Quick Notes on Affluenza and Materialism

Several good articles covering affluenza and materialism.

To cure affluenza, we have to be satisfied with the stuff we already own – Richard Denniss

Came across this article via “Becoming Minimalist” and their weekend reads newsletter. Something about reading Mr. Denniss’ article that made me think we can make progress towards curing our societal affluenza and materialism. Certainly, I think my own household is working on that goal. As Richard Denniss points out, however, just because our mass consumption has only come on in the last few decades does not mean solving it will be easy.

If having more no longer satisfies us, perhaps we’ve reached ‘peak stuff’ – Will Hutton

An older article, but worth the read, especially within the context of our current conversations surrounding the American GOP tax bill. The question I would frame for the GOP is “Does this tax bill help make people happy?” Or taking this thought a step further, “Does this tax bill help make more people happy than the status quo or alternative tax bills?”

When western societies were poorer, it was reasonable for economics to focus on how to produce more stuff – that was what societies wanted. Now, the question is Aristotelian: how to live a happy life – or “humanomics”, as Sedlacek calls it. Aristotle was clear: happiness results from deploying our human intelligence to act creatively on nature. To inquire and successfully to quest for understanding is the root of happiness.

Affluenza: The Psychology of Wealth – Adrian Furnham

The other two articles got me interested in learning more, so Google became my friend and I found this synopsis of two books on Affluenza: “Affluenza” by Oliver James, and “The Golden Ghetto” by Jessie O’Neill. Not so much providing any new insight, the synopsis provides background into the creation and evolution of the term “affluenza,” along with some of the political and psychological underpinnings of the term.