I was thinking about our discussion last week about our job worries coupled with the recession, and how this exact same feeling probably occurred to our parents. The only difference between then and now, I think, is our consumer culture.
This thought came to me when I was remembering the consumer history course I took at Northeastern. Gary Cross’ “An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America” was my first introduction to the saying “keeping up with the Trumps.” What we want and need to buy has changed significantly in the past fifty years. On television various personalities whiz by showing off new purses, shoes, video games, clothing, cars, &c. Magazines tell us that $500 high-heeled shoes are must-haves, not to mention inexpensive (WHAT?). Our attempts to keep up with the Joneses, has, in effect, turned into keeping up with the Trumps.
The simple fact of the matter is that we’re not millionaires…yet. There’s no telling what will happen, but quite honestly there was never a time when a person graduated from school to earn all the money they wanted. As I panicked the other day at the lack of jobs, I remembered the story my mother used to tell me – when she graduated in 1972, there was not a teaching job to be found, so she and my father moved up to Burlington, Vermont and lived in a trailer, made their own clothes, and grew their own vegetables and baked their own bread. Yes, this was in the 1970s, but I think the point is that we all start out somewhere. I simply have to accept the fact that I will not be able to afford the 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I’ve always wanted until a long while from now. And that’s okay.