Stuff Sparks Joy

Marie Kondo understands what Tucker Carlson and Bernie Sanders do not.


When Bernie Sanders and Tucker Carlson agree on something, be afraid. The democratic socialist senator and the populist conservative pundit are not natural allies. But recently, they have converged on a single point of consensus with potentially terrifying consequences: Americans have too much stuff.

The far left of the American political spectrum is the longtime home of Starbucks-smashing protesters, militant recyclers, Naomi Klein acolytes, and Walmart boycotters—people who believe we are destroying the planet with our overconsumption of cheap stuff at the expense of workers' well-being. On his 1987 folk album (yes, such a thing exists), Sanders pinpointed "consumerism, the futile striving for happiness by earning more and more money to buy more and more things," as one of the world's great problems, a theme the Vermont independent has returned to while lamenting everything from the wide variety of deodorant choices on drug store shelves to Chinese imports.

A subset of conservatives has long espoused its own variant of anti-consumerism, typically concerned more with the corruption of the immortal soul than the planet. But in January, Fox News host Tucker Carlson highlighted how aligned the views of the populist right and the socialist left have become on issues of trade, industry, jobs, and markets. "Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven't so far," he asked, in the middle of an impassioned monologue imploring viewers to turn away from the idea that markets are a force for good. "Libertarians tell us that's how markets work—consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives," he sneered. "OK. But it's also disgusting."

Sanders and Carlson are both fundamentally wrong about stuff and its relation to happiness. The person who best grasps the true dynamic isn't a pundit, a philosopher, or an economist. She's a self-help guru with two best-selling books and a new series on Netflix: the tiny Japanese deity of tidiness, Marie Kondo.

Kondo's life's work is to help people sort their belongings, toss a bunch of them, and put the rest away neatly. She calls it The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She asks her clients to hold each object they possess one at a time to decide if it "sparks joy." If it doesn't, one thanks the object and discards it. Sound anti-consumerist? It's not: The insight that undergirds her entire system is that stuff can, in fact, make you happy.

There is such a thing as too much stuff, of course. America's bulging attics and cluttered spare bedrooms are testaments to the burden that too many objects can impose. Anyone who has ever thought "I have nothing to wear" while standing in front of a packed closet knows that having an excess of choices cacophonously presented can be paralyzing.

But both the left and the right are subject to dangerous romantic fantasies about lives with limited choice. Conservatives tend to idealize a time when a less dynamic economy and fewer divisible assets kept families together in close quarters of sheer necessity, while liberals and progressives fondly imagine a world where the engine of the economy runs slower, work is more leisurely, and competition is less fierce.

Kondo does flirt with the idea that clutter makes you physically unwell—that it induces anxiety, bad eating habits, tension, and more. And she may be right. But if too much of the wrong stuff is bad for your health, not enough of the right stuff is much, much worse.

Modern food sanitation is enabled by inexpensive plastic. Modern medicine by disposable sterile needles and packaging. The dramatic worldwide reduction in malnutrition is a credit to diverse cheap food facilitated by global markets. In 1960, infant mortality in the U.S. was 26 per 1,000 live births. In 2017, it was 6. Adult mortality fell by more than half over the same period. Money can't buy happiness, but abject poverty is a ticket to misery.

In almost every episode of Kondo's Netflix show, there is a cameo by a box of cables. No one knows what they are for, yet they lurk in hall closets and file cabinets. These cord collections are a relic of a time when such stockpiles were rational. A missing cord or adapter could render extremely expensive electronics useless, and replacements could be difficult or impossible to source. Today, thanks to cheap imports from China and elsewhere, electronics are cheap and replacement parts are instantly searchable, then deliverable right to your door.

In this sense, Americans' homes are crowded with too much stuff not because they're too rich but because they're still thinking of themselves as too poor. This seemingly counterintuitive notion is on display in the difference between the homes of the wealthy, which are nearly always large but devoid of visible extraneous objects, and the houses of the working class, which are much more likely to be crammed to the rafters. Poor people tend to keep everything. But the desire to hang on to lots of stuff originates in fear, not joy.

At the core of Kondo's project is an idea more revolutionary than and in opposition to the prevailing anti-materialist moral consensus. By asking you to pay attention to how you feel about things, she hopes to help you become more sensitive to stuff-induced euphoria. Kondo taps into the strong feelings people have about their belongings rather than asking them to minimize those impulses, as the practitioners of both left- and right-wing variants of anti-consumerist austerity demand.

In this way, Kondo answers the most tenacious criticism of her methodology: that only the most obscenely wealthy could even consider practicing this method, which is contingent on throwing away masses of perfectly good clothes and household objects in pursuit of an intangible goal of tidiness. So wasteful! Surely, this critique goes, no one has ever held a bottle of Clorox or a six-pack of Charmin and felt joy.

In fact, when scarcity becomes extreme, necessities can generate intense feelings. In Venezuela, toilet paper sparks joy. But that's hardly a recommendation for socialism.

