Written By: - Date published: 9:08 am, October 26th, 2015 - 10 comments
Categories: capitalism, cost of living, economy, Economy, political education - Tags: , , , ,

José Mujica was President of Uruguay from 2010 until his resignation in of March this year.

Either you’re happy with very little, free of all that extra baggage, because you have happiness inside, or you’ll get nowhere. I’m not advocating poverty, I’m advocating sobriety. But since we have invented a consumer society, the economy must constantly grow. If it fails to increase, it’s a tragedy. We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs. Shopping for new, discarding the old. That’s a waste of our lives. When I buy something – when you buy something. – you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing that money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one’s life and freedom that way.

José Mujica
Former President of Uruguay

N.B. The entire film ‘Human’ is available here.

10 comments on “Sobriety”

  1. Bill 1

    I wonder how many people looking at going to work tomorrow have, somewhere in their mind, or somewhere at the back of their mind, an idea of some next shiny purchase.

    I also wonder how many people going back to work tomorrow have been plunged into poverty and are just looking to ‘get through’.

    And then I wonder, given that in any place you can see poverty you must logically also see people with too much…I wonder how many of those – I’ll call them successful middle class people – acknowledge the role they play in the creation of poverty and so, by extension, the oppression of those in poverty.

  2. Kelly-Ned 2

    It is an interesting and sobering set of thoughts.
    I sometimes pose the thought that if we have a group of people in a room and give each of the $100 then the only way for one of them to get richer is by taking money off some or all of the others. few people would feel comfortable doing that (in my observation) and many seem surprised at how they feel about that scenario when it is in terms which are so personal.
    However that is pretty much what happens in society – some take the wealth and hold it from the many.
    Doesn’t seem quite right morally as I know from personal experience that many of the have nots have worked very hard and actually made the wealth of the rich by their hard work.
    An interesting line of thought.

    • Tracey 2.1


    • Grindlebottom 2.2

      Not sure whether your thought experiment involves the group of people being locked in the room or whether they can all take their $100 and go their merry way. If they can get out, they can get more money from whoever they’re able to e.g by trading goods or services. They don’t necessarily need to take off the others who were given the $100.

      If they can’t get out, what’s the bet someone would soon induce at least some them to gamble some of their money in the hope of making more.

  3. Incognito 3

    ”You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money.”

    Not when

    ”The average Auckland home is rising in value by nearly $300 a day more than what most workers earn in a 9-to-5 shift.”

    This is the perverse disconnection of working for a living and consumption. In the past, purchases on credit or HP, etc., still needed to be ‘balanced’ by working/labouring and this included extra time for the interest.

    Nowadays, the ‘lucky ones’ can feed their hedonistic and addictive consumption habits through the mortgage; all they have to do is to keep up with minimal interest payments. They don’t have to work any harder or a minute longer. Obviously, somebody has to pay the price at some stage, but that’s now been deferred to a more distant future and hopefully (!) off-loaded to a hapless buyer with a large(r) mortgage.

    This temptation is just too much to resist for many, to state the bloody obvious.

    • When that bubble collapses and people are buried under a mortgage they can not hope to pay off and the 0.01% who caused the bubble with the fiat money they printed out of nowhere, buy the rest of the country with that same money, people will come to realize that what José Mujica is saying, is so very true!

  4. maui 4

    In a conservative country such as ours, I’m wondering how long it will take voters to vote for compassion and implement things like a basic income for a more fair society. The alternative is that we were born rock stars and our economy is going to pull more and more people into stardom. How long will the public conciousness be that we have to keep going down this track even if things progressively get worse, which is all the more likely.

  5. savenz 5

    Excellent quote.

  6. Vaughan Little 6

    I’ve started to think that consumerism is a positive thing, with big unnecessary negatives attached. like the manufacturing process… and abuse of the physical environment…

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