Friday, March 9, 2012

The Roots of Our Consumerism


 "Homo Consumens is the man whose main goal is not primarily to own things, but to consume more and more, and thus to compensate for his inner vacuity, passivity, loneliness and anxiety….He mistakes thrill and excitement for joy and happiness and material comfort for aliveness; satisfied greed becomes the meaning of life, striving for it a new religion. The freedom to consume becomes the essence of human freedom."

Erich Fromm. “The Application of Humanist Psychoanalysis to Marx's Theory" in Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium. New York: Doubleday, 1965.



I like to think that I’m totally immune to the lure of consumerism.  After all, I’ve spent the past 15 years lecturing students on the importance of voluntary simplicity both as a means to prevent further environmental degradation to our planet, but also as a way to find greater happiness in life.
That latter benefit of reducing consumption is often lost on 20-something-year-olds who have grown up fervently believing that meaning and happiness in life are connected to the ability to buy whatever one wants, whenever one wants, whether one has the funds to do so or not.  I’ve found that, even when I show these students hard data from the field of human psychology clearly demonstrating that the “need to always have more” is linked to  personal unhappiness and that the happiest people on the planet are actually those who are the most immune to the lure of consumption, they simply don’t buy it (no pun intended). 

But at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am setting a positive example for my students, right?  After all, I’m living in a house that is much smaller than I could afford, I drive a 17 year old car (by choice), rarely eat out in restaurants, and generally wear clothes till they fall apart (literally!).  On the surface of things, I am the poster boy for the voluntary simplicity movement.

And yet, deep in the marrow of my being, I am as easily seduced by the lure of American consumerism as the most fashion-conscious student in my environmental ethics class.    Just recently, for example, I found myself wanting to replace the perfectly adequate cell-phone that I had been using for about four years with a smart new Iphone.  The new phone cost hundreds of dollars more than the old phone did and that new plan that I had to take out to get it was also more expensive, but at least I could now say that I had the smartest, most sophisticated, most stylish cell phone on the market.  And I was ever so happy—that is, until I saw a colleague of mine with the new Iphone 4s with even cooler features than the model I had.  And then I found myself becoming envious and thinking that my own Iphone just didn’t seem quite as special any more.

Then there’s the issue of my car.  I am adamant about the fact that I will not buy a new car until the one I have—a 1995 Toyota Corolla—starts to become unreliable or cost more to maintain than it is worth.  17 years later, I still have the same car, and it is still chugging along perfectly fine.  There are absolutely no mechanical issues with the car, but it certainly doesn’t provide as smooth and quiet a ride as a new car would, and lately, the paint on the roof of the car has begun to wear off, making the car look rather shabby.  In fact, I’ve been told that I have the ugliest car on campus, and that’s probably true:  I doubt that even the most cash-strapped freshman would ever be caught dead driving a car as aesthetically challenged as mine. 

Now, when someone asks me about my car, I tell them proudly that I’ll be damned if I ever get suckered into buying a new car before I absolutely need one.  But, in fact, I’m starting to feel just a little self-conscious about being seen driving a car like mine or parking it at the Mall amidst all the shiny new SUVs that people on Long Island tend to own.  And this year, I’ve even begun fantasizing about getting a new car—not anything excessive mind you, but something small, cute, and fun like a Honda Fit.  Every time I see someone driving one of these cars, I almost automatically think to myself:  “Why should they get to drive a nice new car, while I am forced to drive this piece of crap!  “After all,” I reason to myself, “I am a college professor and do have a reputation to maintain.”
The Ugliest Car on Campus
So you see, although I would like to believe that I am impervious to the insatiable desire for more than I need, this really isn’t the case.  I am as much a part of the species homo consumens as anyone.  The only difference is that I’ve read enough to have some ideas about what the root causes of the consumeristic desires that drive our society might be.   I think that these causes are threefold:

1)      Contemporary Americans have come to identify who they are as human beings with what they own.  The more trendy things I own, then, the more worthy I am as a human being.  Conversely, if I live in a modest house, don’t wear the latest clothes, and don’t drive a nice car, then something is wrong with ME as a human being.   In 21st century America we are judged, not by the “content of our characters,” but by the stuff we possess.

2)      We have been convinced by modern advertising that we should have as much as our neighbors do.   In the past, however, our neighbors could only afford to buy things if they saved for them.  But the advent of the credit industry means that ordinary people can buy things they don’t have the actually money for.  We don’t know, for example, that our neighbors really can’t afford to live in the McMansion that they recently built or drive their new Lexus, but we think they can, and that makes us feel inferior.  So we too are compelled to take out loans and live well beyond our means, just to “keep up with the Jonses.”  

