Riveting article that I read this article in the Op-Ed section of the Los Angeles Times, almost ten years ago. It’s as true now as it was then, and speaks so clearly of the consumerism and materialism that has many of us by the throat. Here’s a snippet, but do read the whole article, here:
“So why the ceaseless search for stuff? In a word, competition. It’s worth it to stay ahead in the rat race. Researchers have asked people which they’d prefer: a worldin which they made $50,000 but everyone else made half that; or one in which they made $100,000 and everyone else made twice that (prices are the same in both worlds). The majority preferred the first world. They would happily make less money, as long as everyone else made even less money.
“Surveys have returned similar results for houses. Most individuals prefer a smaller house in a world where their neighbors have even smaller houses to a bigger house in a world where their neighbors have even bigger houses. Winning the competition is more important than having a yard, it turns out. Which is why economists call these ‘positional goods’ — goods whose worth is deeply tied into their position vis-a-vis your direct “competitors” (which is to say neighbors, friends, etc.).”