October 25, 2010

VIRGINIA POSTREL: Abundance and Economic Resilience.

Americans have a lot of stuff—so much, in fact, that getting it under control has become a major cultural fantasy. Witness the Container Store, whose aisles of closet systems and colorful boxes peddle dreams as seductive as any fashion shoot. Or consider shows like “Clean House,” on the Style Network, where hosts cajole, browbeat and bribe homeowners into getting rid of half their things and organizing the rest. . . . In today’s sour economy, however, what once seemed like waste is starting to look like wealth: assets to draw on when times get tough (and not just because of all those ads promising top dollar for your gold jewelry). Material abundance, it turns out, produces economic resilience. Even if today’s recession approached Great Depression levels of unemployment, the hardship wouldn’t be as severe, because today’s consumers aren’t living as close to the edge.

That’s right.

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