Ben wrote:It seems from my point of view that consumption appears to be a major driver of economic growth.
...and "austerity" does the opposite, as some European nations are rediscovering.
The problems come about when this "pump priming" (either via government spend, or private spend through government handouts) is when either the levels of debt become untenable, or when capacity cannot increase (i.e. due to lack of efficiency gains) and all you get is inflationary pressure as more people compete for limited goods and services.
Capitalism really has just become a consumption machine, but it has no inherent checks and balances to question the real cost
of the relentless drive to maximise net consumption (e.g. vested interests, wealth/income inequality, environmental degradation).
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"Whether I were to preach in brief, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach in detail, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach both in brief or in detail, Sāriputta, rare are those who understand." (A I 333, Sāriputtasutta)