Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Avoid the money trap

Capitalist economies work on the basis of constant consumption. To keep the wheels of the economy turning people need to keep spending money. So, companies need to keep coming up with new things for us to buy, new fads and fashions, new technological gizmos and so on. Alongside this is the tendency for success in life to be measured in material terms – not just the size of one’s bank balance, but also signs of what has come to be known as ‘conspicuous consumption’. This involves displaying symbols of wealth and standing: expensive cars, designer clothes, being seen out in the most expensive restaurants, and so on. Of course, these two phenomena are not separate. This is because all this conspicuous consumption keeps the economy going, and, in turn, much of the media message put across is that wealth can bring happiness: spending money is good for you, so the more money you have, the happier you can be.

The reality, of course, is very different from the rhetoric …

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