CENGIZ – Turks’ ordeal with consumption

Turks’ ordeal with consumptionIn the second action plan recently announced by the prime minister, which attracted little attention in the press, reference was also made to savings. The prime minister underlined that for continuous growth, Turkey needs to increase the amount of its savings, given that it does not have natural resources and suffers from a lack of savings.

The total share of private and public sector savings stands at 14 percent this means that 86 percent of the national income is happily consumed. This makes Turkey one of the worst-performing countries in the world in terms of savings.

However, it is not easy to increase the share of savings. For more on this, you may take a look at Seyfettin Gurseland#39s column in Turkish: www.

zaman.comtrseyfettin-gurseltasarruflar-zor-artar_2265597.

htmlIn a nutshell, the column stresses that the idea in the action plan suggesting that the amount of savings will be increased by informing people properly and raising awareness about the virtues of saving as well as promoting private retirement schemes is a futile attempt, and that the actual matter is the weakness of taxation policies. This is true, but the savings problem is both economically and sociologically highly complicated.

In economic terms, domestic consumption is simply the motor of the Turkish economy. The consumption share of the national income is 70 percent.

This means that Turkey grows through consumption, not through production. For this reason, even though it is a vital goal, increasing savings posits a paradox.

If revenues move from consumption to savings, the economy would be negatively affected. The savings deficit would, in due course, eventually reduce consumption but to foresee this requires vision, discipline and sacrifice.

And the political administration of this country does not have any of these qualities. Let me give you a simple example to illustrate the point: Commercial fishermen, despite regulations, keep violating size limits.

This is an irresponsible choice, given that they are actually catching the fish their children are supposed to catch. They actually fish their future! Despite this, they still do it.

The consumer who ignores the necessity of saving is like the fisherman.Economic prosperity is now the most fundamental social value in Turkey, which has been seeking to secure rapid development over the last decade.

Economic activity that was limited to Istanbul and a number of Anatolian cities became part of a common market. Turkish people discover the goodies of the system and increasingly become dependent on consumption.

The share of debt compared to household income increased from 34 percent in 2002 to 55.2 percent in 2013.

This hedonistic celebration consumes the present and the future as well. The ambition to consume more is the dominant negative energy in Turkey, which becomes exhausted by further consumption.

Consumerism, the primary tool and mechanism of a neoliberal economy, is not even a word in the Turkish language. Consumerism is sustainable neither on the local nor the global scale in economic, political, moral or environmental terms.

The people of the world will ultimately have to restrict their consumption. The question is whether this will be done voluntarily or coercively.

Nobody says that we have to go back to a philosophy of minimal consumption. But we also need to realize that consumption is a form of arrogance peculiar to mankind.

Are there any obese animals in the world other than domesticated pets? And the concept: andldquoThe Westerners consumed as they wanted, so it is now our turn,andrdquo is not sustainable either, simply because the planet does not have the ability to handle that much consumption! One may think capitalism is endless but the resources of the planet definitely are not.Serious scientific works remind us that the world is moving toward irrevocable damage and disaster very quickly.

Despite this, political decision-makers act as if they are not aware of it. Turkish rulers are among the champions of these unconscious decision-makers when they declare, andldquoThere is no limit when it comes to serving the people the price does not matterandrdquo The problem is that this price is the future of the country as well as the planet.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman