8.19.2007

Who do we blame?

I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend and we ended up discussing the topic of the culture of excess that thrives in our nation. As a country was have come to rely on things that are not actually necessary to our everyday survival and that self entitlement thought pattern is passing into our younger generations.

We treat luxury items like they are everyday necessities and worse a vast majority of people don't stop to think about how what they buy and the price they pay for it effects the overall picture.

Stay with me on this for a moment. I've had this discussion before, most memorably with a co-worker who wanted to buy a Rolex. I asked why. His answer? "Well, because it's a Rolex." He was confused that I didn't understand his desire for this item. I asked him if a Rolex told better time than a $24.99 Timex. He looked at me like I was stupid,"No, but it's a Rolex." Then I asked him if perhaps magical elves were making the watches and that's what made them special. He snorted at me and said, "Now you're just being stupid." I shrugged and said, "Well, if you're wanting to spend 10,000 on a watch I don't know that that makes me the stupid one." He didn't talk to me for about a week.

I hear people talk all the time about how hard they work for their money and how they deserve to have the nice things in life, but I often wonder what that means. Does spending $100 on a pair of jeans make them better or more special? Does having a particular name stiched into the back of your shirt make you a better person?

Most of these same people talk about the good works they do. The charities they support. I can't help thinking that if they weren't spending $200 on a single shirt, they could have helped more. I will never make a good rich person. I just don't understand the mind-set.

The only reason stores like Abercrombie and Fitch or Banana Republic can charge what they do is because people pay the prices. If no one shopped there, you can damn well bet the prices would be much lower.

How does this effect the big picture? Think about it for a minute. Why do you suppose so many young people are looking for a way to make money quickly? Why do you think teenagers look down their noses at jobs that pay minimum wage? There's a culture in our society now that says that to be successful you must wear Item A and own Item B. To fit in with the people who matter you have to look one way, act one way, smell one way.....and the majority of people don't even question it.

My husband has three pairs of Doc Martin boots, several designer lable shirts and jeans and I have a few myself. You want to know where I got them? At the used clothing store. I paid no more than $5.00 for each piece in the closet.

We talk a lot in todays world about how to make things better for the people who don't make that much. How about simply making it so that everyone can afford to live? Stop paying for the $300 shoes and the $40,000 cars. If no one bought them....

The next time you go shopping and you reach for something, stop a moment and think about what you're buying and how much you're paying for it. Think about why you're buying that particular brand. Maybe if more of us start thinking about the little things we do everyday we can bring a larger sense of social conscieness back into our world.

6 comments:

super des said...

I definitely do not go in for the brand-name stuff, unless, like you I bought it at a thrift store. There are some things that do cost a little more for quality, but not most things.

ian said...

Oh yeah, I'm totally a cheapskate. I rarely spend ANY money on myself. I'm so paranoid about running out of money that I will intentionally go without things that I really ought to have just so there's more money in case of whatever.

Ian

Whiskeymarie said...

I will very VERY occasionally splurge (even then, usually under $75) on one thing, but that's usually once a year and not because it's name brand but because I love well-made, unusual stuff.
That being said, everyone who knows me at all knows that I take pride in how little I spend on stuff. I love when I can take a quick inventory and see that I am wearing a $30 outfit, including shoes.
I don't get wanting branded stuff.
I never will, and no amount of persuasion will make me think it isn't idiotic to spend tons of $$ on something just for a "name".

Suzanne said...

Yeah, I just spent Sat. afternoon at a bridal shower while the bride opened dozens of useless gifts. This is in additions to the hundreds of gifts already given for the engagement party. More to come at the wedding. The woman I sat with kept wondering where on earth the couple would even put all that stuff. I can't stand the greed.

On another note, I am not proud to admit (but I will) that I own a pair of $108 jeans. These were bought in a fit of despair when I realized that my regular ones were so tight due to some weight gain that the circulation to my lower half was getting cut off.

Also, I often feel excessively guilty about how much I do and don't give to charity. I don't live a luxurious life by far, but I do live a nice one, and it wracks me with guilt. I try and do the right thing. I felt less bad about it when I worked full time at a non-profit organization and paid with pieces of my sanity and soul to try and make the world a better place.

viciousrumours said...

Suanne,
The big difference would be that you think about it. The people I'm talking about don't even give it a second thought. They move through life clueless to the conditions of others. That's a HUGE difference.

Gunfighter said...

""Well, if you're wanting to spend 10,000 on a watch I don't know that that makes me the stupid one."

Amen, sister!