The Challenge Of Affluence


“In affluent societies, the doctrines of economics tend to be aligned with the interests of the powerful. The competition that economists extol is one which the educated, the wealthy, the powerful, are already well placed to win. It strives to exact the greatest efforts from the weakest, to dismantle their securities and defences. In a rich society, the virtue of efficiency appears to be overrated, and also miscalculated. When the benefits of growth are added up, the costs to the losers are often invisible. The winners’ prizes are often disproportionate to the efforts invested, and their social value is often questionable: enormous resources are staked and won to secure positional power.”

Avner Offer.

The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950

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3 responses to “The Challenge Of Affluence

  1. Although I am no where as knowledegable on this topic as Mr. Offer, I can at least offer my agreement with the gist of his comments. The powerful and the rich control the game. The little guy’s at a disadvantage.

  2. The following anecdote illustrates the value of being the one to make the rules.
    Joe’s neighbor Bob saw a duck flying by and shot it out of the sky with his shotgun. However, the duck landed in Joe’s yard. When Bob came into Joe’s yard to retrieve the duck Joe objected stating that the duck should rightfully be his because it rested on his land. Bob reasoned that the duck should be his because he was the one who shot it. To resolve the disagreement Joe suggested that they have a contest and the winner would get the duck. Joe suggested that they have a crotch-kicking contest and the last man standing would win – and because the duck was on his land Joe felt that he should kick first. Well Joe was a little guy and Bob was a hulk of a man so Bob didn’t think that he had any reason to fear Joe’s wimpy kick. Besides it wouldn’t be fair to kick Joe into the next county before he even had a chance to play. So Bob agreed to let Joe go first. Bob stood there with his hands behind his back and told Joe to give his best shot because it would be the only chance he’d have. Well Joe may have been small but he was an accomplished footballer and had plenty of practice kicking balls. So he took a running start and delivered a solid wallop dead center on target. Bob who had been bravely standing there hoping for the best was obviously surprised by the force and accuracy of Joe’s kick for his expression instantly changed from a blank stare to one of excruciating pain. Bob bent over, grabbed his crotch and fell to the ground rolling around and moaning loudly. This went on for about 10 minutes. Finally Bob’s pain subsided sufficiently to permit him to slowly struggle to his feet at which point he said, “Ok Joe, you son-of-a-bitch it’s my turn! I’m going to send you to the moon!” At this point Joe decided to change the rules. He announced to Bob, “You know Bob I don’t really like duck anyway. You win. You can have it.”

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