The current economic system requires compulsory consumption to create jobs. Mass jobs requires mass consumption. If people don't consume all that is produced, there would be mass lay-offs. The result is that we are trading our health for jobs. And we are trading the source of life itself - the planet's health - for jobs.

A Guaranteed Livable Income is the only way out of the forced consumption trap.

"Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production"
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Converting Americans from a psychology of thrift into one of spendthrift proved a daunting task.

ad from movie magazine, woman in pink with pet dog says Two Rules: believe in yourself and always have a shopping strategy


"A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built on sand."   Dorothy L. Sayers in Creed of Chaos, 1947




"our entire economy is built on human weaknesses, on bad habits and insecurities. Fashion. Fast food. Sports cars. Techno-gadgets. Sex toys. Diet centres. Hair clubs for men. Personal ads. Fringe religious sects. Professional sports teams--there's vicarious living for you! Hair salons. Male mid-life crisis. Shopping binges. Our entire way of life is built on self-doubt and dissatisfaction..." (Will Ferguson, Happiness, 2002)

What would happen to the economy if everyone were a happy, healthy,
'green', 'responsible' citizen?


What would happen to our economy if everyone stopped drinking alcohol and soft drinks, stopped eating fast food and junk food, stopped smoking and gambling, stopped buying coffee and donuts, stopped watching TV, stopped playing video games, stopped driving?

two people on bikes in the countryWhat would happen to our economy if people started walking, cycling, going to parks, having picnics with healthy home-made food? What if everyone made their own art, music, entertainment and fashion instead of filling the malls and bars every weekend? What if there was massive infrastructure supporting public transit and bicycles? What would happen if people became healthier from being physically active and eating healthy foods?

What would happen to the people whose jobs depend on the alcohol, tobacco, junk food, soft drink industries? To the people whose jobs depend on gambling, advertising, entertainment, pro-sport and video game industries? What would happen to all those who work in coffee & donut shops? What would happen to all the jobs in the auto and oil industries? And if people were healthy, what would happen to jobs in the pharmaceutical and medical industries?

And if peace broke out, what would happen to all the jobs in the arms and military industry?


And, if birth rates keep dropping... What will happen when there are no students for teachers and professors, no customers for stores, no patients for pediatricians, no new generations to become dedicated consumers of tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, video games, cell phones, blue jeans, make-up, and vroom vroom vroom, cars?

The messages from society's opinion-makers are: Be Responsible! Don't start smoking! Don't get fat by eating junk food! Get more exercise! Don't be an alcoholic! Save your money and don't waste it on coffee and chocolate bars and movies! And last but not least: Don't have kids if you can't support them!!!

This is impossible because if everyone was a 'responsible' citizen and followed these admonitions, then the economy would collapse. Investors in tobacco, alcohol, junk food and medical & pharmaceuticals industries would be in agony as their shares dropped in value. Investors tell their own kids "don't smoke", "don't drink", "save your money", "don't eat junk food", "don't start drinking coffee" etc. Yet they obviously are hoping other people's kids will do all those things and do lots of it.

In this light, the perfect citizen is not the one who has no 'bad' habits and is frugal. It is the one sitting in front of the TV, watching ads, drinking pop, eating junk food and planning their next trip to the mall. As they get older, they smoke, become addicted to alcohol, continue to eat junk food, and buy a car. If they end up in jail, they create jobs for police, ambulance, social workers, jail guards, lawyers, rehab workers, judges and court workers. If their health eventually gives out, they become consumers of the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

All these things make the economy grow and create jobs.

The worst citizen, in terms of the economy, is one who is "responsible." They don't have children, don't watch TV, don't buy music, don't waste their money at coffee shops, movie theatres, bars or shopping malls. They only eat low-cost unprocessed, healthy food like brown rice, oatmeal, beans, lentils, and vegetables. They walk or bike and use public transit and the public library. They buy all their gifts at garage sales. They don't become addicted to unhealthy substances and they rarely need any health care. They are a scourge on the economy, and an enemy to job creation.

Another problem with using consumption (economic growth) to solve poverty:
free will means people do not have to consume to give other people jobs.

shoppers filling their car with goods

Even if we want to consume, there are physical and time limits to consumption. People can only eat so much, drink so much, and their houses (and cars) will only hold so many goods.


The goal of seeking job creation through economic growth is a goal that seeks to increase the world's consumption. It requires more planned obsolescence and bigger landfills. And yet because of free will and limits to consumption this is an impossible, ecocidal goal.

Yet this goal is attempted because people desperately seek jobs to stay alive because they have no productive choice: they must produce or die. And if no one consumes what they produce they lose their job and live in poverty.

ashtray full of cigarette buts

Without a guaranteed income, consumption of soft drinks, tobacco, alcohol, sugared foods, fast food, etc. is needed in order to keep millions of jobs in those industries. In effect we are trading our health, and our children health for jobs. See our section on Health.

Having people switch to non-processed foods would not produce the same number of jobs. In addition, healthy diets and lifestyles would also reduce the number of jobs in the health care industries.



Without a guaranteed income, war is needed to keep millions of jobs in the arms and military industry. (See Military Keynsianism) Without a guaranteed income, switching from a car-based transportation system to public transit and alternative transportation is highly unlikely because it would eliminate too many jobs.


Without a guaranteed income, the anti-consumer movement makes no sense and, if it actually caught on, it would first imperil those who are the most economically vulnerable: people living in poverty (especially mothers and children) and people working at all those low-wage jobs retail and service jobs.

Advocating a guaranteed income is the only way to tell people to stop consuming without causing mass lay-offs, and mass poverty.

Only people who hate the poor would wish for an economic collapse without wanting to put in place a guaranteed income first.

In addition, the "too many people" people need to understand that reductions in population means reductions in consumption which means reduction in jobs. Again, the poorest people would be hurt first by job cuts. The "too many people" people should support a guaranteed income as it would allow a transition to an economy that does not require population growth.

The popularly accepted idea that there are "too many people" creates the idea of scarcity, it promotes the idea that there is 'not enough' to go around and justifies leaving masses of people on the planet (predominantly mothers and children) to live in poverty and misery and have their lives shortened prematurely. The idea of scarcity allows the murder of the world's poor. Because in fact, there is not scarcity but the opposite.

Next: The Glut of Goods
Back to Jobism
Related article at - The Ethical Shopping Dilemma