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The Consumers

Written by Louis Even on Saturday, 15 October 2016. Posted in In This Age of Plenty (book)

In this age of plenty - Chapter 3

The end of all economic activities is therefore the satisfaction of man's needs. Man, while he satisfies his needs, performs the function of consumer. 

When hungry, man eats, he consumes food.  If he is cold, he dresses or warms himself; he consumes clothing or fuel.

Where things are properly ordered, where the end governs the means, it is man "the consumer" who presides over the whole economy. And since every man is a consumer, it is every man who must contribute to the orientation given to the production and distribution of goods.

It is for man “the consumer” that all economic activities exist. Man, the consumer, must therefore organize production. It is he, the consumer, who must convey his orders to the production system.

A truly human economy is social: it must satisfy ALL men. Therefore, ALL men and EVERY man must be able to pass their orders to the productive system - at least until their basic needs are satisfied - as long as production is capable of answering these demands.

The needs of consumers... who can better express them than the consumers? A man, a woman, here in this apartment, there at the doorstep of their house, elsewhere in town, in the countryside, wherever they may be, whoever they may be... who can know their needs better than they?

Each consumer knows his own needs: it is therefore from each consumer that the productive capacity must get its orders. In a system truly organized to satisfy the needs of consumers - of all consumers - all consumers must have the means to express their needs and to order the goods that answer these needs.

Production is not justified in taking its orders elsewhere. This is nevertheless what happens when businesses pressure the consumers into buying things for which they feel no need. Production then takes its orders, not from the consumers, but from the search for profits.

With beings devoid of reason, with animals, with  men who do not have the use of their faculties, who lack the understanding of their needs, one can concede the need for outside intervention to dictate to these consumers what they must obtain. But not so with rational beings.

Consumers must therefore be able to freely order the goods that are useful for the satisfaction of their normal needs. Whatever the nature of the means adopted to express these orders, the orders must come from the consumers for as long as there are, on the one hand, unsatisfied normal needs, and, on the other hand, goods to satisfy these needs.


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