CHAPTER 12

An ounce of prevention

The fear of affluenza, though never identified as such, has been part of the American tradition since colonists arrived here from Europe. It was a mixed bunch that risked life and livelihood to cross the Atlantic on small wooden ships. The first came seeking riches. The Spanish wanted gold; the French, furs. The Dutch sought new trade routes to the fabled Indies.

But among the early arrivals from England were refugees seeking to escape what they had come to view as a godless materialism rapidly taking root in Europe. “When the Puritans arrived in the New World, one of their major premises was their desire to try to create a Christian commonwealth that practiced simple living,” explains the historian David Shi. ...

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