Americans are the trendsetters for the global initiative referred to as consumerism; we introduced the word into the global spotlight and set in motion a unique process of buying, attaining, hoarding, consuming and so on. In reality, if you look back at ancient societies there was a great deal of hoarding and attaining by the Egyptians, Babylonians, and the Romans who used gold the way we use paper towels. The world may envision Americans as the kings of all consumers, and we have proven that to be quite true, as we are filling our homes with High Definition TV’s, iPads, and Play Stations.
Our grandparents saved for a rainy day, although I never quite understood what that meant, and when my Mother reiterates the same exact phrase its almost empty rhetoric to my nieces and nephews as they return a blank stare as if to say what? Although as the generations have changed so have our tendencies, how we think has evolved, our methodology of living has changed and what living really means has been redefined, people are no longer accepting what some would refer to as a menial existence. Let me use my Mother as an example once again, when we were children the thought of a visit to Mc Donald’s was just that, a thought – an idol thought – because it was just not acceptable. We never visited Mc Donald’s with Mom. Although our Aunt, her younger sister could be easily persuaded to visit on occasion when she was babysitting. Mom had a budget that she maintained, she didn’t waste money on junk, and she would gladly make hamburgers for dinner if that is what we wanted. Today Mom has gone consumeristic, she even has NETFLIX, she will order Dominos for the grandchildren, the family room now is adorned with a 50’ HDTV, she now buys lattes at Starbucks at $5 dollars a cup, and she even has a cell phone. I have become increasingly worried about her behavior, and it has nothing to do with the fact that she is spending my future inheritance. Somewhere along the way she has decided that the rainy day isn’t coming, and she’s buying, if she likes it or wants it she’s taking it home!
When you evaluate who you are today, are you different from the person that you were ten years ago? If you’ve changed, why have you changed? There are many reasons why we change and many are socioeconomic evolution related, We have more today, consumers in general, have more, or they have the ability to have more, and in essence, you want more. You want those precious possessions and you have to have them all, the larger modern home, three bathrooms, the BMW, the electro-gadgets, and above all the stuff.
George Carlin, the late comedian extraordinaire had a comedy bit focused on the stuff, my stuff, and your stuff. Carlin said that Americans just want stuff, they got to have stuff, and they need places to put their stuff, he noted that people at some point have to buy bigger houses because they need more room to put all their stuff. Now as difficult as it may be to ascertain George Carlin was not an economist but a conversationalist? I believe that Carlin was dead on target when he discussed our obsession with stuff, and what he witnessed during his lifetime, a growing busting loose Americana with a materialistic populous. What’s more fitting than a comedian telling America that they are way over the top, they buy too much for no reason, other than the desire to have more stuff.