When Sanders scoffs at a wide deodorant selection and Carlson sneers at cheap iPhones, both men exhibit astonishing failures of imagination. Of course an affordable iPhone brings joy, by enabling better communication with the people we love, if nothing else. And for some hard-working, sweaty people, a good deodorant arsenal is absolutely crucial to day-to-day well-being.

Kondo, by contrast, is a pluralist. If there's anything we've learned from the golden age of reality TV, it's that people are weirder than you could possibly have imagined. Human beings are astonishingly various. Kondo's antiseptic appearance (she has geometrically tidy bangs and wears only crisp white tops) and strong opinions about the right way to fold socks notwithstanding, she is the only one of the three who is ultimately willing to leave people's happiness in their own hands, to trust them to know themselves better than she does.

When confronted with the kind of overstuffed middle-class lives that fill Bernie and Tucker with revulsion, Kondo squeaks "I love mess!" and seems to mean it.

Carlson and Sanders seem to know everything: How women should allocate their time between work and family, how factories should make staffing decisions, whose pain is strong enough to justify pills and who should tough it out, which cheap Chinese goods are acceptable and in what quantities. Tidying Up contains no quotas, no ratios, no target number of trash bags or boxes that must end up by the curb. Even more surprising, there is no evidence that Kondo secretly favors the people who choose to keep books or photos, say, over those who struggle to part with sweaters or spatulas. She genuinely wants her clients to figure out what makes them happy. End of story.

Kondo's cheerful neutrality about other people's preferences is a great, undervalued virtue. That disinterestedness is rare and beautiful in a world filled with so many hectoring busybodies.

NEXT: Brickbat: Just Don't Do It

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  1. I don’t see a problem with calling out a culture of consumerism. It’s a bs societal phenomenon where people compete with others over how fashionable their assets are rather than how well thise assets fill their needs.
    Also, there are a few reasons why the rich don’t have overly cluttered living spaces. They have more space to sequester all useful items. They have the resources to hire others to do everything for them. Spread out all the things I need for everyday living and leisure into a space 2-3 times larger and it’ll look much more bare. Do it yourselfers and people with varied interests are going to have clutter just because of the items required to equip then for those activities

    1. What a ridiculous false dichotomy. If the ‘need’ is fashion, then ‘fashionable assets’ are, precisely, assets chosen to fill that ‘need.’
      Really, there are no needs, only wants, and you just want to sneer at people who choose differently than you do.

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    2. I see no problem with telling both Sanders and Carlson to mind their own business and quit trying to interfere with other people’s absolute right to pure freedom of contract to buy whatever they want from whoever they want whenever they want.

      Neither one of them have ever accomplished anything in the life that proves that they are any wiser about what anyone else should being doing or buying than the people are themselves.

      1. I’ve got no problem with Sanders or whoever getting up on his soapbox and telling people that they should change their ways; that they would be happier and the world better off if they did. The problem is that Sanders isn’t just doing that. He’s also trying to pass legislation that will send men with guns to other peoples’ houses and places of business and force them to change their ways.

        1. Why does anyone pay any attention to Sanders or Carlson?

          These types of people don’t represent average Americans. Just stop giving them money and they go away.

          1. America has a grand old tradition of puritanical preaching. There is really nothing novel with either one of these tiresome tribunes of simpler times.

      2. Is Tucker saying nobody should buy stuff?

        No. He is saying that doing so is certainly not making people HAPPIER. He’s not saying the market is evil or wrong — the market is a thoroughly non-moral actor, which is fine.

        But to pretend that buying shit is going to make you happy is a fool’s belief.

        1. Yup. She’s willfully ignoring this obvious fact, which he makes clear in his many other statements.

          1. That’s not her take at all. Her thesis is that if you don’t love something, you shouldn’t be keeping it. She’s not telling people they’ll be happier by buying things. Maybe watch an episode or learn to read?

            I agree that Tucker is really only saying that buying things doesn’t make you happier. And I think there is a comparison here between him and Sanders that doesn’t make sense. Bernie wants legislation and Tucker wants reason.

        2. “””Libertarians tell us that’s how markets work?consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives,” he sneered. “OK. But it’s also disgusting.”””

          Yep, Tucker says it’s ok even though he finds it disgusting. Sanders wants to force anti-consumerism onto to people. Big difference.

          I respect people who can say they disagree with something but are not interested in using the force of the state to control your behavior to their ends, more than people who just want to control your behavior.

          1. “Yep, Tucker says it’s ok even though he finds it disgusting. Sanders wants to force anti-consumerism onto to people. Big difference.”

            +1, this seems obvious from the statements made. Tucker Carlson is just advocating for his point of view. On the other hand, Sanders clearly wants to make his point of view enforceable by Law.

