Monday, March 03, 2008


I've been slogging through the book Affluenza for the last few days.

I want to start off by saying that a lot of what the book has to say so far is good. I'm about half-way through but I'm starting to get frustrated with the on-going "preaching" about the problems of society. I think by page 50 I got the idea. I'm now ready for the "cure" or at least "treatment" for this disease.

I'm also having a hard time with a few of the arguments. One thing that is really bothering me is the idea of the exploitation of the poor unskilled laborers of the world. America's fixation with acquiring things isn't healthy and it's done at the expense of those poor people working for low wages. But if we were to fix our problems with consumption wouldn't these poor people be without any income and thus worse off? If we stop buying they stop working, how is this going to solve their problems? Can you complain about the country's love of buying things in one breath and then complain about the low wages of the people making these products? Something just doesn't seem right about the argument.

I'm also wondering about the lack of explanation about how much is too much. My definition of waste is probably different than most others. We are extremely frugal when it comes to electric and water usage so I think most people waste a tremendous amount. But even my electric usage could be considered a problem by someone who doesn't use any. Is it too much to own a second home, or boat, or ATVs, or is it just too much to want a nice first home? Is it just the desire to acquire more no matter what we have?

I guess I'm just wondering how far the author is advocating we go to treat the "disease" he claims we have. The farther I read the more it seems that any possessions are too much but maybe I'm missing the point.


Susan said...

I think the problem lies in the outward appearance of two very different beliefs.

There's the belief of Christians that one is content with the gifts God gives. There is the desire to use one's gifts to serve the neighbor and help others. This can outwardly look like less "consumer-ness" than most Americans exhibit, but it wouldn't necessarily have to look like that.

Then there's the anti-capitalism viewpoint that wealth is bad, that humans are exploiting the planet and ruining the environment for the pure animals, and that (like you said) ANY use of anything is a waste. And if we feel guilty about it, and talk about how bad it is, and pay our carbon-credit indulgences, then we can alleviate our guilt.

When you drive through a subdivision of mansions or look at the cars going down the highway, you can't tell who's who ... because sometimes those two groups outwardly look a lot alike. But one is wrong and one is right.

Affluenza Project said...

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