Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day Blog

The rebound effect is an unintended negative consequence to increased efficiency. Rather than causing an overall decrease in the consumption of a resource, the rebound effect causes an overall increase in the consumption of this resource as a result of heightened efficiency. According to the rebound effect, the initial decrease in consumption will be followed by a reduction in price of the resource. A lower price will then result in increased consumption, thereby increasing overall consumption of the resource. One example of this is the sales of SUVs a few years back. As hybrids became mainstream, and gas prices skyrocketed, SUV prices had to be dropped. As a result of lower prices, sales picked up again. Another example, as noted by Dardozzi, is the increase in paper consumption as a result of technological advances in offices. As the cost per word to print plummeted, paper consumption greatly increased.

I think there is so much emphasis on consumer spending because it's the one thing Americans have always done; it's what our economy is based on. America functions as a free-market system. In stark contrast to the former Soviet Union, our country's businesses face very little government intervention. Consumer saving appears to be the answer because our government does not involve itself in the marketplace. It is up to us to save our own way of life. If consumers stop spending so much our economy faces possible ruin. Without consistent consumer spending, the American economy could collapse in on itself. If we stop spending, there will be consequential job loss, which will only further the cycle.

"Sea of selves" is the term applied to the American citizens who continue to refuse to forfeit their "illusions of freedom for the sake of collective survival." Put in another way, the people of this country view survival in individual terms. We try to protect ourselves, and maybe a few others close to us, at the expense of the country. America is a "sea" made up of "selves".

When Bailey discusses his notion of the civic and divine, he is referencing two different ways in which people relate to the collective. Civic concerns the responsibility and obligation the individual feels toward the collective. The civic is what attaches the individual and the collective. The divine, on the other hand, refers to the individual's concept of something altogether "bigger". Bailey believes the individual must believe in something grander for self-interest as well as the best interest of the collective.

I don't think that Dardozzi's essay provides the complete solution to Jevon's Paradox, but I believe it is a good place to start. Unfortunately, I think it will be difficult to convince Americans to abandon their individualism and begin thinking in terms of the country as a whole. It is too easy and convenient for each of us to "quarantine" ourselves; we try not to worry about any of these issues as long as they don't directly affect us. If we could each learn to think in terms of the civic and divine, we could certainly establish a jumping-off point. However, I am not totally optimistic that we can think of the collective as much as the individual.

I think I understand why Professor Hirsch made this assignment due on Veteran's Day. America's veterans serve the country as a whole, not the individual. They sacrifice personal freedoms and opportunities for the good of us all. These are men and women who serve the ideals of civic and divine. I also believe Professor Hirsch hopes we can learn from our veterans; their loyalty and sense of duty is a perfect model for what must be done for the country in the near future.

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