        3. “He is saying that doing so is certainly not making people HAPPIER”

          Exactly. Which is 100% opposite to the likes of Sanders who is telling you what will make you happy, and it ain’t your free choice, it’s his statist edicts.

          The spend-spend-spend mentality of many market types is as shallow as it comes. Just because you have the right, it doesn’t make it right. Consumer spending is not a moral good in an of itself. Yet every Christmas (or other such) we are presented with the idea that it’s a triumph of capitalism. Furious spending for the mere sake of furious spending is celebrated.

          That presents the market as a very shallow mechanism for solving human problems, as if spending itself solves a problem. And it allows the likes of Sanders to construct plausible arguments against the supposed wastefulness and soul-destruction of the market.

          And he would be right if the market was actually just about consumption for consumption’s sake. It ain’t, and the defenders of the market should offer more substantive arguments, especially moral arguments, for the necessity of the market.

          1. “The spend-spend-spend mentality of many market types is as shallow as it comes. Just because you have the right, it doesn’t make it right. Consumer spending is not a moral good in an of itself. Yet every Christmas (or other such) we are presented with the idea that it’s a triumph of capitalism. Furious spending for the mere sake of furious spending is celebrated.”

            The point of an economy is to consume goods. If you don’t like it, get in the breadlines.

            1. The point of an economy is to produce. Production comes before consumption. Try it the other way around sometime. We have a distorted view of the market precisely because citizens and the state have been led to believe that the mere fact of consumption is all that matters. Witness the constant attempts to prime the economy, the mandated interest rates, the free loans, the perverse inducements to borrow, invest and consume, and you see plainly the result of a consumption-first perspective, 2008 being the latest example of reality slapping us in the face.

              1. A nation will become prosperous if it produces more than it consumes… It will become bankrupt if it consumes more than it produces… Same for any individual. Period.

        4. Well, he’s wrong. Stuff makes me happy.

          One counter example is sufficient to disprove a universal claim. So nail, meet coffin.

          1. Then you’ve just made the same mistake by conflating a specific circumstance (stuff making you happy) with a general condition (stuff making most people happy).

            Regardless, he’s obviously generalising. You, being a pointy head, have failed to notice that.

            1. Uh, yeah that’s the problem. Squirrelloid is making the point that speaking in generalization is stupid because it’s a useless blanket statement that is easily disproven. Tucker is assigning morality to consumption using a generalization. That’s retarded. There are myriad reasons people buy things and being a vapid materialist isn’t always one of them.

        5. Tucker & Bernie may agree, but it might be Bolshevik Bernie, not Tucker that would consider codifying his view into law!

      3. “I see no problem with telling both Sanders and Carlson to mind their own business and quit trying to interfere with other people’s absolute right to pure freedom of contract to buy whatever they want from whoever they want whenever they want.”

        Your pure freedom just may conflict with other people’s pure freedom. Burning coal causes asthma, coal ash poisons wells, co2 from coal warms the earth. Do you think you have the pure right to do with coal what you want?

        1. They’re talking about the “…absolute right to pure freedom of contract to buy whatever they want from whoever they want…”

          And you do have such an absolute right.

          You, being a dumb shit, have confused the buying of something with the circumstances of its production. It may indeed be produced in violation of a law, but that’s a separate question.

    3. The issue comes down to whether you are buying that 80in TV because you enjoy watching TV, or because your neighbor just bought a 75in TV?

      1. Why does it matter?
        Seriously, what difference does it make?
        Unless your concern is that people only be allowed to do things for reasons of which you approve rather than for reasons you find crass or unacceptable, mind your own damn business. Imputing motives for the sole purpose of finding a possible source of offense is absurd.
        Motives don’t matter, actions do.

        1. Whether or not it makes a difference depends on whether or not we are talking about regulating people’s behavior, or just giving them advice.

          If your friend is talking about buying an 80 inch TV, it’s reasonable to ask them: “Do you really think that will make you happy, or are you just doing it to compete with your neighbors?”

          If some lawmaker is trying to make TVs more expensive so less people buy them, we are right to call them out for being paternalistic dickheads.

          Lots of people do dumb things that don’t make them happy because of social pressure, and it’s reasonable to encourage them to stop caring so much about other people’s opinions. What isn’t reasonable is politicians who think they know best making everyone’s choices for them.

          You don’t have to assume people make good decisions all the time in order to oppose the government making decisions for people.

          1. Exactly.

            I hate people who refuse to make the distinction between giving advice or whatever, and trying to pass laws. There’s nothing wrong with calling people out on them doing dumb shit, especially if you really think you know better. Keeping in mind many people are dumb asses, some friendly advice can often be useful.

      2. But one of the Deep and Meaningful Social Criticisms, at least on the conservative side, is that people these days don’t even know who their neighbors are, much less how big a TV they have.

      3. Kevin Smith|4.2.19 @ 8:28AM|#
        “The issue comes down to whether you are buying that 80in TV because you enjoy watching TV, or because your neighbor just bought a 75in TV?”

