consumerism in context

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The idea of taxing conspicuous consumption is gaining ground, as Smirking Chimp explains when talking to economist Robert Frank (lauded as "arguably the country's leading expert on wretched excess"):

The reason the nation's wealthiest have become a menace to the commonweal, Frank has concluded, is not because of how much more they make than the rest of us. It's how much more they spend. [...] It boils down to this: Scrap the income tax.

The specter of "trickle-down consumerism" haunts middle-class lives:

Whatever you do, just don't call it keeping up with the Joneses on steroids. Frank finds that too judgmental. The reason the median family is spending 50 to 75 percent more to buy a house that's at least 50 percent bigger than the ones they bought in 1970, or proud parents are spending more than three times as much on weddings than they did in 1980, Frank says, has less to do with envy or status-seeking than what he calls "context." [...]

"The better schools are located in the neighborhoods where the houses are more expensive," he said. So middle-class families "bid up the prices, of course, in the better school districts."

"Frank doesn't expect his recommendations to come to fruition overnight," the piece observes, although:

...other once-unthinkable things, such as a tax on carbon consumption and legalized gay marriage, gained rapid acceptance once they had gathered momentum. "Things happen incrementally until they don't," said Frank. "Revolutions, when they come, are never widely predicted."

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on October 28, 2016 10:02 AM.

the parameters of debate was the previous entry in this blog.

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