Globalization and the Impact of American Consumerism

Topics: Federal Reserve System, Culture, United States Pages: 6 (1554 words) Published: July 10, 2012
Globalization and the impact of American Consumerism

Globalization is a complex system of social, economic, and political factors that adhere not only in relation to states or nations, but also to the globe as an interrelated unit. Globalization is run by actors on the international stage, which operates through several categories positioned at different levels, each with a specific function to serve the American capitalist system. The cultural-ideology of consumerism supports the global capitalist system; it promotes a social trend in which the population consumes vast amounts of resources incredibly fast and without concern for the environmental impact.

The American idiom is forged from the fires of a unifying logic, bigger, better, faster, and cheaper. While this concept is the one that makes the American dream a possibility, it is not the most efficient process for sustainable growth, as our recent financial meltdown has evidenced. We have backed ourselves into a proverbial corner, and it looks like we won’t be returning to prosperity any time soon. One of the main sources for concern in the U.S. economy has been that the average American does not know how to pay for their larger purchases with

cash. In most instances, Americans choose to finance their purchases beyond their ability to pay for them and their home mortgages have been no different, as it is explained in research conducted by the Federal Reserve Board, “Since 1975, total household debt in the US has grown by a factor of 41/2 when adjusted for inflation. Household debt from mortgages over that same period has similarly grown by a factor of 51/2. In fact, total household debt in the US increased every single year from 1982 to 2007, even when factoring in inflation, except in the recession year of 1991” (Federal Reserve Board 2008). The Sub-prime loan process and its resulting Domino effect, has catapulted the U.S. economy into the worst economic forecast since the Great Depression, the America consumer was the catalyst of this crisis, caused by a generation of people that never learned the value of saving. Choosing to pay for high priced items with free-flowing credit from, a combination of credit cards, easy to obtain mortgages and lax personal loan standards, all designed by the banking industry to maximize profitability at the consumers expense. Of course these practices cannot be explained away as easily as being the brainchild of some corporate banker, of just the government De-regulating the banking industry. These practices have emerged because the average consumer doesn't care where their loan originated from or who owns their mortgage after it leaves the negotiation table, they only care that they were able to achieve some part of “The American Dream”. However antiquated that dream may be.

The global effect of American consumerism is wide reaching, effecting all other nations and cultures around the planet, all in the name of progress. In a research paper written by Jeffery Jensen Arnett published in The American Psychologist, he describes globalization as existing for centuries, encompassing many cultures and accelerating those cultures through trade and innovation, while sharing an economic future that is “interdependent” with one another. One of the positive benefits of globalization is in education, especially in the secondary school system. Children of working age in developing countries traditionally had to quit school and return home to help earn money for the home. This trend has started to end, because of technological advances in communication, especially where tele-communication is concerned.

Table 1
Changes in Secondary School Enrollment in Selected Countries 1980 Latest year


Cited: Press, 1998.
Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States: Flows and Outstandings; Federal Reserve Board,

D.C.), December 11, 2008

The world’s youth, 2000; Population Reference Bureau; Washington, DC: (2000)
The Psychology of Globalization; Jeffery Jensen Arnett, published in, The American
Psychologist, October, 2002.
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