Have you seen this article by Jason Pitzl-Waters? It's fabulous, and you need to read it.
Go, I'll wait.
Alright. In the comments, a woman posted who obviously did not read the same article I did. Apparently Jason is telling us to reject Capitalism, (he didn't) and this is part of what she posted in reply:
"Practice what you preach before you preach it: Give your stuff away. Reject capitalism. Go to the barter system. Pay more taxes if it pleases you. Come back and let us know how well it works."
Now, if he had actually said all this, I would have shrugged at the comment and gone right by it. Of course many people jumped to his aid as will always happen with fabulous and ethical writers like Jason. But this comment made me think. I've been having an ongoing discussion for the past couple of weeks with my family members about this very thing.
Why do we feel the need to have everything? Of course, as human beings, we are always going to feel envious of what "the other half" has, but what happened to living within your means? What happened to being thankful for what you have, saving up for what you wanted, and staying out of debt? Of course, in the world today, debt it unavoidable. That's okay. We have debt. You, my reader, probably have debt.
What we are talking about is a choice. What do we choose? Do we choose what we need, or what we want? Most people choose what they want.
Lets look at the average family. I fully admit that this is an "average" family in my head, and not based off of any stats, but humor me. Let me know if it is too off base. The "average" family lives in a home they consider moderate. It is probably between 1500 and 2000 sq feet, or a little more, not including the basement. They probably have two cars. A TV in the living room, bedroom, and possibly the basement if they have a rec room in there. They probably have a gaming console or two. They will have a home phone, and each member of the family will also have a cell phone, except maybe the youngest child. They probably have a computer or two in the house, be it laptop or desktop. I'm sure there are things that I'm missing, but you get the picture. Now think of all the debt that would be incurred for that home, those electronics, etc. According to a CNN Money piece (undated) , " The average American household with at least one credit card has nearly $10,700 in credit-card debt " That is just an example of course, but that also doesn't count mortgage, car loans, or any other debt.
Now, would I like to have all that? Yes. I'm not going to lie. However, it's all about priorities. Would I rather have a home that, in my town, would cost upwards of $330,000? Or would I rather not work a "normal" job, and stay at home with my daughter? If I'm going to have credit card debt, what do I want that debt to be for? A new 3D TV? Or the new computer I needed to keep working on because my last one died? Considering that I have financial endeavors which need a computer (Etsy, cookbooks, etc) I'm sure you can guess my choice. That isn't to say that Sean and I weren't drooling over a 3D TV at the mall the other day...Maybe one day, IF we have the money for it. The only reason we have a flat screen HD TV right now is because it was a wedding present. Before that? We made do with a 21", as I liked to call them, bubble screen. In a perfect world, we would be able to save up money for every big purchase instead of putting it on the credit card, and a lot of the time we do. However, we are normal people and have money issues just like everyone else.
I suppose my point is about moderation. If everyone has a cell phone, you don't need a home phone. One computer (unless there is something for a job that needs to be separate) will suffice. Heck, one TV will suffice. We live in 910 sq ft, and we know that when we struggle to find room for things, that just means we have too much stuff.
It isn't about rejecting capitalism. It's about rejecting excess. It doesn't mean you have to live a minimalist life, you just have to live within your means. Has the American financial system done Americans wrong? I believe so. Is the Occupy Movement relevant? I think it is, and also vitally important. Those who had homes taken away by greed not their own are not to blame - but maybe we need to look at what we really need, instead of what we want, and make our choices accordingly.
What do you think?