3)      In the absence of authentic religious belief, Americans have made a religion out of consumption.  If we really believed in God and were convinced that this life is not all that there is, having so much stuff wouldn’t mean quite as much to us.  After all, how could owning even the most sophisticated things in the world—fancy jewelry, designer clothes, etc.—ever compare with what we have to look forward to in the next life?  Objectively, then, if Americans really believe in anything, it is that salvation comes from buying power—the ability to satisfy our insatiable desires with more and more stuff.  God is dead, but at least we have Walmart—or Neiman Marcus, if you prefer—to  provide us with ultimate meaning in life.

These are just a few thoughts that came to me as I reflected on the roots of our consumerism in the United States.  I’d love to hear what you think about this.  Is the problem of consumerism really as bad as I think it is (do you personally fall victim to it?)?  And what do you think that the ultimate root of this need to always acquire more and more is?   

This article originally appeared on EcoBlog

41 comments:

  1. What socialists like you fail to understand is that consumption is what makes America great. Our economy is 70% consumption-based. This means that, if students like yours took your misguided advice, they would drive the American economy into total collapse.

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to have the good things of life (comfortable house, car, boat, fancy clothes and jewelry) and working hard to get them. Indeed, it is the desire for luxuries that inspires people to be industrious. Why do you think that people work? Because they enjoy it? Definitely not! They work because they want to enough money to live the good life. Everyone wants to have a life like Donald Trump and what our American system of capitalism provides is the means for people to do just that...if they decide to work hard enough for it, that is.

    Your constant bashing of what is so wonderful about the United States is very troubling to me. Instead of teaching your students to opt out of the capitalist system, you should be teaching them how to get ahead in it. Instead of trying to make them suspicious of wealth, you should be teaching them how to maximize theirs.

    That's the solution to our current economic problems, not living like some kind of animal in a dirty little rat hole. Now go and buy a new car!

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    1. Sir Lance, all i have to do is read your first paragraph and tell you that you are completly false. You say our economy is 70%consumption-based and that if we follow Dr.Mike's misguided adivce we will drive the American economy into a total collapse. HAHA. Dr.Mike has great adivce first off. Secondly, last time I checked, this great consumption-based American economy can not collapse any further. Our economy statisticaly is worse than the great depression's was. So until you present facts that make sense, I will not read any further.

      Chris L

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    2. First-A person should not simply work because they "need the money." You should find a job that you enjoy doing and that makes you happy. (instead of buying material items that you think "makes you happy")

      Second-Why do I need to buy a new car if it gets me from point A to point B? I'm not trying to impress anyone. And if someone is going to judge me based on the kind of car I drive, that truly shows the type of person they are- Shallow.

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    3. I don't see how you can believe that people work because they want "the good life". That may be in your case which then I'll reply you should probably quit your job and find a job that makes you happy because material things are not what is going to make you happy in life. Who says that in order to live "the good life" you have do have an abundance of material items? Just because someone doesn't indulge in a new car or material items they aren't having a good life? That is completely false seeing that I know many people some that are wealthy and indulge in many material items and they tend to be more unhappy then the people that are ok with the simple things and God forbid they drive an old car or don't buy material items still are very happy people.
      Meghan C

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    4. Lance, to be honest, I find your comments to be quite ignorant in regards to the reality of American consumerism. We are currently living in an economic system, sustained by corporate greed might I add, in which that greed has trickled down into most aspects of U.S. society, unconsciously defining not only our values, but the lifestyles we "choose" to live. Yes, a capitalist government does create opportunities to make money - for example, Alex Rodriguez can hit a ball pretty damn far and because we pay to see him do so by attending a game or subscribing to cable TV packages (by the way, who owns the ticket company and cable networks?), he has "fairly" earned that money - but are these opportunities available to every individual? I must argue "no".

      Let's start from the beginning: In Corporate America, politicians and other governed officials' decisions are influenced by money. Banks and other giant business conglomerates lobby (read: bribe) politicians so that decisions are made in order to favor said banks/businesses. Now, institutions such as the media, schools and even religious organizations also play into this game we call capitalism because guess what? They're all owned by the people/businesses/politicians I mentioned above. Ok, so what am I getting at? America is a giant playground in which the bullies are playing games that favor themselves (with the taxes/interest rates on loans that we pay on hard earned money etc.) and we're not even on warming up in the bullpen. Democracy? Hardly...

