2. The 30-Year American Consumption Binge

As we begin this chapter, first consider the following pieces of wisdom:

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man, rely upon it; “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith.”

—Benjamin Franklin

“Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty.”


“In time we hate that which we fear.”

—William Shakespeare

To understand why American consumers discarded prudence and embraced greed for a glutinous ...

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