Affluenza in Suburbatopia?

Clive Hamilton is the author of Affluenza a confronting and inspiring book that looks at the lives of Australian people and their quest to find happiness in life through acquisition. He made many interesting discoveries in his research. Here are a few:

* 62% of Australians believe they cannot afford to buy everything they need: that includes 46% of the richest 20% of households in Australia who really believe they are impoverished.

* The size of the average house increased 31% between 1985 and 2000: We now have so many extra rooms because we have so much extra “stuff”.

* Manufacturers produce items like refrigerators and BBQ’s at the ultra-premium end of the scale, not because they think they will sell many, but because it “escalates the level of desire on the part of ordinary consumers”, such that instead of paying $800 for an adequate fridge, they will pay $2000 for one with marginally better performance, because they equate the higher price with higher quality and therefore it reflects a higher social status.

They know we are suckers for ‘cool’

And this one is a biggie…

* Australians work the longest hours in the developed world: 1855 hours a year. We also have the second highest proportion of part-time employees, which actually drives down the average.

All of this working is so that we can earn the money to fund this illusionary lifestyle we are pursuing.

We are the wealthiest we have ever been. We are closer to the ‘dream’ than we have ever been and yet we also have higher levels of depression, marriage bust-up and suicide than ever before.

The numbers add up… but life isn’t working. In fact it’s falling apart all around us as we focus our energy on the wrong things

Many of us feel trapped in a world with big mortgages, huge credit card debt and no hope in the foreseeable future. We accept it as normal and complain that life is out of control – but its not life – its us!

We allow ourselves to enter mega-debt to try and create the suburbatopia we have been promised. Or we work ourselves to the bone to have the money we need to fund the lifestyle we desire.

The only problem is that when we get home from work there is no life left to ‘style’

In this crazy consumer culture you can have everything you want now… except contentment.

If you’ve read this spiel and seen yourself in the descriptions then I want to invite you to step back and ask ‘why am I doing this?’ Jesus said ‘I have come so that people will experience life – life in all of its fullness.’ But I’m guessing he was defining ‘fullness’ differently to how most Aussies would.

What do you reckon?

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