        The issue is simple: It’s none of your goddam business.

    4. MasterThief|4.2.19 @ 7:34AM|#
      “I don’t see a problem with calling out a culture of consumerism.”

      I see a BIH problem with someone telling me what I “should” own.
      Fuck off, slaver.

  2. This sounds like a great show to check out.
    It sounds like a version of the TV show Hoarders, but less judgmental and less sensationalistic.

    1. Chemjeff’s stash of urine-filled jars was kept in accordance with his cultural identity.

      1. No that was the episode with Crusty’s hoard.

        1. Crusty’s “hoard” violates not just the laws of every nation, but also every extradimensional demonic hellscape.

          1. “Crusty’s Whordes”… Awesome band name.

      2. Does he keep it around the kiddie porn featuring illegals as the predators?

  3. As I look back on my life choices I wish I had just been a petite Japanese lady who could capitalize on my appeal with western audiences’ fetish for Japanese culture and aesthetics by making a career out of tidying up.

    Instead I sit here pondering the amorphous, six-dimensional, constantly mutating model of what “cultural appropriation” is acceptable (kosher?!), or not (haram?!), and for whom. As a stupid, fat gaijin deplorable, I wonder if it is acceptable for me to practice feng-shui or enjoy shiatsu. Probably today. Not sure about tomorrow.

  4. Mangu-Ward makes an entire column out of willfully misconstruing Carlson’s point.

    This column does not spark joy.

    1. And what exactly was Carlson’s point?

      1. That buying stuff doesn’t generate joy.

        It just does not.

        Today’s society is awash in shit to buy and people buy shit all of the time. People also routinely express how fucking miserable they are all of the time.

        Did buying shit make them miserable? No. But did it alleviate that? Also no.

        1. It’s not just “joy” he means… I think he would accept you can get a smile on your face for awhile buying a shiny thing. I think he means TRUE and deep happiness. And stuff DOES NOT do that.

          1. And stuff DOES NOT do that.

            How do you know?

            1. Because we are human and we can study human experience. We can study the general conditions that are needed to promote health and happiness without knowing the specific things that cause a particular individual to be happy.

              It’s exactly the same reasoning we have used to work out that the free market is the system most conducive for satisfying human wants and needs.

              A socialist like Sanders could–and does–use your own argument against you regarding the superiority of the market: how do you know?

              Filling your belly and staying warm are vital, and well satisfied by the market, but humans invented philosophy and art, and fought for things greater than themselves, because they found that once their bellies were filed and their bodies were warmed they need more than simple stuff could provide.

              1. Sounds like a lot of words to say money can’t buy you happiness. You could have just said that.

                In the end your argument doesn’t hold water, since plenty of people enjoy buying things.

                1. Shiny things buy you a temporary smile. I know, it does it for me too!

                  But you really do not get long lasting, deep happiness from mere stuff. Studies have shown happiness PEAKS in the lower rungs of the upper middle class. It goes DOWN on average with people who are filthy stinking rich. I’ve known miserable people worth 10s of millions, even a guy with $100 mil net worth who was miserable.

        2. Today’s society is awash in shit to buy and people buy shit all of the time. People also routinely express how fucking miserable they are all of the time.

          Are you really making the argument that since the joy in owning particular things doesn’t offset the misery caused by all the other dumb shit in the world that owning stuff doesn’t bring joy at all?

        3. damikesc|4.2.19 @ 9:50AM|#
          “That buying stuff doesn’t generate joy.
          It just does not.”

          Speak for yourself. You have no way to make a blanket statement.

          1. Yet I have done so. Odd.

            1. You can make the blanket statement.

              You just can’t prove that blanket statement to be true.

              And neither can Tucker Carlson.

              1. I can come far closer than the blanket statement that buying shit generates joy.

    2. Carlson had a point?

    3. I watch Tucker Carlson’s show frequently, and he often rails against the free market. I would think that he would understand the dangers of letting the state interfere with voluntary transactions, but apparently he trusts the state to be wise and not overstep its bounds even though the state has a long history of being unwise and always overstepping its bounds.

      1. Top Men, of faith! It has to work this time, right?

      2. I don’t watch that often… But I feel like his pitches for actual intervention are far and few between.

        He does criticize how things are playing out a lot of the time… But what is wrong with that if he’s not demanding laws?

        I think manufacturing t-shirts that wear out after a couple years of sparse use is a HORRIBLE idea. Especially when I have t-shirts I’ve worn 20 times as many times that were made in the USA in the 1990s when quality standards were higher that STILL are fine. 10 $5 shirts or 1 $8 shirt that lasts the same amount of time… I wonder which makes more sense?

        Same for my Redwing boots that run $250ish bucks.

        I can call these concepts idiotic, and “failures of capitalism” if I want to… As long as I don’t DEMAND a law against extra cheap crap clothing, it’s fine.

      3. Criticizing something and arguing that the government should regulate something or interfere are two very different things.

