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Excessive Consumerism

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Ayşe İpek Talu

21502983

Eng 101-34

Essay 1

10 March 2016

Recently one of the our most important problems is preventable suffering. A lot of people suffer from starvation, lack of food and medical care. While the poor suffer from these situations others live in wealth, they enjoy their lives and they do a lot of consumerism. Does this mean the rich who have a consumer lifestyle don’t provide any help for the poor? I think it is not true. In my opinion when people live their life in wealth, they can also help the helpless ones. They don’t have to sacrifice their lifestyle to help others. Excessive consumerism can be morally justified because our consumerism may have good consequences; in other words we can help people with our consumerism. Furthermore, nobody has the responsibility to help people.

The first thing I want to mention is that consumerism may have some good consequences. We can help people while we are consuming. For instance, some famous brands like Apple, Gap, Starbucks, Armani, Coca Cola, Converse, Nike help to eliminate AIDS in Africa (Schiller 1).  For help, Converse is selling a shoe made from African mud cloth and like other brands Nike has a special product for this purpose. It has released a special line of red shoelaces with the profit going to the charity. In addition to this, when we buy new products we may be able to give the old ones to charitable organizations. For example, in Turkey some corporations like LÖSEV and the Society for the Protection of Children take your old belongings and clothes to give them to people who are suffering from poverty. Moreover, today we have a lot of different companies which are producing cheap products for the people who have a few money. This means almost everyone can find what they need to buy. Another example of good consequences of consumerism is a campaign which was done in 2014. In that year, thousands of people spilled ice and water on their heads and then they gave a total of 115 million dollars to help those who were suffering from ALS, which is a neurodegenerative disease. If we didn’t have smart phones and if we didn’t spend money on smart phones, people wouldn’t be able to help ALS patients. This shows us despite the fact that the rich have no responsibility to help the poor. They help because of their good hearts.

Secondly, people have no obligation to help the suffering ones who they don’t know. Nobody can blame you for not helping. It is your money, your opinion, your desire. Arthur said that “It is that our code does not require such heroism; you are entitled to keep your second eye and kidney and not bestow sexual favors on anyone who may be harmed without them. The reason for this is often expressed in terms of rights; it’s your body, you have a right to it and that weighs against whatever duty you have to help. To sacrifice a kidney for a stranger is to do more than is required, it’s heroic.” (849). What this means is, everybody has their right to keep their belongings for themselves. Nobody can critize this. People don’t have to give from themselves, from their opportunities. They mustn’t give until they reach the level of marginal utility. Rules that would work only for angels are not the ones it is rational to support for humans (Arthur, 852). Furthermore, even if we make our decision to help, after some time we can think our money may be unnecessary charity marketing budget or an unneeded salary. Owing to this, we can change our mind. In addition to this, we can not be sure about suffering people are lying or not. Singer says, instant communication and swift transportation changed this situation (837). Is this true? People can still fool the rich for money and help. We are not obligated to give. We don’t have to justify our consumerism rather than justifying our rights. We are entitled to invoke our own rights as justification for not giving (Arthur, 850). In other words, we have some rights to not to give.

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