Monday, November 28, 2005

I Don't Understand Anti-Consumerism

Kip Esquire talks about yet another attack on “consumerism” via a 60 Minutes piece on McMansions.

So while I was watching an atrocious 60 Minutes piece on so-called "McMansions," with a parade of would-be central planners (including bitter neighbors and of course the omnipresent anti-luxury socialist, Robert H. Frank) lamenting that people are tearing down "perfectly good" homes in order to build larger ones, something occurred to me: What exactly is the difference between --

(a) people unable to afford McMansions seeking to ban them via zoning restrictions under the rationalization that they are somehow "unnecessary and wasteful," and

(b) people unable to afford First Class plane tickets demanding that the government ban First Class travel under the rationalization that it is somehow "unnecessary and wasteful"?

Between hating people with big houses because they are “wasteful” and Buy Nothing Day I think someone is missing something important and I’m pretty sure it isn’t me. Do these nutballs think that goods just appear on the store shelves or houses appear out of thin air?

Let’s take this to the extreme and assume for a minute that they get their way and Americans don’t build big houses and don’t buy stuff that they want. How does the carpenter put food on his kids’ plate? How does the Costco (the gloriously benevolent company which sells such wasteful items such as fine art, jewelry, and expensive wine) employee pay for the mortgage on her adequately sized home?

Is it possible that such people are so shortsighted that they don’t realize that the economy is interconnected with everything? That tinkering with something as simple as the tax on yachts has consequences for working class people?

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