Thursday, November 26, 2009

Affluenza - A Material World Indeed

Perhaps living simply, like the Tibetan lamas in the photo above is the cure for our material wants. Picture courtesy of

The following is a quiz that I took at this website - - which gauges one's level of "affluenza," which is essentially the habit of spending often and loving material objects.

The Quiz:

1. I'm willing to pay more for a t-shirt if it has a cool corporate logo on it.
2. I believe that if I buy the cocktail dress, the cocktail party will come.
False, but that's because I am a man, and don't wear dresses, but usually I do wear whatever I already own to a party.
3. I have a shoe collection Imelda Marcos would envy.
4. When I'm cold, I take my clothes off and turn up the heat.

False, though in Florida it's the opposite.
5. I'm willing to work 40 years at a job I hate so I can buy lots of stuff.
False, I would rather work at my current job throwing luggage and making $10 an hour than do a job I don't like, however, I do want to make more money at a job I'll enjoy!
6. When I'm feeling blue, I like to go shopping and treat myself.
7. I want a sports utility vehicle, although I rarely drive in conditions that warrant one.
False, I never want an SUV!
8. I usually make just the minimum payment on my credit cards.
9. I believe that whoever dies with the most toys wins.
10. Most of the things my friends/family and I enjoy doing together are free.
11. I don't measure my self-worth (or that of others) by what I own.
12. I know how to pinch a dollar until it screams.
13. I worry about the effects of advertising on children.
True, honestly!
14. To get to work, I carpool, ride my bike or use public transportation.
15. I'd rather be shopping right now.


How was it scored?

For questions 1-9 and 15, give yourself 2 points for true and 1 point for false.
For questions 10-14, give yourself 0 points for true and 2 points for false.

How did I do?

I scored 13!

What does the website have to say about that...

If you scored:

10-15 No dangerous signs of Affluenza at this time. Watch Affluenza to help build immunity.

16-22 Warning: You have mild Affluenza. Watch Affluenza to help prevent a full-blown case, and see our handy tips for squishing the Affluenza bug.

23-30 Cut up your credit cards and call a doctor! Memorize our list of bug-beating tips. Watch Affluenza, and then watch it again.

...So I did pretty well. I answered honestly and I really do conserve my money, reuse things when possible, and don't like to buy new things very often. I like to SAVE MONEY! In fact if anything, I would say that I save to a ridiculous degree, but I do put down a lot of money every once in a while for something I really want.

Here is a link to the "Affluenza" video that was watched in the course - Watching it a second time, there were several things that caught my attention. For one, the film said that by 1987 there were more shopping malls than high schools in America. Also, it showed some really unethical marketing tactics being used to target children; including selling food at schools that kids are warned against in their health classes! "In ninety percent of divorce cases, arguments over money play a predominant role," the film also states. The documentary talks about how less money is saved in the United States today than in many other developed countries. I, however, save more than the 4%, which is our current level (though I recall from economics class that this number can change based on general economic conditions). These are all bad signs of the role of money in our society. It was mentioned in the film that Roosevelt foretold that unbridled capitalism would corrupt society. Some solutions they have for "affluenza" are the "buy nothing day," which was actually on 11/29 (I think I bought a bottled water from a vending machine though). The book Your Money or Your Life was recommended. Living in "co-families" - two families sharing a house - was also suggested, but that sounds like a stretch. I'm fine with roommates, but I guess I'd have to try the co-family situation in order to understand it.

Also there is this site which discusses this silly, yet serious disorder - On this site, 10 methods for reducing spending habits are discussed. I agree with all of them for the most part. I have never read and probably will never read the book they suggest, but I have read other books on money management such as Jim Cramer's Stay Mad for Life, which I found very helpful and believe that everybody should read such a book. Considering that my dad's primary hobby is fine-tuning his big screen projector and 61" TV system, throwing out the TV seems like a problem for me! Though I almost always am doing something else while watching TV. As for not having children, I think this website is really being absurd. I mean, if you're stupid enough to take this web site's advice on that, then maybe you're too stupid to have children, but I for one think that is an insane suggestion, and I intend to have children someday. Although I do believe people probably should be financially secure when having children, and should not have too many kids.

One final comment, and this has been a topic of discussion since the first field trip, and in the "Affluenza" film, but I have recently fine-tuned it - living a simple life. I have lived quite simply, but not in the right way. I thought that in order to save money that I would have to buy some moderately junky food. I also had a gym membership for a while. Starting about a month ago, I changed all of that. I started doing body-weight exercises, which are essentially as good as weightlifting at a gym, and it's saving me $40 a month! I have also adopted different eating habits. I thought that fruit and other healthy foods were too expensive, and apparently others my age think similarly. However, I have found that I can still shop around and get nutritional, sustainable foods for as much as I was spending. I'm eating organic foods over the garbage I used to eat. And fruit used to be nonexistent in my diet, now I eat at least four a day! I feel completely different! Truly, tribal peoples with no material objects, who live off of the natural crops and animals of the land, live better than the average American! That is the cure for "affluenza"!

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