The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Is your public school (or private school) indoctrinating your child with this?

Education IgnoranceTo steal a bumpersticker expression from the liberal teacher’s union, “If you think education is expensive, try indoctrination.”

(This was brought to light by Glenn Beck today.)

And here is the response by the Competitive Enterprise Institute:


  1. That’s a horrible film. It teaches cynicism and distrust rather than exploration, critical thinking and solution development. I love all the value laden language. But this stuff is so over the top, I have seen it have the opposite effect. A lot of kids I know are smart enough to see through that. They are expert consumers of commercial information. They have seen really professionally manipulative stuff and this film doesn’t even compare. Using cartoons to relate to kids is also condescending, and kids I know are sensitive to that, unless the source has a sense of irony or satire to it (see: Sponge Bob).

  2. Huh?

    First off, I was under the impression that the video was targeting grown-ups more than kids. And it contains factual information. All that stuff about perceived and planned obsolescence is true, and most economists have been having a similar conversation about the consumer cycle over the last couple of decades.

    The point of the video is that our consumer habit can’t sustain itself in a linear fashion…especially now that the rest of the world is working to catch up with American Dream expectations.

    How, exactly, is this type of video a bad thing? If anything, it does introduce “exploration, critical thinking and solution development” — how many people really think about the entire lifecycle of a product they buy?

    I still can’t get why ‘conservatism’ doesn’t extend to being conservative with our finite resources in some people’s minds. Weirder still is that people feel threatened by a video like this…

  3. Hello Parent X,
    I too took the time to watch this video in full expectation to find something to be discusted by.
    To my surprise, like you I found it very appropriate to show to kids as well as grown-ups.
    The only persons I would think it be a waste of time is showing it to the members of the M.C. selfrighteous polit bureau.
    They disapprove anything that does not spring from their minds.

  4. Uups,
    Before some Wing-nut finds the typo it is “disgusted” not discusted.

  5. Have to agree with ParentX and Horst. This seems targeted at adults and seems perfectly reasonable and truthful. What I don’t get is why a subset of conservatives are so hell-bent against talking about things like this. Frankly, I would think people with real entrepreneurial spirit would see this as a whole new industry in developing new methods which reduce waste through biodegradables and new methods of production and delivery of products.

  6. I hate to engage the argument, but…. When she refers to “extraction” as “destruction”, that is a value-laden judgment. There are points I agree with in the video, but I have a hard time focusing on it because there is so much indictment. I love the cartoon of the government person polishing the business person’s boot. Come on. There are times when government protects business and times when it punishes it. It is not because business is BIG and people are LITTLE. There is much more too it than that. If targeted to adults, it is oversimplistic. If it is targeted to children it is attempting to be manipulative, but as I said, probably backfires. But as a lover of freedom, I don’t indict “education” for using this as one of many resources to teach different points of view.

  7. Jack,
    Have you ever seen any of the strip mine – destruction is not adequate. Extraction is of course just as value-laden as it gives the impression of a surgical removal.

    I think the point is government protection of business is par of the course. The only times this is not true has taken changes in public opinion so substantial that politicians must listen.

  8. Veritas Vincit says

    Parent X,
    “…And it contains factual information” really? Where did you graduate college?

    “… most economists”? huh? Please provide specifics, names, studies and dates and peer review papers. Otherwise that’s what we call a fallacy.

    But my fav of the video is its portrayal of the role of government. What a crock.

    “… If it is targeted to children it is attempting to be manipulative” Absolutely. This is not material for elementary school children who should be learning how to write and not text, to speak in full sentences, and be able to comprehend what they read.

    Horst, isn’t Colonel Clink looking for you? MachSchnell Herr Horst… Schnell!

  9. Veritas Vincit says

    A system in crisis? WTF? Its not a linear system. Soda cans are the easiest example, recycle. Electronic components are recycled. A tank to symbolize the government? What a crock of brainwashing crap.

    If you think this isn’t propaganda and indoctrination, then maybe you’re part of the problem.

    Oh Todd, strip mines? Would you please divest yourself of all copper items in your household tomorrow please.

    Everything is either grown or mined.

    And, unless you divest of every material item you own, and everything you’ve purchased in the past 30 days and begin to live in a cave … you must be part of the problem this video is addressing.

    Therefore, the rest of us would appreciate you removing yourselves from the environment as soon as possible so the rest of us can enjoy life.

  10. Just blame the petrochemical industry or blame the human species as a virus on the planet.

    Oh where are the 12 Monkeys when we need them?

  11. VV,
    The video isn’t suggesting we all live in caves to solve the problem.

    Really, try a little harder next time.

    If anyone is interested in furthering their knowledge in what is considered ‘extraction’ I would suggest searching for information on the Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg mine in Papua in Indonesia. This obviously excludes VV who has no use for actual information since that just confuses him and sends him into a rage.

    The petrochemical industry seems like as good a place to start as any. Like how Koch Industries has been charged with discharging oil into streams or releasing 91 metric tons of cancer-causing benzene from its refinery in Corpus Christi.

  12. VV and Jack,

    “Extraction” is a term that can be found in any Economics textbook. It is the proper term for the removal of a resource or for separating materials from one another (like metals from ore).

    No matter what Glenn Beck spins the word, it isn’t a “value laden judgement”.

