Sunday, March 14, 2004

Wages of Wealth: All This Progress Is Killing Us, Bite by Bite

The litany:

When Americans have more than enough money to buy food, they buy more food.
When they have more than enough money to buy cars they buy SUVs.
When they earn enough to live comfortably they work longer hours.
And, one might add, even when they're healthy enough they obsess about their bodies, frequent chiropractors and acupuncturists, and dose themselves with herbal teas to get even healthier.

The problem isn't American affluence but American puritanism which obscures the obvious truism that when the necessities are taken care of you can stop thinking about them and enjoy yourself. When you have enough food to live, you can stop thinking about food; when you earn enough to live comfortably you can buy leisure.

The whole purpose of affluence is liberation from those miserable necessities: eating, working, getting from place to place, dealing with the dull business of life, so that you can engage in "liberal pursuits"--literature, the arts, travel, crafts, sports and learning for its own sake.

5 comments:

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