Enviro-films get attacked for all sorts of odd reasons -- and the 20-minute eco-film The Story of Stuff, which points out that buying a whole lot of crap will cost you a lot of money and not do the environment any favors, is no exception. A parent in Missoula County, Montana, complained about the video's “anti-capitalist” message -- prompting the school board to decide that The Story of Stuff “violated its standards on bias.”
Of course, that anti-capitalist message may be just what we need to make us happier. Dan Gilbert, psychology professor at Harvard and author of Stumbling on Happiness, points out in a recent TED talk that we've been conditioned by our capitalist society to think our happiness means less when it's not accompanied by stuff we want (via No Impact Man):
Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted. Synthetic happiness is what we make when we don't get what we wanted. In our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind. Why do we have that belief? Well, it's very simple. What kind of economic engine would keep churning if we believed that not getting what we want could make us just as happy as getting it.
Incidentally, Dan points out that we're best able to manufacture our own happiness when we're left with no choices (i.e. are stuck with the pair of jeans you bought due to a no returns policy). That's what Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, based his TED talk on a few years back. Barry too floated a rather anti-capitalist idea: Embracing income redistribution — which’d give the poorest people more choice, while limiting the choices of the richest people a bit — thereby leaving both the poor AND the rich better off in terms of personal satisfaction, happiness, etc.
Make a firm, non-reversible decision to watch Barry's 20-minute talk now:
Last but not least: Here's the Story of Stuff:
Have a happy anti-capitalist day --
Photo by Steve Wampler