"...sometimes the more choices we have, the less happy we are. "Hey," one thinks, "this is a cool [fill in the blank], but it's not as cool as my friend's. Maybe I should have gotten the other [emphasis added] one at the store; maybe I should get a new [emphasis added] one." This often creates not only an endless stream of needless consumption but also a continual lack of satisfaction due to actual and anticipated buyer's remorse."
This lack of filling our satisfaction yet continues to fill land, water and air with waste and pollution.
There is another way we can view the issue of choice as related to consumption, and that is what Ethan, another Graham Fellow, is studying by looking into what is termed as "political consumption." Generally, consumption and choice are studied in isolation, not in relation to politics. Generally, we are not thinking politically when we buy a certain product. But about 5-10% of people consume with politics and ethics in mind - how do the choices we make reflect our values, beliefs and morals? For example, many of us choose to buy locally grown, small-scale farm organic foods because we are against the political forces driving the industrial agricultural engine. So here is a loaded question that Ethan posed as a part of his dissertation work:
When and how does the issue of choice and consumption turn into a political matter?