      American culture is designed by the illusion that happiness can be bought because the more we buy, the more we the big wigs that run this show are fed, pampered and living the "good life".

      So before you make blind statements about how our economy would crash based on the lack of spending, open your eyes to the fact that it has crashed, based on over-spending...here's a start:

      George Carlin (simple): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

      Inside Job - doc on stock market crash (more detailed): http://www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/

      Your claims about living in rat holes is rather extreme, as I don't think that was the point Dr. Mike is making. I think he was making more of a comment on what our values are, and how we let others define them for us. Our needs as human beings keep changing over time...hm, why? Because we're chasing something that does not exist: happiness that can be bought. Why do we need bigger and better, always? It's the driving force of our nation, but we seem to be worse off than ever in a lot of ways. 25 years ago, the iPhone didn't exist...were people not happy? I'm not so sure that the credentials for what it means to be happy keep on changing throughout humanity, as much as I'm sure that we're being brainwashed to think that we can buy happiness, meanwhile we're really just buying Donald Trump's 3rd boat for his 5th beach house. It's important to question where and how we get our values. My advice, don't believe everything you hear and try to see the bigger picture in terms of our existence and the foot mark we're leaving behind for future generations...

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  2. I think consumerism is obviously needed for an economy to survive, but I think we as Americans take it too the extreme. We are constantly living outside our means (evident by the large amount of credit card debt that many have).

    Yes, I personally fall victim to it sometimes. I held out as long as I can to get the iPhone, personally being the last person in my household to get one (my 11 year old brother had even beat me to it). But in other aspects I can stand my ground. I drive a nice 2005 Jetta, bought used, and although its quickly approaching its 10 year mark, I plan to drive this car till the wheels fall off. There is simply to reason to buy a new one. It gets me from point A to point B and still looks nice.

    The ultimate root I think for this problem is that as Americans we are always trying to one-up each other. Like you stated, we are judge based on what we have. Nobody wants to come off as "poor", so they buy expensive things to keep up this "image" they are trying to portray.

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  3. I would say I am a victim of consumerism. I think if you work hard to get a college degree and then go on to get a well paying job, you should be able to treat yourself to things that you want rather then need. I don't really see anything wrong with wanting to have nice things, as long as you can afford them.

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    1. I would have to agree with what you said, Ashley. As long as you do have a job that gives you an excellent salary, then you can buy whatever you want as long as you really want it. If I was in the shoes of that type of person, I would only buy the things that I want if the item is worth a decent amount of money.

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  4. In todays society, consumerisim is king. The three points you made are very true. We are judged by what we own, not by the people we are. The media unfortunatly conviences us that we need the newest and the best new items, even though they are probably the same as the new shit they made last week. Consumption has become the main goal of Americans. We buy and tell ourselves we need material items we can not afford instead of focusing on what the natural person really NEEDS. I feel my self every day battling the new technology that others possess or that is shown on the television. But I choose to live simply, maybe because of the way my parents have raised me, or maybe because i don't have the sufficent funds to buy uneccesary items. I still have a tube tv, my cell phone is a flip phone not a touch screen, and my car is the ugliest worse on campus. It actually turns off at every red light if the heat is not running. I am still livly happily though. But, if i do hit lotto, I will have all the unnecessary items that media throws at me. What can i say, its the american in me.

    Chris L

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    1. Ok, maybe your car is uglier than mine, but I still don't think that you have what it takes to compete with me in terms of simple living!

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    2. I agree. Media is the ruler and us Americans are just easily manipulated. Sometimes its a trade off you get some crappy things and save up for some items that you can cave in for. I do also think that people are initially judges on what they have and you can hear it through the halls of this school all the time. Basically were all brainwashed but its important that we rationalize and prioritize our spending sometimes.

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    3. I think that people respect us for not being ashamed of our old, falling apart cars. Professor, I do not think you should feel embaressed or worry about your "reputation". I think it is very respectable that you are not so materialistic and that you probably spend your money on things that are worthwhile, like your children.

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  5. I think we all grew up with the notion of wanting things and knowing what we wanted at an early age. The media knows how to target specific groups to get us to want their product. Our generation has grew farther from religion that I think the simple way of life has not been implemented in our upbringing. Everyone feels the need to keep up with expectations. Here on Long Island we are stereotyped to live a certain way. In a way, we live the way we do by many kinds of influences. Only a class like this would make us aware of how driven we are to get what we want.

