Juliet Schor breaks a taboo by exposing Americans’ shopping habits to moral society. Schor disapproves of unfettered private consumption, not only because we already use up so much, but also because overspending to bolster a sense of self does not lead to happiness. Along with her critique, Schor suggests intriguing ideas for making ’status’ goods accessible for all--for example, imposing high taxes on expensive items to subsidize lines of affordable ’luxury’ goods. A firestorm of responses follow from economist Robert Frank and others.
The New Democaracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns. The series editors (for Boston Review), Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, aim to foster politically engaged, intellectually honest, and morally serious debate about fundamental issues-both on and off the agenda of conventional politics.
“Do Americans shop too much? Yes, but there’s one more thing they should buy-this book, which offers lucid new perspectives on what drives us to the mall.” —Barbara Ehrenreich
“Juliet Schor manages to insert a new question into our politics, and not a moment too soon. May the reactions to her ideas be the beginning of a robust public discussion, not merely an academic discourse. These issues will leap off the page at every reader who has ever wondered about why on earth he’s living the way he is.” —Bill McKibben
“I read everything that is written by Juliet Schor. The reasons are clear and compelling. She is a fine writer, always has something new and important to say, and always I am persuaded and grateful. So with this excellent piece of work.” —John Kenneth Galbraith
“A civic treasure. . . . A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.” —Robert Pinsky