Sunday, February 06, 2005

He Wasn't Kidding...

The great increase in consumer indebtedness in our time has been widely viewed as reflecting some original or unique change in popular attitudes or behavior. People have changed their view of debt. Thus there has been an inexplicable but very real retreat from the Puritan canon that required an individual to save first and enjoy later. In fact, as always, the pieces of economic life are part of a whole. It would be surprising indeed if a society that is prepared to spend thousands of millions to persuade people of their wants were to fail to take the further step of financing these wants, and were it not then to go on to persuade people of the ease and desirability of incurring debt to make these wants effective. This has happened. The process of persuading people to incur debt, and the arrangements for them to do so, are as much a part of modern production as the making of the goods and the nurturing of the wants. The Puritan ethos was not abandoned. It was merely overwhelmed by the massive power of modern merchandising.
— John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, 1958

Sure seems as if Dr. Galbraith was on to something, huh?

— Posted by Michael @ 1:08 AM


Excellent point. Thanks for bringing this to view. So what would it take to bring people back to a life of frugality and thrift? A public campaign? By whom? Religious institutions? Educational institutions?



Parents and teachers HAVE to do a better job teaching kids proper money-management skills. Unfortunately, I think it will take something much more disasterous like a depression in order to bring people back to reality.



What would it take? My very first thought — before I'd even read JLP's response — was:

Depression.The 1920s were pretty out-of-control, spending-wise, from what I understand.

The 1930s fixed it.

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]