I believe I have asked this question before but the point needs to be raised again. The economy is in the toilet and people and businesses are suffering, but does the fact that some of these companies were created out of bad habits mean that they deserve to fail? If a company is losing money is it not the company’s responsibility to change that fact? Sure, there are arguments out there that claim the government should step in, which it has in some cases, but my thesis is more focused on companies that have come to fruition out of our seemingly incessant need for “stuff”.
Looking at some examples is probably the best way to make the issue clear. Wal-Mart is a great example. They have built a business out of a false need for all kinds of, what some people would call, junk, and not just any old junk, cheap junk. Sure, they stock produce, meat, electronics, and other useful items but there are whole rows of consumer demanded garbage. If Wal-Mart is concerned with surviving through the economy, would not the smart thing to do be getting rid of waste? It seems obvious but for some reason it is not a priority.
Part of this is consumer habits, we are a nation of junk consumers. I’m guilty and I am pretty sure you are too. The difference between now and 20 years ago is that now we want our junk at a lower price, even if it means cutting jobs here. Maybe our culture needs to think back to 1950s lifestyle and look at pictures from era Life and Time magazines, home and work life were simpler. And what is wrong with that? The struggle is digging ourselves out of hole when the mentality is, “why get out, we’re already here”.
What if U.S. culture moved back from the mega-store to the local store, from the Lowe’s to the local hardware store? What if Target and Wal-Mart downsized and stopped carrying junk? For one thing, the green movement would rejoice in the street for weeks, but there would also be some semblance of simplicity. Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting a stop in consumption, I am advocating consuming differently, focusing on what’s important, and reversing a trend that has been ingrained in our minds by culture. I think it will help the economy in the long run and I think people will flourish from it. The flip side is that companies who cannot adjust to the change in consumption behavior can and will fail, and maybe they should.
The notion of quantity over quality has been a growing phenomena, with pockets of resistance everywhere, but for the everyday Joe, it’s life. It is time to focus a little more on quality, even if it means cutting consumption somewhere else, because such behavior would stimulate growth in small businesses that specialize in quality products. Simplicity and quality, I do not see the negative. Do you?