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    1. I agree, I definately think that growing up on long island can influence you on what to buy. You can even see when you pass by neighborhoods that people renovate their house and the next thing you know their neighbors are also trying to make their house bigger too.

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  6. I agree. Consumerism really is as big as a problem as we think it is. Unfortunately the even bigger problem could be that is almost impossible to avoid the consumerism lifestyle. Sometimes you may be spending more effort trying to avoid this lifestlye than it is to cave in. It is a definitely a culture that this generation has been born into.

    I don't think that I cave into consumerism as bad as most. Although I am not immune and I do have my guilty pleasures I do sometimes use rational. It isn't to hard to shop sale instead of designer. I think coming from a family that was not drowning in money I learned where to cut the costs and make it. I scored a 16 on that test we took which was not too bad. On the other hand I think that at some point you have to cave into consumerism. For instance, if you are looking for a job in the job market, they want you well dressed and "presentable". However, presentable is in the eye of the beholder, who is most likely a consumer themseleves. Its pretty much unavoidable.

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  7. Have I fallen victim to consumerism? (sigh) Yes. I have found ways around spending tons of money and still consuming nice things. I order things off of e-bay and amazon for discounted prices, and shop at discount stores like Marshalls. I was thinking about it the other day, though, and who am I trying to fool? Although I may not be spending a fortune on the designer things I own, I'm still trying to keep up with "Jone's". On the other hand, I own and drive an older 2002 car. I have had the joy of not having to take a couple hundred out of my paycheck every month for a car payment. I also have a hand me down smart phone that I got for "Free ninety nine". But at the end of the day, I would still say, yes. Clearly, I have fallen to consumerism. No matter what the price, I still find myself wanting the "best" things. And for what reason? Our materialistic wants are so superficial. Society has gotten the best of me.

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  8. I think consumption is important for our society. If everyone bought new cars every 20 years or so, barely bought new clothes and avoided luxuries than a large percentage of american businesses will not be able to survive. People will not want to invest in these businesses and would rather put their money into other countries where consumption is higher. For the people that use their extra money on these luxeries, this is good and healthy. For the people that buy these luxeries on credit, using money they do not even have and have no plans of acquiring in the future, there is a problem.

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  9. I feel that if you work hard and can afford to then you should be able to buy luxurious things. I think the only problem is when people buy things that they can not afford and go into debt because of their need to be the first person with all the newest items. I would consider myself a victim of consumerism but I do not buy things that I know I can not afford so I do not see a problem with it.

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  10. I would definitely say that I am a victim to consumerism. I get my greatest pleasure out of shopping and buying new things even when I dont need them. I guess I do see in some ways how this could be a serious problem. People spending more than they have, or need, is certainly going to lead to problems. However, I do not think that there is anything wrong with the desire to possess more things. If a person works hard, and has the money to do so, why should we not be able to do what we want with our money. Also, a good amount of Americans are being employed because of the amount of money being spend by consumers.

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    1. Gina, you don't know what you are taking about! Nothing wrong with the desire to possess more things? How about what happens to these things after we get bored with them? They get chucked and end up in landfills, or they wind up polluting the land and ocean. Believe it or not, there are consequences to being a flagrant consumer!

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  11. I do agree that consumption is a great problem in America. Many Americans are excessively buying when they may not be able to afford it in the first place. If they couldn't afford what they are buying, they are just placing themselves even further into debt. Also, why are we excessively buying when we already have a house or a car, but we feel the need to get a bigger house or a more expensive car. In the past, people would just buy so that we would provide for themselves, but now we buy so that we can make sure we are keeping up with "what is in."

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    1. I agree people feel the need to keep up with whats new. I'm guilty of wanting new things just for the fact that its newer than what I have. I believe most of Americans are in debt just to live excessively. However, credit cards and bank loans enable people to live this way. Society makes us feel the need to get rid of whatever have to continuously upgrade.

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  12. Yes, I think I personally fall as a victim of consumerism because sometimes I do feel the need to buy things that are considered "nice". I'll admit I've paid probably too much money on some sorts of clothing, for example Juicy Couture. I know I can get a valore sweatsuit for much less, but I have bought into the name. However, I have been watching more what I've been spending because I just can't afford such expensive things. I like the name brand stuff a lot of people do but there are stores to get those things in for much less.
    I agree with Lance when he says there is nothing wrong with wanting to have nice things. I absolutely think that people who work hard for their money should be able to treat themselves. Do I think people should splurge all the time on shopping? No not really, people should learn to save their money. But, I think it's ok to spend.

