With all the amazing technological achievements of our generation, do you ever wonder why Americans are nevertheless working more hours than ever? Do you ever wonder why all these amazing devices and machines seem to have increased our need for more stuff rather than to have decreased it?
Our economic system depends upon discontent and perpetual dissatisfaction. The economic engine depends upon us always wanting more and newer stuff. The very purpose of advertising is to keep us unhappy with the status quo and to leave us feeling we’re missing out on things that would make us happier. So, now matter how much stuff we have, we continue to work and borrow and spend and consume–and we stay discontent, unhappy and unsatisfied. We become slaves to consumerism and mere revenue generators for those who profit from our unhappiness.
Capitalists figured our long ago that if our prosperity should result in more leisure, that would be bad for business.
Consider this, from the book Affluenza (via What Would Jesus Eat?)
But industrial leaders in the 1920s had their own religion, the gospel of consumption. A reduction in working hours, they believed, might bring the whole capitalist system to its knees. Increased leisure, Harvard economist Thomas Carver Nixon warned, was bad for business: “There is no reason to believe that more leisure would ever increase the desire for goods…If it should result in more gardening, more work around the home in making or repairing furniture, painting and repairing the house and other useful avocations, it would cut down the demand for the products of our wage paying industries.”
Our society’s downward spiral toward bankruptcy by overconsumption will continue unless and until we figure out that we are just chasing the wind.