And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Affluenza, today’s killer disease.

Posted on: January 10, 2010

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• Jan. 8, 2008 – Affluenza, today’s killer disease.

Posted in Commentary

Headlines: Is Selfish Capitalism Driving Us Mad?

By Oliver James       Posted January 3, 2008.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/72496/

I found this article interesting and in the main very true (until the author’s conclusion whereby he makes two and two equal five).

Our English speaking world and especially we in the United States are suffering from what the author calls Affluenza.  Affluenza is the “placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances and fame when you already have enough income to meet your fundamental psychological needs.”  but wanting more and more and more beyond your needs.  This disease has infected every level of society, but only the rich have the power to indulge their greed and thus leaving the rest of society to suffer the effects of Affluenza with no relief of the symptoms.  So mental anguish is the result.

It is the symptoms of Affluenza that I addressed in my blogs on Universal Health Care,  people wanting the government (read that someone else) to pay for a basic need instead of using their own resources, older Americans wanting more and more from the  young workers, and children out of control with their demands and parents who feel compelled to fulfill these demands.  It is killing Western society as we know it.  It is killing the American spirit of self reliance and independence.

Year ago Lew and I sat down and discussed what we felt was more important in our life.  Did we want more money and things?  I made a good income and  Lew had his military retirement and his thriving business.  Or, did we want more us?  “More us” meaning Lew, the kids and I with a comfortable home, adequate and healthy food, nice but not designer clothing without too much pride to shop thrift shops and most of all to have  Mom home when  the others walked in at the end of their day.

After deciding just what was more important to us as a family we had to ask and answer the all important question of , “Just how much security is enough?”.   Would we need a $300,000 RV when we went traveling or would a good mid level $70,000 RV suit our needs?   What kind of home would we need after the children left home?  Would we still need the 4/3 pool home or would a simple 2/2 apartment fill the bill?   Fortunately Lew had gone into the Air Force at 17 and stayed until he was 37 so we had a government pension and our medical coverage for life so we did not have to figure those costs in.  If we had we would have had to have both worked a few more years and been a bit more thrifty.   Finally it came down to “How much is enough in the bank?  The monthly costs of living a comfortable if not lavish life is provided so how much more do you need?  How much more do you want? I believe after all these years and even with  our rather poor  portfolio that we still made the right choice because we chose the US.

There was a time in America and not so long ago when  this was the choice most families made.  Then somehow it all changed.  This author  has aptly defined the malady.  And he has pointed out many of it’s symptoms and  the devastation caused by the symptoms as the disease spreads thru society.  He has even pointed out very well the outward and impersonal causes of the disease.   Read the excerpt below.

“The growth in greedy consumerism over the past 20 years is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of English-speaking nations.”

“What does the damage is the combination of inequality with the widespread relative materialism of Affluenza: placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances and fame when you already have enough income to meet your fundamental psychological needs. Survival materialism is healthy. If you need money for medicine or to buy a house, becoming very concerned about getting them does not make you mentally ill.

But Selfish Capitalism stokes up relative materialism: unrealistic aspirations and the expectation that they can be fulfilled. It does so to stimulate consumerism in order to increase profits and promote short-term economic growth. Indeed, I maintain that high levels of mental illness are essential to Selfish Capitalism, because needy, miserable people make greedy consumers and can be more easily suckered into perfectionist, competitive workaholism.

With over stimulated aspirations and expectations, the entrepreneurial fantasy society fosters the delusion that anyone can be Alan Sugar or Bill Gates, never mind that the actual likelihood of this occurring has diminished since the 1970s. A Briton turning 20 in 1978 was more likely than one doing so in 1990 to achieve upward mobility through education. Nonetheless, in the Big Brother/ It Could Be You society, great swaths of the population believe they can become rich and famous, and that it is highly desirable. This is most damaging of all the ideology that material affluence is the key to fulfillment and open to anyone willing to work hard enough. If you don’t succeed, there is only one person to blame  never mind that it couldn’t be clearer that it’s the system’s fault, not yours.”

I can agree with everything above but the last  sentence which I have marked in red.    With this sentence the author  places himself squarely in the ranks of the whining, sniveling, immature society that has refused personal responsibility and  independence.  He then goes on and makes the childish plea for   “We desperately need, and before long I predict we will get, a passionate, charismatic, probably female leader who advocates the Unselfish Capitalism of our neighbors.”     And of course this passionate, charismatic probably female leader who advocates Unselfish Capitalism will also advocate Universal Health Care,  a so-called Living Wage regardless of the job and most certainly strictures on business to curb profits while offering workers more and more benefits.  Heaven forbid having to make some realistic mature personal choices concerning your REAL wants vs needs, or making sacrifices  to achieve these wants and needs.

While I agree CEO’s income in comparison to the worker’s wages is outrageous, I must point out that entertainers and sports figures also fall into this category while offering far less than a good CEO whose efforts produce a prosperous business providing jobs and incomes and profits for share holders.  And yet I hear few blaming or castigating the entertainers or sports figures for their over compensation.  Certainly our author doesn’t mention them.

Do read the entire article  as the author has indeed defined Western society and the one force that is destroying us.  You might  then ask yourself where you belong.  BB

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