    You asked me to cite papers, peer reviews, etc. that would show that ‘most economists’ hold this type of consumer-cycle view. The thing that strikes me about your question is that this is very Econ 101 level stuff…you can pull up the Oxford Journal if you want a micro discussion about product obsolescence, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that terms like ‘extraction’ can be found not only in high school level text books, but also in ANY corporate report in industries that rely on natural resources (food, oil, clothing, etc.)

    Perhaps this is a good illustration for why the video might seem ‘oversimplistic’. I’ll say it again: most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their role in the consumer cycle. I hardly think that this video is a thoughtless rant against industry — it merely is pointing out that we can’t sustain our current materials flow model, especially in light of a growing population and demand.

    It is also time to turn off the Glenn Beck fellas. The dude may have entertainment value, but he isn’t exactly known for being a source of factual, reputable information.

  13. Some key quotes that made me crazy: “Government’s job is to look out for us; to take care of us. That’s their job.” If she means, to protect the freedoms we are endowed with by “the creator”, that wouldn’t be so bad. But that is not what she means, me thinks. “Extraction is a fancy word for natural resource exploitation, which is a fancy word for trashing the planet.” Again, there is no balance. Do we use too much stuff? Absolutely. But this creates a blanket indictment of all things produced. I find this kind of work just as nauseating as Glenn Beck.

  14. vv, or may I say Sergeant Schultz? don’t you remember me? I am Colonel Klink.
    Of course Schultz you woudn’t remember me; you always heard notzing, seen notzing, and knew notzing.
    Pst, don’t tell anybody.

  15. This is the biggest piece of Bovine Feces I have ever seen/heard. In the first 3:30 this lefty nut job makes at least five factual errors: 1) She claims it’s the “job” of government “to take care of us.” No, it’s the job of government to protect our God-given rights so we can take care of ourselves. 2) Corporations are inherently bad. No, corporations are made up of people who own the corporations which provide us with all the stuff (and services) she’s complaining about. 3) Extraction means “trashing the planet.” No, it doesn’t, but she’s doing a good job of trashing the truth. 4) One-third of the planet’s resources have been used up (disappeared) in the past three decades. Where did she come up with this tripe? Where’s the documentation? Besides, many of our resources are renewable–like plantlife; which leads to 5) Less than 4% of the United States’ forests are left. This is the easiest piece of nonsense to disprove. For every tree cut down, at least two replacements are planted. My two teenage sons saw this and they laughed through the whole thing. But if you really want a more truthful and scholarly treatise on “Stuff” than this garbage (pun intended), I suggest you view George Carlin’s “Stuff” on YouTube.

  16. Man. I’m so sick of people commenting about all of these God-given rights. Can someone please show me where God gave me the right or the priviledge to only take care of myself and not my neighbor? I don’t see it on the Ten Commandments anywhere. If it is in the small print on one of those tablets, point it out already. Because I have a bone to pick with my pastor who seems to think it’s sorta Christ-like to look after my neighbor and take care of my natural resources.

    We can point out time and time again how we’re a nation founded on Christian values and that’s all fine and good for the general masses until someone holds you to the idea that we can be a nation that takes care of one another and then selective morality kicks in and the “value voter” folks abandon the “do unto others as you’d have done unto you” Sunday school principal of life and declare “Capitolism! Free markets! Everyone for themselves!”

    For those of you who continue to spew on and on about your “God-given rights of indulgence”, don’t forget: Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins.

  17. Donna,

    Yes we should care for one another; but please don’t allow an overreaching government to do it; we certainly don’t need a nanny state taking care of us.

    You misinterpret what it means to be nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles if you think the government should be given that much power over our lives.

  18. Donna, Donna, Donna, please don’t confuse your responsibilites as a Christian with the responsibilities (and power) of government. You have the right to spend as much of your money, time, talents, etc. to help anyone you want. Government is limited (please re-read the US Constitution) in what it can (should) do. It has no right to take money from me (at the point of a gun) and give it to someone else, just because that person is short on his rent money that month. But I can go across the street and give my neighbor any amount of money or help that I please. And if the government would take less from me in taxes (in the name of taking care of the poor), I would have more resources to help more people–of my own free will and choice.

  19. Ron B,

    Plus once the government funnels everything through innumerable layers of bureaucracy, there winds up being much LESS to distribute.

  20. Ron B: Give me one example of the government taking your money away at the point of a gun to pay someone’s rent. One example, please.

    I’ve read and like to reread the Constitution often. I’ve the pocket-sized version. Think everyone should have one. It’s perfect.

    GOP Boomer Gal: I bring up the principals of our nation’s founding because the wail of “God-given right” seems to be continually echoed and interjected into almost every argument as if that superscedes ANY role/responsiblity of any government. Or individual.

    I get limited government. But why rail against everything? Anything and everything related to government seems to be bad. I challenge you to name at least one thing GOOD about our government — that isn’t gun-related — that you support and/or approve of.

    Believe it or not, I agree that government should be limited but it should not be so castrated as to put my neighbor and our combined natural resources in danger for the profit of corporations and greed. We can, through thoughtful, principaled practices, ensure that we preserve our resources for future generations while also allowing free markets to profit. But there must be a law to the land that reinforces those principals, that is blind to profit margins and stock options, and mandates shared and equitable responsibility for all.

  21. Donna, if you don’t pay your taxes you can get arrested. Taxes are taken by force–it’s not a donation to government. I assure you the folks coming to arrest you have guns.

    If you don’t get the “God-given-right” stuff–please, please read the history of our founding documents which include the following: “Nature’s God entitle them,” “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

    And please spare us the “corporate greed” garbage.

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