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The Story of Stuff

May 12, 2009

This video is worth checking out. You can find out more at The Story of Stuff website. Its use in high school classrooms was discussed in the NYT here.

One criticism I have is the suggestion that American happiness peaked in the 1950’s. For whom? White males?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2009 2:30 pm

    But if those white men were happy enough, like way beyond the sort of mere insular smugness we associate with those people from that time and them places – positively euphoric, I mean – then their happiness would surely be enough to outweigh others’ misery. Shit, you could drown the world with that sort of euphoria.

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    May 12, 2009 3:21 pm


  3. May 13, 2009 1:35 am

    It makes sense to me that, once peoples bellies are generally filled, something though not universal in the 50s was more common than it used to be, social mobility actually puts a bit of a dampner upon happiness.

    Because there is still only going to be X number of places at the top, and the fact that more kinds of people can get those places doesn’t change the fact “I” am a loser who didn’t, rather, it makes me feel as though I personally must be inferior in some way.

    In a system with less social mobility (which I guess is what the 50s had, although I prefer the middle ages) I haven’t the slightest expectation of getting to the top, I don’t have people shoving down my throat the idea that greedy people scrambling for the top is what is good for society, and I know the reason I am never going to get there is because the system is rigged not because I as an individual am flawed.

    I can do my work, know its a damn sight more useful than that of parasites in the upper echelons and have no real hopes to be dashed of ever experiencing any other kind of life (this also motivates me to work for improvements in conditions where I am rather than to endure them on the assumption I will eventually move out of this lowly spot).

    Social mobility has its costs.

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    May 13, 2009 5:38 am

    Hi Sophia, I don’t think it is just about the possibility of upward mobility: it is also about basic dignity and respect. In addition, not everyone in America in the 50s had their bellies full …

  5. May 13, 2009 12:24 pm

    Well I said more than before.
    And that relative increase in prosperity, the sense that things are better now than 20 years ago, also would make people happier right?

    I mean nowadays, who has much in the way of gratitude for anything? There seems to be a culture of being discontent, everyone thinking they are entitled to more than what they get (not just materially).

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    May 14, 2009 11:45 am

    I agree that many bourgeois are unhappy when they probably should be, if you looked at their material wealth.

  7. May 14, 2009 12:08 pm

    If bourgeois refers to class then I would say it goes a lot further than that…

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