Enough’s Enough: Buying More Stuff Isn’t Always the Answer to Happiness
Anthony James , 5 Jan 17
       

Greg Foyster, Author provided

The average German household contains 10,000 items. That’s according to a study cited by Frank Trentmann in his sweeping history of consumption, Empire of Things. We’re “bursting”, he says, with the amount of stuff that we have - while all of this consumption is steeping us in debt and dangerously depleting the planet’s resources and systems.

So after Christmas, and the Boxing Day sales, it seems like a good time to ask: what is the purpose of all this consumption?

The consumption cake

If consumption is about facilitating quality of life, then quantities of money, materials, energy and so on are merely ingredients. They’re not the end product.

If I was baking a cake, would it make sense to use as many ingredients as possible? Of course not.

Yet “more is better” remains the narrative of modern society, and therefore of the economic system we use to make it happen. This makes sense while there is a sustainable correlation between quality of life and material resources consumed.

But this correlation is weakening. There is growing evidence that we are on a trajectory of diminishing returns on quality of life. A growing spate of titles such as Affluenza, Stuffocation and How Much is Enough? speak to the phenomenon.

Yet in the midst of unprecedented wealth, and unprecedented threats (from climate change and mass extinction, to inequality and social fragmentation), is the opportunity to move on to better things – to move beyond the consumer machine, and gear the future economy towards what we are really after in life.

So what are we baking? And what are the optimal amounts of ingredients we need?

Sign in to view full article

       
Organ Transplants and Scarcity, Innovation, and Politics
We all want to live a long time. And in vigorous good health while doing so.
David T. Jones
Mon, 20 Feb 17
Are The Rich More Selfish Than The Rest Of Us?
Social scientists have long known that the rich are not exactly model citizens.
Jan Stoop, James Andreoni, Nikos Nikiforakis
Wed, 12 Apr 17
Searching Deep and Dark: Building A Google for The Less Visible Parts of The Web
In today’s data-rich world, companies, governments and individuals want to analyze anything and everything they can get their hands on ...
Christian Mattmann
Wed, 11 Jan 17
‘Sip’ Info From Your Smartwatch, ‘Whoosh’ It To Your Phone
With their small screens and our bulky fingers, smartwatches aren’t the easiest devices to control. Researchers have invented new ways ...
Jason Maderer
Fri, 3 Feb 17
The Stress of Sitting in Traffic Can Lead to More Crime
Society pays a heavy price for traffic. It leads to lost time, more pollution and increased spending on gasoline.
Louis-Philippe Beland, Daniel Brent
Mon, 13 Feb 17
Join us today!
An Epoch Times Survey
Sports Elements
BUCHERER
Sports Elements
Sports Elements