Sunday, June 9, 2013


The phenomenon of the expansion of needs

It’s also sustained the argument of the “expansion of the needs” according to which in the measure that the levels of income and consumption of the people increase also increase their needs so that, paradoxically, the gap of dissatisfaction or of unsatisfied needs tends to grow up instead of diminishing.

In fact, the Greek philosopher Platon had observed this more of two thousand years ago and for it he said that “poverty is not caused by the decrease of wealth, but rather for the multiplication of desires”. So, one can be miser in between opulence, a poor man in luxury; because while the poor person’s hunger can be been satisfied with by bread, the rich person’s hunger is insatiable and, what is worse, grows up as more it tries to satiate it. The rich person that seeks to be happy consuming everyday more and more goods tends for it to create for himself more needs and, therefore, to feel more dissatisfaction. In order to illustrate this with an analogy we could say that he is like a thirsty man that seeks to calm his thirst drinking salt water or that he is like a hamster that tries to get ahead of the wheel that he himself is triggering with his own forces.

But it is important to have in mind that the above not only is valid for the individuals but also for the groups and nations because, as to the famous North American economist John Kenneth Galbraith explained in his book The Affluent Society (1958), “in the measure that a society become more opulent, needs keep on being created more and more all by the same process that satisfies them” (1). In this sense, the market has passed from be a mechanism for the satisfaction of the needs to become in a producer of needs.

Only economists (specially neoclassics) ignore this uncontrovertible reality because they are afraid to verify the falseness of their religion when looks refuted the sacred dogma of the consumer’s sovereignty. But it is enough with to observe how the market of cellular phones has evolved to come to realize how the reality has refuted this theorem completely. Initially cellular phones were acquired by important executives of large firms with needs of communication. A short time after they became cheaper and began to offer services like hour, alarm, text messages and notebook, all relatively reasonable. Next they began to offer services of enjoyment such like radio, games, player of images, camera of photos, video player, internet, bluetooth, touch screens and so on. Thus, the innovation began to sophisticate themselves more and more create us many “superfluous needs” as to know the luck in the horoscope daily, to have personalized pornography, to receive advices of how to kiss, to have sex, to be infidel and a lot of things more.

Thus, the cell went from being a mere object of use to become a powerful weapon to exploit the "needs" of individuals by subjecting them to a terrible dependence on fashion and technology and making them live in a constant state of anxiety and tension as they no longer consume to be satisfied but rather to escape from dissatisfaction. It seems that rather than the production of companies serve consumer needs are the needs of consumers those that serve the production of companies, as if they were wagons of a frenetic train moved from side to side by fashion, technological change and the desire for profits.


1. John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, Ariel Press, Barcelona, 1984, p. 204.

You can contact the author of this article in: “Dante Abelardo Urbina Padilla” (Facebook) and (email)