There are many reasons why consumerism and capitalism have been negative and generally corrupting influences. One of the simplest examples of this is the way we judge the efficacy of public policy by how much money it costs.
It really does seem to be accepted by most people that if you increase spending on education by 25 percent then you automatically get 25 percent better education. If you double spending on health then you must get a health system that is twice as good. All social problems are solved by spending money. There is no need to give any actual thought to the nature of the problems being addressed or to various policy options. What matters is how much money gets spent.
This is accepted because we know that virtue is measured by money. The societies that spend the most on education, health, social welfare, etc, are the most virtuous societies. The politicians who support spending the most money on these problems are the most virtuous politicians.
The fact the spending more on education just means more money going into the pockets of assorted parasites like diversity counsellors or our already overpaid teaches doesn’t matter. The fact that increased health spending merely directs more money to administrators and other parasites doesn’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not attacking the welfare state. I like the welfare state. But it is smart to give some thought as to how money is going to get spent.
The argument applies to right-wing sacred cows just as much as to left-wing sacred cows. People fondly imagine that an increase in defence spending makes the nation more secure. In many cases it makes the nation less secure, either by provoking or alarming potential enemies, or by encouraging insanely aggressive foreign policies or ridiculous foreign policy entanglements. Look at Britain for example. If the British reduced their defence spending to sensible levels they’d be a lot safer. Sensible levels would be close to zero. Britain faces zero military threats. Anything more than a token defence force just encourages British fantasies of being a great power again. Britain’s security depends on accepting the reality that Britain’s days as a great power are over.
Spending money is the easy way to solve problems. It always sounds impressive. The people making the decisions have the luxury of spending other people’s money. And if the policies end in failure there’s a built-in excuse. We just didn’t spend enough money. If we spend more next time the problems will definitely be fixed.