The OWS movement brings back to me memories of my American macro-economics teacher at Webster Thailand. He was older and unattractive, moving from the U.S. to Thailand to have a younger, attractive partner in one of the most pleasant countries at the time. At least that was what other Americans assumed his reason for being in Thailand to be.
Many westerners came to Thailand to have a better quality of life: better food, much nicer people and warm climate. Thailand brings so much pleasure to many foreigners because Thai people appear non-judgemental and so hospitable. One feels almost zero pressure while living in Thailand.
Back to the American teacher… He was teaching us theories and paradigms of economics from the textbook but severely criticized those theories the whole time. He said, which I will never forget, that the GDP doesn’t implicate a single thing about the people’s quality of life in any given country. In economics, there is not and should be an index that measures people’s happiness. He said we need something like a GDH/GNH – Gross Domestic Happiness/Gross National Happiness index. He seemed clearly dissatisfied with the American way of life and dropped out of it to come to Thailand.
Matt Taylor is another person I know that distrusted the system completely in the tangible values it brings to his life. Unlike the OWS people, he thought the best way to beat the system is to use it to one’s self-serving purposes. He took out student loan and credit card money to enjoy himself to the maximum in cheaper foreign countries. However, Matt is an extreme case. He got an almost criminal mind frame.
The American consumers now are suffering the worst dissillusionment with their social-economic system. For a long time, people were going on as if everything was alright in the States. People trusted the system because they still benefited from it. Now they recently realized that system could punishe severely the normal people and reward few priviledged people greatly at the cost of the every-day people. On top of that, the government has abused tax-payers’ money and almost bankrupted itself for foreign wars which do not serve people at home in more immediate, tangible ways. IT’s like to me, America and the Western credit-based way of life has eventually felt hollow inside, now that people don’t have credits to buy things to distract themselves. It’s like they suddenly have figured it out that if they benefited from the system in the past, the 1% always benefited much more and are not subject to such cruel punishment as insanely high credit interests, housing foreclosure or lack of consistent income.
It’s weird! When I was in the States, I didn’t get that hollow feeling at all. It seemed people were very accepting of their way of life–house, friends, children, family, jobs, pets, eating-out, shopping, reading, etc. Perhaps people were all wonderfully distracted without knowing it?
I don’t think consumerism is the key to people’s lack of good feelings. Retail therapy is only the short-term remedy which is in the end wasteful and addictive. And the system that enables the people who don’t have cash a consumeristic life style holds their short-term pleasure over their heads and could punish them severely when things go wrong. In the States, banks behave like loan sharks.