Living in a Material World


A Washington Post piece on high-ticket consumption includes a quotation from an anthropologist who believes that "competitive consumerism may be an evolutionarily adaptive behavior". So… does that mean humanity is just a stepping stone from the chimpanzees to the Fab Five?

Quoted repeatedly is consumer culture paean peddler James Twitchell, who's written for Reason here and here. Also Robert Lane, in the "you can't buy happiness" camp.

I'm pretty sure that you can buy at least small doses of happiness. (No, no, not those doses… although… that too.) But do I have to turn in my libertarian decoder ring if the thought of people blowing $5g on handbags while a couple billion people remain in absolute poverty turns my stomach just a bit?