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The Materials Economy - Discussion

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"The world market is a system in crisis!" - Discuss It has been argued whether the world market is really a system in crisis. Some people think that the statement is true, while some stand against it. Here, while the woman in "The Story of Stuff" thinks that the world market is a system in crisis, the man in "The Story of Stuff - The Critique" thinks the opposite. In this essay, I will discuss both views ("The Story of Stuff" and "The Story of Stuff - The Critique") and by weighing up the reasonability of evidence from both sides, I will make a conclusion about whether I agree with it or not. According to the woman in "The Story of Stuff", all things move through five distinct stages: Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption and Disposal. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss both views stage-by-stage. To begin with, 'extraction' literally means taking the planet's resources. However, according to "The Story of Stuff", it is just a fancy word for "trashing the planet" because to get resources, we have to cut down forests, blow up mountains to get metals inside, use up water and destroy animals' habitats. Actually, she says that we are running out of resources. In the past 30 years, one third of the planet's natural resources has been used up, which means that we are making human life on Earth less sustainable. Moreover, she states that some countries, such as USA, are actually using more than share. ...read more.


Thirdly, I am going to discuss "distribution". "Distribution" involves transporting and selling all the toxic-contaminated stuff quickly by keeping the prices down and keep the people buying them. According to the woman in "The Story of Stuff", to keep the prices down, store workers are not paid well and are not given health insurance. Moreover, she thinks that the real costs of making stuff are not captured in the price, which means we are not really paying for what we buy. This is called "externalising costs". For example, she believes that a radio cannot cost �4.99 because different parts of the radio are made from materials from all around the world; and at each stage people are paying different costs for its manufacturing which are not covered in the final price! On the contrary, the man in "The Story of Stuff - The Critique" believes differently. He thinks that wages for employment is based on supply and demand, which means if there is a huge supply of labour then wages for a certain job will be lower because many people will want the job. Moreover, he says that the fact that the production process is being globalised should be applauded as a positive thing! Also, he believes that what the woman says about "externalising costs" is not true because the final cost of a product must reflect the costs while producing it, otherwise companies would not make any profit. ...read more.


However, of course, the man in "The Story of Stuff" opposes to the ideas presented by the woman. He argues that we are not running out of landfill space, as compacting technology has been ameliorated. Additionally, he states that "a large hazard does not equal a large risk". For example, if you live somewhere far away from where dioxins are produced, it is very unlikely that you get harmed from dioxins. Moreover, he gives an example that an area just exports its disposal to an area nearby: New York City to New Jersey. Therefore, we cannot say that people just try to pass this problem to others to cope with, as they themselves will also suffer from the consequences! Furthermore, he says that recycling can only be good if people do it voluntarily. In fact, most people by recycled stuff home, such as that houses are actually recycled! In summary, after weighing up carefully both sides, I go with the man's opinion. This is because his points are more reasonable and analytical and outweigh far more the woman's. Most of the points made by the woman are proved wrong by the man, so we just have to believe in the man rather than her. In my own opinion, if we do what the woman thoughtlessly tells us to do, which is to stop consuming, our living standards will decrease significantly. To those who are still on the woman's side, remember this: "We are not forced to buy things because we live in a free society: if you don't want to shop, then don't!". ...read more.

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