I read in the New York Times that people in the States (Land Of The Free, subject to terms and conditions and having money) are having to think twice about knocking down the old house and building a brand new one when they move, and of students brewing their own coffee rather than buying a moccachino in the cafe, or using library books instead of buying them. Good! Even if it’s only temporary.
To each of us, having more money, more freedom, more choice is a good thing; that is pretty universal. For the majority of the Earth’s population, it is survival, and a never-ending struggle to secure food, clothing and shelter, let alone healthcare and education. In the richer countries, we strive to gain :
a. Sufficient for our needs or
b. Plenty so we don’t have to worry or
c. Loads so we can have anything we want or
d. Even more than the next billionaire.
For many people, having enough is sufficient, but we now know that for certain people there is no limit to greed and that it is infectious. Thus corporate executives constantly compare their earnings to others, and society is sucked in to believing that they have to advertise higher salaries to secure ‘the right quality’ of person. This has contributed to the huge disparity in wealth that exists across the world today, and the earnings gap is socially divisive, unfair and damaging to corporate finances, especially where failure is being rewarded because of gilt-edged pay deals. It contributes to corporate executive arrogance, which can result in the sort of disastrous decisions that led to the banking crisis of 2008.
Prior to then, people in general in the developed nations were becoming better off, and I have been surprised at how quickly we have forgotten the ‘waste not want not’ ethos of the post war mid 20th century. The throw-away society, started in the USA in the late 50s and fostered by Western governments’ pursuit of economic growth as THE measure of success, has resulted in people believing that it is their right to buy anything, go anywhere, waste anything and have everything tailored to their personal desires, particularly if they have money. This generates waste for the sake of it as people manufacture anything at all that will earn some money: just consider the pile of rubbish that a Disney store pedals for example, or the growing dumps in peoples’ lofts and cellars, and this is just the good stuf.
For countries relying on ever-increasing economic growth, it is like a heroin addiction in that the body feels very sick without the drug and ever increasing amounts are needed. Anyone who suggests that the drug is not a good thing is a boring, kill-joy bore and, by the way, the final outcome is fatal.