        I happen to think the free market is exploitative and terrible and there’s lot’s to criticize, but it’s still a far, far, far better prospect than anything else.

  5. Does not Sanders have three homes?

    I know he has a sinecure in Washington and he needs a nominal residence in Vermont, but King Tick has a good amount of stuff it seems.

    1. One is just his dacha.

      1. Stalin had many dachas, but he didn’t really enjoy them. See that’s the difference

      2. Stalin had many dachas, but he didn’t really enjoy them. See that’s the difference

        1. Did this extra comment bring you joy?

  6. I don’t know, both guys seem really happy with their stuff. It’s everyone else’s they seem to have a problem with.

  7. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

    >>>>>>>>>> http://www.GeoSalary.com

  8. Work more leisurely? I can see that as an improvement when the work is physically taxing. But otherwise, slowing work down just makes it more boring.

    1. Not just more leisurely, but better paying too!

  9. The missing element in here is ‘choice’.

    Nobody thinks personally owning 800 cans of anti-perspirant is a good thing. Everybody thinks that having 1 can of anti-perspirant that fits your needs is a good thing, and to do that you need 800 choices. If they are inexpensive, that’s even better.

    The same goes for shoes, pants, tacos, whatever. Hoarding is a problem. Choice is not.

    Live your own life.

    Hike your own hike.


    1. +100

    2. Fundamentally, we are talking about people eschewing individualism for collectivist thought in various ways.

      I shouldn’t pursue my own interests unless doing so is also good for factory workers in Wisconsin?

      Yeah, I’m livin’ life for me.

      1. When I volunteer or give money for charity, it’s because I care.

        There isn’t anything about the people I benefit that compels me to make sacrifices for them.

        I do it because it’s what I want.

        1. You are a good man, Kenny Shultz.

        2. Americans tend to be pretty generous with charity too.

          Even if taxes were lower because government cut welfare, Americans would likely still try and help their fellow man.

    3. If marxists and socialists were put on blacklists and prosecuted for their slaver behavior, we wouldn’t need to worry about what they could do to us. The moment society treated their ideas like everyone else’s we were in trouble. A man like sanders should have died in prison, or in a piss soaked alley decades ago. He defitmiely shouldn’t be a sitting US Senator.

      How does everyone not see that?

  10. The democratic socialist senator and the populist conservative pundit are not natural allies.

    That is where you are wrong. Lefties and RINOs love them some government. They just differ on what the reasoning is behind the Nanny-State.

    1. Do you think that Tucker is a RINO?

      1. He seems like a RINO to me but I only know about his public statements.

      2. Tucker is NOT a RINO IMO.

        But he certainly isn’t a libertarian either. He has a few libertarian streaks in him, but I’d say a pragmatic paleo-con would be about right. He’s down for some government interference now and again, but as per usual nothing on the scale your average leftist wants.

        1. If you are not a fiscal conservative, which is still a platform principle of the GOP, then you start to appear to be a RINO. Another dead giveaway is siding with Democrats on most laws. Another GOP platform item is ‘limited government’. I don’t think most Republicans are Libertarian kind of limited government but a massive social security, medicare, medicaid and Military Industrial Complex budget is not ‘limited government’.

  11. Stuff does not bring joy. What a pathetic worldview.

    If stuff brought joy, rich people would be the happiest people on earth. Unless you count “high”, they largely are not.

    Enough stuff/wealth to meet your needs but not so much to feel tied or overly invested in it seems to be the global sweet spot for happiness.

    1. It’s a good thing there are people like you in the world that can tell everyone else how to be happy.

      1. Is providing advice or suggestions verboten?

        CLM didn’t seem to be saying “You shouldn’t be PERMITTED to do this”. CLM seemed to be saying “Doing this doesn’t seem to generate a great deal of happiness”.

        It’s like drugs.I think doing drugs, by and large, is idiotic. But if you want to do it, that is on you. Why are Libertarians now demanding people APPLAUD all choices by people instead of, you know, just tolerating them?

        1. Why are Libertarians

          You’ll have to ask them.

          Is providing advice or suggestions verboten?

          Is providing criticism?

      2. Spark, it is a good thing there are people like you in the world that can not only tell everyone else how to be misanthropic, but you also walk the walk.

        1. I may be misanthropic, but I’m still not a racist.

          1. You are “still not a racist.”

            Yeah, some of your best acquaintances are black.

            1. Yeah, some of your best acquaintances are black.

              You’re not very good at this.

    2. An oldish study in the USA showed that happiness peaked around $75K a year, then went down slightly above that. You had enough to not be stressed about things, have all your basic needs met with some to spare, but probably didn’t have such a high stakes job you were stressed about that. In todays money that would probably be more like $100K a year.

      Sounds about right to me. Mind you ultra wealthy still tended to be happier than dirt poor, but were less happy than the middle class/upper middle class folks with far less material wealth than them.

