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Thread: Is it ethical to spend so much just because you can?

  1. #1

    Default Is it ethical to spend so much just because you can?

    Something I've been thinking alot about lately - for me personally, I live in decent home (which I own), I earn decent money, I have a number of charities and sponserships....but part of me still feels sort of guilty (for want of a better word) when I spend money - like a new outfit for a wedding, or clothes, or shoes or whatever, things I don't really 'need' but desire, when I could be giving more to others.
    And then I open a magazine (another luxury!) and some celebrety has just spent millions of dollars on a wedding, or a summer house, or x celebrity has requested a refurbished hotel room for their stay, or whatever and I find that appalling to spend so much on such frivolous things when I wonder how many mouths could be fed with that, how many lives saved, etc.



    But, then I think, am I really that different? What I spend is probably in comparision with what I earn to what they spend and earn.

    I suppose I feel it's so sad that there are so many starving children (and adults) and homeless and sick and dying in our world, it seems just so wrong.

    What's everyone else think?

  2. #2

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    If you can spend, right now you have an ethical duty to. Think of all those people whose jobs are in the balance. It could be that your purchase is the one that tips the balance and keeps the store open. The people who make the product get to stay in a job. Spending money means you are stopping people from ending up homeless and hungry.

    By all means give more to charities if you want. But don't stop spending! With a global recession going on, shoppers are needed.

  3. #3

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    Don't feel bad, you are doing your bit for the economy! If people who could afford it, didn't buy the more expensive things, or didn't spend as often, then more people would lose their jobs and the economy would be worse off than it is!

    People need to buy so we can employ people in retail and manufacturing and transport.

    Also, if you buy Australian, you are helping locals who struggle to compete against cheap asian imports.

    So spend away my friend!

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ausgirl View Post
    And then I open a magazine (another luxury!) and some celebrety has just spent millions of dollars on a wedding, or a summer house, or x celebrity has requested a refurbished hotel room for their stay, or whatever and I find that appalling to spend so much on such frivolous things when I wonder how many mouths could be fed with that, how many lives saved, etc.
    ...
    I suppose I feel it's so sad that there are so many starving children (and adults) and homeless and sick and dying in our world, it seems just so wrong.

    What's everyone else think?
    I wonder exactly the same Ausgirl.. I always think if I won lotto, I would save the world ... nice pipe dream I guess.

    Another flip side of spending is the affect that consumerism has on the environment.... all that waste, and all those resources being used to make more and more stuff.

    ETA - I'm not perfect, I'm as guilty as the next person of buying crap I don't need... but in answer to the OP, yes I think about it

  5. #5

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    Having more money to spend gives you the option to make ethical choices, especially on the food you buy. If you are not as restricted on budget you can support local produce, organic and free range animal products and buying from companies that behave responsibly towards their employees and the environment. Once you start looking into it you realise so many purchasing choices can make a difference. You can also opt to pay a bit more for your electricity to have a certain amount come from renewable energy.

    I use the Shop Ethical app to help me choose what to buy (which is not free either).

  6. #6

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    I feel very fortunate that we have a bit more money to spend on our health which many people would call a luxury and health comes in many forms, massages, acupuncture, chiropractic, dental, private health cover, good food, vitamins, organic produce etc. Every now and again I get really down about what we can afford and others can't but then I slap myself and realise that we have made good choices and worked bloody hard to get where we are and we deserve to have a comfortable life and enjoy things even if they are considered things that we may not 'need'.

  7. #7

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    I think it comes down to being conscious about your spending.

    For example, the other day I spent $50. I had the choice between buying something brand new from overseas for a few dollars more, or buying one that was secondhand, in good condition from someone in Australia. The shop was ebay, the thing was books. Technically, not something I *needed* but I chose the option that I felt was the most morally sound for me. It was a conscious choice. And i try to dispose of things consciously too - looking after them so I can pass them along in good condition to someone else who would love ot have the things I have.

    I think Jennifer makes a very good point. I would love to be able to afford a hybrid car, solar panels, retrofitting my house with energy-efficient features, but we can not do that until we have built our wealth some more.

    I'm not sure though to what extent my spending or lack thereof helps people who are sick or starving or homeless though. I think maybe those problems are solveable through the investment of time and energy, rather than money per se. Which stimulates another question- am I spending my TIME and ENERGY in an ethical way?

  8. #8

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    Hi Ausgirl - I totally feel what you are saying. I feel exactly the same way. I really feel like our society is currently set up so we just spend more and more (often when we can't afford it) on 'stuff'. It is as if we are looking for happiness in a box. I am very worried about humans living within their biological means. I think we are living on environmental credit that we won't be able to pay back because the interest will be too high, ITMS. Every item comes from somewhere and ends up somewhere, and even if you can financially afford it, can the world afford it? A good example is all of the technology that is so standard in an Australian home, but the problem of electronic waste is a very real environmental and health issue.
    I think Jennifer has made some good points as well.

  9. #9

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    I've been reading a bit about Buddhism lately and my amateurish stab at a Buddhist perspective would say that we will be happier when we recognise that the things we think we want won't make us happy. I guess it would be better to spend our money ethically though where possible. I tend not to dwell too much on the spending money side of things but think about how I can live with more loving kindness in my heart.

  10. #10

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    We are in a world driven by comercialism and are consumers by nature, i think it is put in our brains from a young age to spend.
    is it ethical? who knows, but would it be better to be paying for a service/product and in turn helping someone else earn a wage or just to sit on the money and let it sit covered in dust for a "rainy day?"

    if you find it ethicaly wrong, then by all means do what you feel is right to do with your money, it is after all yours.



    ETA: is it a feeling of guilt for the ethical side, or a feeling of guilt buying something you KNOW you dont necisarily need?

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