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  13. i completely agree with everything that is said. today we have all become so crazy with having to have the new and latest things to keep up with everyone else. its become an epidemic. but its pretty insane that the majority of these people with the fancy new things buy them with money they dont even have and then people wonder why so many americans are in debt these days. we clearly dont have our priorities straight. i mean does it really matter what kind of clothes we wear or car we drive or phone we phone? we should just be thankful to even say that we have those things to begin with. i mean there are millions of people in other countries that cannot even say that. we definitely take many things for granted.

    Lauren M.

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  14. In the American society which we live in, I think it is safe to say that almost everyone has fallen into the trap of consumerism at least once. Young children and adults are trapped into buying certain things because of what surrounds us (ie. television commercials, magazine ads, radio, etc). At the end of the day, it is the parents' job to teach their child it is not important to be so focused on what they "want", but to stay alert on what they "need". Ive learned to not be so focused on the name brands, but just purchase the items when I absolutely need it. Money is definitely dangerous because it deserves no means to an end in society.

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  15. Yes, I believe that consumerism is as bad as you think it is. Today, especially where we live, everything is concentrated on material items. It is all about having the newest cars, phones, clothes, shoes, and bags. Not many pay attention to the fact that if its not broken and still fits it is still absolutely usable. I think where we live and what is shown by celebrities, magazines, and TV affects why consumerism has gotten so out of hand. Sometimes I see myself get trapped into the idea that I "need" the new bag or new clothes. Sometimes I do indulge in material items that are not necessary but other times I think to myself, "Do I really NEED this? and usually the answer is no. I believe like I said before, the root of this problem is the area in which we live. Our society is driven towards buying items, whether we need them or not.
    Meghan C

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  16. Consumerism is effecting all Americans whether they are concious of it or not. My mother for example, is an immagrant to this country who believes that the American dream is to live in a nice house, drive a nice car whether you have to take out ridicioulous amounts of loans or credit. She is the reason why im in over my head with bills, the day i turned 18 (when you are eligible to start your credit) she conviced me that opening credit cards to our favorite stores, taking out loans (whatever the interest is, because she dosent even understand it) and by the age of 20 getting a car lease under my name. Even if i were to try and explain how evil is consumerism she would just brush me off and say there is nothing wrong with borrowing money and paying it back.

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    1. joanna likes this (thumbs up)

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  17. I would have to agree with you completely, consumerism is definitely a serious issue. although i would like to think that i am not a victim of consumerism i think i am definitely influenced by it. now a days people are not driven by improving their happiness or quality of life by being healthier or establishing meaningful relationships, but by purchasing materialistic things. I feel like its almost trying to prove our success or happiness by the cars we drive or the clothes we wear. My parents have always lived very simplistically and have always emphasized the lack of importance on materialistic items. that being said, although i believe i carry a lot of their values i also do feel some sort of pressure to keep up with my friends and classmates.
    JoannaBurns

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  18. I resist buying much myself. We recently bought a new full size van, but there were real needs that only a full size van could satisfy. Previously, I owned old full size station wagons, and when the last one (a 1988) needed $9,000. in repairs to put it back together, we took the plunge. We saved a fortune with the financing, have no repairs for at least three years, and the thing will last for twenty years. So, it made sense, both financially, and from a "needs" perspective. So, I tend to agree with my colleague and friend, Dr. Mike R. I would like to encourage people to think about these issues in a different direction, however. I am not a very religious person, although I must "confess" that I have a GREAT deal of respect for the core values and ethical codes of the world's "great religions." I really believe that rampant materialism is diametrically opposed to those values. In fact, I believe that, in twenty first century American society, a NEW "diety" has emerged to whioh the corporations, many of their lackeys, and many consumers "pledge allegience." That "false god" has its own symbol: $
    You can judge a society by its physical structures, among other cultural artifacts. Throughout much of modern human history, most societies that had cities had one type of building that typically dwarfed all others: the "house of worship." The church, temple, mosque, or synagogue was the tallest building. In America, the tallest structures in virtually every city today is the corporate office tower. I call them "the towers of power," and their height speaks volumes.
    What do YOU think about all of these brain droppings?

