name in Northern climes) since age 3, even tho he grows out of them within a year, because wearing these luxury brand keeps him in the "in-group". Apparently elementary school aged kids are beasts of fashion (sigh)
She is not a dumb woman, she is of above average intelligence, and very literate, but marketing is stronger. She is not responsible for her actions. If this can happen to an average intelligence person, imagine what happens to dumb people? I have had oodles of these discussions with her, she "sees" it when we talk, but next week, she buys another item she can't afford.
You can no more assume people can "will" their brains to be brighter than you can will an extra finger to grow from your hand. People have the intelligence they have. One does not usually get more intelligent with age, we just accumulate experience. Intelligence is different from experience.
The only way to STOP the overwhelming power of marketing is to provide better education to youth, to provide them with tools to understand the underpinnings of workings of our modern world.
Dangling question: do you think marketing is a waste of corporate funds?
Of course corporate marketing influences the decisions and is often worth the money, but people must be held accountable for their decisions. Marketing typically don't lie (it's illegal), though construes facts to promote whatever they are selling, and this is widely known (suddenly sounds the same as politics). However, if some are unable to form an independent opinion, it is not marketing which is to blame. The education system plays a factor, but some people are just ignorant, and I'd rather not structure society around the consept of protecting the ignorant from themselves.
Dangling question: If some are unfit to make decicions for themselves, who decides whom must be shielded against what?
Lying in marketing is illegal. The point of marketing is to sell your product, generally by pointing out all the positive aspects. It is not a secret and everybody knows it, and I disagree with you on people not being accountable for their decisions.
However, I do agree that marketing towards children should be banned.
Wow, you really need to take some courses in Economics. The entire capitalist world works on a Supply side economy. This whole idea of demand driven economy with fiat currency is why the world governments are now bankrupt.
You can go ahead and stop buying oil derived products (I bet you can't). Even if you did, and everyone in the western world did, it would not stop China! The ONLY way to address the problem is to demand the governments and corporations lower consumption. The consumerist economy will not save the US, UK or Europe from the current economic depression. So put an end to it, and invest in what is viable for the environment instead.
In North America (Arcus you being from Czech Republic I don't know law there)
Marketing Strategies In Sales: Lying is not illegal, at best, false advertising is considered ever so slightly sinful, and the burden of proof is on the citizen, and those who have fought liars have usually lost: McDonalds, cigarettes, Monsanto, etc How can a citizen on a citizen budget fight multinationals with the budget of entire countries? In our legal system, he with most money wins.
Marketing Strategies In Politics: Lying is not illegal, in politics anything goes, FOX News is marketing for GOP, there is no law in USA that says TV people must not lie. Plus, remember the first Gulf War Invasion, when they showed babies in Kuwaiti hospital and the nurse trying to save them? That got USA citizens to want to go to war with Iraq, before they did not. It was a complete fabrication, a short artistic fictitious film, made by the same marketing company that Clinton had previously used for his own electoral campaign.