ALMOST FREE: Glenn Reynolds writes:
Already, ownership of fancy goods is less a mark of social status than it used to be. Huge wide-screen TVs are, in my part of the world at least, associated as much with trailer parks as with wealth. (“You never see a double-wide without at least a 50-inch TV,” a salesman told me. A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but a common view). Fancy watches, now no more accurate than the cheap ones, are a mark of pretension, not status. And services — scorned as unproductive in the day of Adam Smith — are now moving up the ladder. Massage therapy and restaurant meals are comparatively high-margin growth businesses, while television sellers are fighting things out in a market where prices are plummeting. Plumbers and cleaning services, meanwhile, are doing well.
A glimpse of the future? I suspect so.
Me too. As Tom Wolfe wrote a few years ago, we are “fulfilling Saint-Simon’s and the other nineteenth-century utopian socialists’ dreams of a day when the ordinary workingman would have the political and personal freedom, the free time and the wherewithal to express himself in any way he saw fit and to unleash his full potential”.