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  19. With advertising and the pressures of others to buy the hot ticket item it is very easy for a person to be sucked into spending tons of money on something that is unnecessary. We see our friends, family members, and colleagues all with Iphones and ugg boots and we convince ourselves that its something we need to have in order to survive in society. This is simply not true. It is possible for the a person to buy seven dollar shoes from payless and a fifteen dollar go phone and still manage to breathe. If everyone spent their own money wisely than you will be able to have decent shoes, a working phone and even some wholesome food to bring home. Its simply a matter of being wise when spending your hard earned money.
    Megan B.

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  20. Consumerism is a big problem and many do not realize it. People try to buy the most expensive things and some of the new technology makes us lazy. I'm a person that has a iPhone and loves it also and it saves me a lot of time. I could cash my check to my account, pay my bills with out going to the places and get to my emails quickly. Everyone want to have something and i believe everyone has little of consumerism in themselves. We all live in a society where consumerism where material is important to them when it is really not.

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  21. I think your feelings of desire and restraint are very funny, I find myself battling similar issues except I give in to consumerism more than you. I do agree with you on many points except you have more restraint than I do. I do like to acquire new things, I like the feeling of buying something new. I do however more recently due to economic times think to myself is this a need or a want? I also feel if I do that enough times when something comes around that is a want I kind of feel that it is owed to me since I have been so good. Crazy right? Everything in life should be done in moderation. I try to teach my family the need and want belief and that sometimes they have to hold out for a special occasion in order to buy or receive something new, or they have to use their own money that they might have been given or earned and for the most part it works. I don't want them to grow up spoiled whiny and ungrateful. If children are given everything I think that creates that desire to want more.

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  22. tHE AUTHOR OF THE PREVIOUS COMMENTMarch 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    typo!

    strcutures ARE

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  23. I think consumerism can be a big problem,but if you try to control your little disire not to get everything you want you can be ok.I do believe in some quality so I have to pay atention sometimes. I promisse myself I would never buy a new car.I always look for good things that on sale. I try to put my needs first.

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  24. Yes I do believe that consumerism is a very big problem in the United States because Americans "over do it" to the point where they in fact don't have the actual money to buy whatever they "supposedly" have. Yes, I will admit that I am a victim to this at times. The ultimate root of the problem is that Americans try to get the newest and latest trends and be up to date with fashion because it is their way of fitting in with society. They believe that it is a necessity when in fact it is a luxury to possess so much.

    Kevin G

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  25. I agree, I think that consumerism is a major problem. I think this because by people falling victim to it they typically spend more then their means. If people went out and bought the things they needed more then the things they just wanted they might have money. Then instead of squandering it all and become depressed by not having money go out then and buy more stuff to make them happy when in reality they are just making themselves more unhappy in the long run.
    Personally I don't consider myself a victim of consumerism. I typically only buy what I need. I even share a car with my father to get me to and from school since I commute. I am happy with the 1995 Ford Thunderbird, it does what is supposed to do get me from point A to B. I don't need a new or flashy car to get me from point A to point B. Sure the inside pretty bad looking but I don't mind it that much I comprimise with the seat not moving all the time and being ripped up. But you know what its not bad. People need to be happy about the little things in life and stop hiding behind pointless spending for false happiness.

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  26. I would have to agree that consumerism can be a problem today. The quote "need to always have more" can relate to people that are unhappy with their life. Such as people who are depressed. The person can go on a shopping spree so they can get rid of their sad feelings. I guess also that if people are happy with their life and have a lot of money, then they would probably be smart enough to save it and not deal with any problems.

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  27. I don't really fall into most "traps" or consumerism. As a young teenager, I DESPERATELY wanted only name brand clothes, but couldn't have them since my family couldn't afford it. I could never fit in with the "popular" girls because I didn't wear "cool" clothes, and now I am so thankful for that. I look back, and can't figure out why brand names ever mattered to me. I used to be so embarrassed of the stores my clothes came from, now I proudly tell people the jacket they just complimented me on cost 14 dollars at Kohls.

    However, I do allow myself consumer indulgences from time to time, and I often say that if I were a celebrity, I would live the exact same lifestyle, but wish an extensive, expensive shoe collection!

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  28. Unfortunaltely I believe that almost everyone now a days fall into the trap of consumerism. Everyone is always wanting more, something newer, something "better" meanwhile what they have is proabably still in perfect condition but since we want the newer thing, we believe that it is garbage.
    I agree with that it is a very big problem in the United States today and to be honest its hard for me to even think of a way that it could be solved, it became so much of an issue to always wanting more

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