      1. One of my earliest public declarations…

        Falk’s Fifth Law:
        “Enough Pay” is Always Equal to 20% More Than I’m Making Now.

        Corollary I: “Rich” is 3-5 Times As Much as I Make.
        Corollary II: “Wealthy” is 10+ Times As Much as I Make.

        C’mon, tell me I’m way off on that one? Not!

        Another view I discovered only a few decades ago is that one of the best measures of “wealth” is whether you have enough money or other resources to Have As Many Choices As You’d Like.

        If you have ‘enough’ choices in the areas that are important to you, you’re ‘wealthy,’ whether you’re living in a mansion or a monastery.

    3. If stuff brought joy, rich people would be the happiest people on earth. Unless you count “high”, they largely are not.

      This is a good reason to take all their stuff and redistribute it to others who don’t have as much stuff (or at least not the stuff they would like to have). It’s for their own good.

      1. That wouldn’t make them happy either. It should be a personal choice.

        Great book I read my kids every Christmas it The Quiltmaker’s Gift. All about a king who thinks stuff makes him happy, goes around accumulating all the stuff in the world and he is not happy. Discovers there’s one thing he does not have – a quilt from a gifted quiltmaker… but she only makes them for those who have nothing. So he goes out and gives away all his stuff to get a quilt… it wasn’t the quilt that made him happy. It was letting go of the stuff.

        If you only think the material world is all there is to our existence, then it is necessarily a difficult thing to swallow, but if you believe otherwise, it’s easier to let go and find out there’s more to happiness than things.

  12. I still have the box of cables and it sparks joy. When your brother needs an old RCA cable to finish putting together an experimental AV installation with a piece of ’80s film editing equipment and a home brew signal jammer, you can’t just wait for Amazon.

    1. I initially read AV as Adult Video.

  13. Is The Container Store sponsoring The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?

    Sounds like an interesting show but Netflix just increased their subscription prices and within about two minutes of finding this out we cancelled, and another thing, just what is the deal with Netflix’s obsession with serial killers?

  14. Democrats’ ideas about how the economy works didn’t change with their party identification as they flooded into the Republican party to vote for Trump. So, I’m not sure the changes we’re seeing are indicative of ideas in the Republican party having changed so much as it’s indicative of “deplorable” Democrats flooding into the Republican party after being chased out of it by social justice warriors.

    We might see a fundamental contradiction between people who hate both socialism and free trade, but I’m not sure how many individual Republicans are really holding both ideas simultaneously.

    1. People are still confused about what happened in 2016. Basically, it was the same thing that happened in 1980 and 1984, when the Reagan Democrats of the rust belt flooded into the Republican party to vote for Reagan. In 2016, the Trump Democrats flooded into the Republican party from the rust belt. The white, blue collar, middle class of the rust belt has been the bread and butter of the Democratic party since forever, but every once in a while, the Democrats become distracted by minority interests–and alienate their base.

      For the umpteenth time, these Democrats may identify as Republican when you call them on the phone, but people generally only change their party registration when they move from one home to another or get their driver’s license renewed. Trump won the nomination by dominating open primary states, where registered Democrats could vote for him, and he won the White House by winning the white, blue collar, rust belt vote in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin–a traditionally Democrat demographic that’s still led by unions who support the Democratic party.

      Is anybody suddenly confused about which party is supported by the UAW, the Teamsters, the United Mine Workers, or the AFL-CIO?

      To paraphrase Reagan, those people didn’t leave the Democratic party–the radical environmentalists social justice warriors, et. al. who run the Democratic party left them.

      1. That’s my take on the whole thing. Trump was the only candidate who talked about the issues they cared about and actually showed up to campaign in the rust belt. Hillary figured it was all a given and did neither. It’s not some mystery. For all the talk about how stupid and chaotic Trumps campaign was he somehow bested all the serious and organized people. Which leads me to believe it was neither all that chaotic or stupid than any normal candidate aside from his skin color and inarticulate speaking habits.

        1. Something that NEVER gets discussed is that Trump commissioned a series of polls on what issues people cared about, and where they were, PLUS poured over all public polling data. He then basically identified a few of the key ones and relentlessly talked about them.

          That is NOT being disorganized. It was some previous campaign manager in an interview who said that tid bit IIRC.

          1. Additionally, Trump was faced with a serious dilemma when it came to the sheer size of Hillary’s campaign support structure. Just like Obama had people donate their time to go door-to-door and whatever, Hillary also had that.

            Trump did not. Many in the GOP were pissed that he won the Primary.

            Trump most brilliant strategy was to focus on realistic campaign things that he could do to win swing states that Democrats were assuming would vote Blue. He said that if elected he would try and give attention to trade, jobs, and the economy. The people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin cared deeply about those things.

            Guess what Trump has focused quite a bit of energy on? Trade, jobs, and the economy. This is why he will be re-elected in 2020.

