3 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2021
    1. there has been a spectacular rise in luxury consumption, with the consumption patterns of the global elite acting as a marker for those further down the income scale. Robert Frank (2000) describes the process as 'luxury fever', as consumption expectations are ratcheted up all the way down the income scale. The global elite are pushing up people's expectations and assumptions. In the US, for example, the average size of house has doubled, in square feet terms, in the past thirty years. In part it is a function of the positional nature of consumption. We consume in order to position ourselves relative to other people. Not only do the global elite raise the upper limit, everyone is thus forced to spend more just to keep up, but they also become the perceived benchmark, Juliet Schor's work, for example, shows that people are no longer keeping up with the people next door, but the people they see on television and magazines (Schor, 1998). In order to keep up with these raised consumption standards people are working harder and longer as well as taking out more debt. The increase in luxury consumption has raised consumption expectations further down the income scale, which in order to be funded has involved increased workloads and increased indebtedness. It is not so much keeping up with the Jones but 'keeping up with the Gates'.

      The elites point the way for those in even the lowest income brackets to follow. This crosses cultures as well. Capitalism trumps colonialism as former colonized peoples reserve the right to taste the fruits of capitalism. Hence, hard work, ingenuity and leveraging opportunity to accumulate all the signs and symbols of wealth, joining the colonialist biased elites is seen as having arrived at success, even though it means contributing to the destruction of the planetary commons. The aspirations to wealth must be uniformly deprioritized in order to align our culture in the right direction that will rescue our species from the impact of following this misdirection for the past century.

  2. Apr 2021
    1. The majority of countries for which adequate data exist have seen rising inequality in income and wealth over the past several decades