Seventy percent of the U.S. economy's lifeblood (measured in GDP) is dependent on consumer spending. I've frequently made the point that this fact supports policies which keep purchasing power in the hands of middle and working-class households. While this is true, I cannot help but recognize the sad conundrum we're in: Our economy is dependent on consumption, but aggressive consumer spending (particularly when it puts people in debt) is very bad for individual households (and all these products eventually make their way to landfills).
Over time, we must structurally rebuild our economy so that is not so dependent on growth in spending from the consumer sector. We need an economy that can be healthy while still allowing people to live within their means. We need an economy that minimizes the impact of our consumer needs and wants on the environment. How exactly we do this, I don't know. It's extraordinarily complex. But it's a problem worthy of the undivided attention of our best minds.
Buy Nothing Day (Adbusters)