        2. It might sum up a difference in culture.

          Side one knows that working hard will produce results.

          Side two thinks they should not have to work hard and they are entitled to receive.

        3. In Hillary’s defense, the unions were supposed to deliver those states. The blue collar voters who broke for Trump defied their unions in doing so.

          And the Democrats still haven’t come to terms with what happened and why. No, you can’t hate on the white, blue collar, middle class incessantly and still expect them to vote for your party. Meanwhile, the social justice warriors think that if they can’t hate on the white, blue collar, middle class, then what’s the point of being in politics?

          1. The reason the Dems havent come to terms is all because of money in two parts. The first part being Many know how and why they lost, but if they were to admit it the establishment would have to admit that donors stroked a check to the tune of billions to an incompetent campaign that had no idea what it was doing. the second part is in moderating many donors wouldn’t want to donate as the largest amount of donations(especially during the midterms and primary seasons) comes from the most partisan leftists and social signalers in the country. Much easier to blame Russia and double down. Come the regular election and later in the primary I expect the leaders to moderate if it is at all possible, I also think by that time it will be too late. Additionally many of the party’s leadership, thought leaders and candidates come from the coasts which is a whole different sport from the cultures midwest and rustbelt. The pendulum will swing back to the democrats because it always does but I struggle to see a path of victory to the white house in 2020 unless they get an Obama like swell of minorities/moderates participation to vote for their candidate of choice which doesn’t seem likely given the current woke olympics and field of choices.

            1. A recession might have put the Democrats back in the White House in 2020, but as of yesterday, the yield curve is no longer inverted.

              Other than that, yeah, the Democrats will need to lose again before they learn anything from their mistakes.

              1. This is why I see Bernie as the candidate. The establishment lets the socialist win in an off year, while getting Kamala and their younger candidates feet wet in a national race. Than when he gets crushed they can purge the commies from the parties with the old we tried it your way and it didn’t work out so see yeah later.

        4. The Democrats cannot admit that Trump out smarted them and is still out smarting them.

          Trump is a populist and populists need to make people who feel left out, excited that they are being listened to.

          Libertarians just need politicians to do well and limit government.

  15. It would be nice if Mangu Ward were smart enough to understand Carlson’s point. Appearently she is not. I will assume good faith on her part and that she is not just lying. Carlson’s point is that there are more values in society than consumerism. Yeah, access to cheap shit is nice but if it comes at the expense of things like security or causing huge societal upheavel and displacement, that shit that Ward so craves isn’t quite as cheap as she thinks it is.

    Reason would have you believe the interests of consumers are the only morally legitimate interests in society. Carlson correctly disagrees.

    1. I think Mangu Ward is a good faith actor. Suderman is too he’s just a lefty who is too much of a hipster to admit it. Dahlmia is psychotic.

      1. Suderman’s consistently and willfully dishonest. Polar opposite of his wife.

        1. she is inconsistently and accidentally honest?

    2. Yup.

      Some things ARE more important than material wealth. People who refuse to admit that are insane. I’m as much of a capitalist pig as there is. I like shiny expensive shit too! But it’s simply a fact that shiny shit is not more important than LOTS of other things. That’s why people in 3rd world toilets are happier than Americans, and even those commies in Europe with half the living standard we have are happier still. It’s not the socialism that does it for them mind you, but because they have more intact social structures and cohesive societies IMO.

      1. Do you run your own blog? I’ve been enjoying your comments fo a while.

        1. Not sure if you’re trolling or not, but no I do not.

          If YouTube wasn’t so damned censored, and if I wasn’t afraid of ANTIFA fire bombing my house if I ever got doxxed I probably would start a YouTube channel or blog or something, because it would be fun. I don’t really have the time for it either. Maybe someday!

  16. As a capitalist pig who also likes stuff, some of which is very expensive and fancy… I have to admit that the general premise is in many ways correct.

    People ARE too focused on pointless stuff, and it doesn’t make us truly happy. Tucker isn’t trying to say stuff is BAD, but that stuff IS NOT ENOUGH, and maybe we ALSO need to be devoting more of our time and effort to fixing/finding the things that truly make us happy. That is his point, if you actually cared.

    And with that I cannot disagree.

  17. people are weirder than you could possibly have imagined.

    Keep repeating that to yourself until you feel joy.

  18. The problem with the Sanderses and Carlsons is that while preaching about our souls, they advocate policies to grab at our wallets.

    Hey, guys, if you’re anti-materialist, then stop trying to get the government to seize stuff on your behalf.

    1. Here’s an idea: If you want to demonstrate the virtues of frugality, have the government set the example by only taking and spending what it strictly needs – eg, fighting murderers and invaders, not spiritually enlightening the people.

    2. Tucker doesn’t want your money… He advocates for smaller government. He’s just making a moral point, not advocating any government action to tax you to death.

      1. except for those tariffs and stuff

        1. Well Pedo Jeffy, at least he isn’t for letting every sexual predator in from south of the border.

      2. Well, if I once again fell for a “both sides” critique, then I have only my own gullibility to blame – it’s not as Reason writers have been particularly subtle in this approach.

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  20. The best part of a Sanders vs Trump presidential battle is all the policy they are going to agree about on the debate stage.

  21. “Does anyone still believe that better-paying jobs or more deliveries of babies from American wombs are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far.”

  22. I think this is a blatant misrepresentation of Carlson’s logic. It’s not that iPhones don’t make us happier; it’s that they don’t make us fundamentally happy. That’s not really a controversial statement. Human happiness isn’t derived from iPhones or else we would have been miserable for millions of years. There’s more to life than just iPhones and when those higher order needs aren’t met, more iPhones isn’t as useful as a sense of purpose, self worth, etc.

  23. Who the hell do either Bernie Sanders or Tucker Carlson think they are to lecture me on what I think makes me happy?

    If I want your advice I’ll ask for it.

    1. Plenty want their advice. You are hardly obligated to seek it out.

    2. Who the Hell is Pedo Jeffy to lecture anyone on border issues, or much of anything? If I want your advice I’ll ask for it.

      No one here will ask you Pedoi Jeffy. Take a hint.

  24. Sanders pinpointed “consumerism, the futile striving for happiness by earning more and more money to buy more and more things,”

    Remind me; How many homes does he own?

  25. That’s because Marie Kondo is Japanese and undoubtedly infected with the animistic Shinto tradition which believes my red stapler has a spirit in it! Is that what you want for America, TReason?!

  26. Fuck Sanders. I just did Reason a favor in keeping them focused.

    This article gave the excuse to post this gem from the best Rolling Stones album:


  27. Tucker’s take was more along the lines of “where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be” Tolkien wrote “One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters”.

    BTW — iPhones are far from cheap for most of us and if you buy one and use cheap, non-MFi knockoff accessories, you’re not being a good steward of that expensive item.

  28. Tucker thinks pursuing crap at the expense of everything else is dumb

    Bernie thinks the State should limit your options to what Bernie and his comrades think it is appropriate for the proles to have.

    Yeah, those are identical viewpoints.

  29. “Busybody” is one of those old fashioned but absolutely perfect words. Used to be pejorative (I can still hear my mother blasting the neighbors) but the word has lost its power to shame.

  30. Please write more articles.

  31. Exactly.

    Marie Kondo advocates for voluntarism – you choosing whether or not you want something. The State forces you to have or not have something.

  32. Yes, be very afraid. That is why it is a mistake to label political categories “left,” right,” or “center.” In fact, on one end of the spectrum are “rights violators” and on the other “rights protectors” and in between fall some lesser than the extreme violators or protectors on the ends.

  33. Tucker Carlson-statist authoritarian-….who knew?

  34. Wow talk about missing the point. Kondo’s goal is more about dumping the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy. Clutter is produced by keeping things for the wrong reasons. The end result is less stuff, quality not quantity. This Reason penchant for reveling in mass consumerism is weird.

  35. I am extremely fond of all my stuff and am clinging to it tightly. I am aware that some people have big eyes for other people’s stuff. In fact, their thoughts are strangely attracted to reasons why other people should be separated from their stuff.

  36. “Reason” is closely tied to “logic” but the author appears to lack either. Her assertion appears to be “the healthiness of cake is proven by the fact that you stop eating cake once you are full.” Or “somewhere a cockroach saved a man’s life, so fill your life with cockroaches.” How insightful.

    Hopefully the author will read some of these comments and see the dichotomy of acquiring stuff and retaining stuff. The premise of Kondo’s show appears to be to demonstrate how little of what you keep around “sparks joy” and how addressing that one question can remove much of the clutter (i.e. not much of it still sparks you joy). Americans have issues with acquiring things to fill some void in themselves. That’s not a political point — even if a politician says it.

  37. Are people actually hoping to find happiness with their purchase of an iphone or any other gadget?

    Carlson: “Your iphone doesn’t make you happy.”

    Me: “That’s ok. I never expected it to make me happy.”

  38. KMW consistently writes better Libertarian articles than most of the cosmos on this site. I’m looking at you, Welch and Soave.

  39. This illustrates the spiritual vacuity of libertarianism. Buying something is joyful. A deeper, more fulfilling joy lies in giving something. That’s the wisdom of sages through the ages.

  40. I’d be happy if I could buy leaded gas again. The market doesn’t always provide.

    1. The market provides additive.

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  43. Tucker Carlson often speaks like if he was born the other day.

  44. Sure, many do have a lot of stuff. But don’t worry. The Marxists are going to do a big redistribution so that everyone has the same…next to nothing. Having stuff is a personal choice and for many they can’t seem to have enough. That is their problem, not the government’s. Without property rights, we are no better than Venezuela, Cuba, or any other socialist dream world.

  45. An interesting take on Materialism.

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