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S/o Is conspicuous consumption inherently immoral or unethical?


Ausmumof3
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This is a s/o from the other thread really. I just wonder how people feel about this in general. I know if my family of origin conspicuous display of wealth has always been seen as something to be avoided.

 

I feel that within my religion (Christianity) it's generally seen as something to be avoided - at least as far as the original texts go.

 

Should it be avoided no matter what? Is it possible to avoid it completely?

 

It's all relative of course. The western lifestyle is condemned as decadent frequently by others (whether or not that's based on a realistic estimate of what life is like is something else).

 

For me I tend to have a "give me neither poverty nor wealth" ambition but of course sometimes I have to question whether my ideas of poverty and wealth are realistic when I see how others live.

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You'll have to tell me what conspicuous consumption means.

 

Do you mean owning a car?  Do you mean owning 2 cars when you could conceivably make do with 1 (although it would be a hardship)?  Do you mean owning an expensive car?  How expensive?  Is a new Toyota okay, or only used?  Is a Mercedes okay, but not say a Porsche?  

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Or do you mean not keeping the car in the garage, so other people can see it?  Or owning one that has a flashy color, or taking pictures of yourself in it everywhere and sending them to people, or something?

 

The latter I can definitely see as conspicuous, but it is hard to assign motives.  I see it more as weakness than anything - a need for validation, which some people get by telling others (or demonstrating) how rich they are, and others get by demonstrating how charitable they are, and others by demonstrating how educated they are or how bright their kids are or how right they were about [x] issue.

 

On the other hand, some people post about a favorite charity or their kids' accomplishments or their exciting world travels or their beliefs about [x] (now proven right!) not because they want the validation but because they think these things are just too awesome or important not to share.

Edited by eternalsummer
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I’m of two (or more) minds on this.

 

Environmentally, yes it might be. Some resources are finite, so depending on what constitutes “conspicuous consumptionâ€, there can be ethical or moral concerns.

 

Economically, it keeps the cash flowing. People get paid to work at lavish parties. Could there be different income and survival opportunities for these workers in an ideal world? -probably. But we don’t live in that world, so we work with what we’ve got in this one, KWIM?

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I think the morality of any display like this is the motivation behind it.  I've seen many fellow Christians say, "Rejoice with us! We're going to St. Lucia!" or some such.  That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  It's like it's not enough to have so much more than is necessary in life that now you need to collect people's happiness for you, too?  Real friends will be happy for you if it's important and no one will be as happy as you are anyway, so just chill.  lol  And I'm not convinced that some people posting about extravagances are really interested in "rejoicing" over a "blessing" and actually want to see envy. I've seen people--Christians included (and I mention them because I am a Christian)--post on Facebook about something material they bought or received, saying, "It's OK. You can be jealous."  That's disgusting to me and shows the motives behind sharing it at all.

 

And yet, I think that it's possible to share or display in a way that isn't gross.  LOL  It's not always possible to know someone's motivations and I'm OK with believing the best about them as long as it's not a continual, overdone habit.

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You'll have to tell me what conspicuous consumption means.

 

Do you mean owning a car? Do you mean owning 2 cars when you could conceivably make do with 1 (although it would be a hardship)? Do you mean owning an expensive car? How expensive? Is a new Toyota okay, or only used? Is a Mercedes okay, but not say a Porsche?

I don't really know. Because it's so relative. I mean historically I have to think of say Marie Antoinette and say well clearly the level of consumption became unhealthy. I don't think owning two cars is extravagant but so obviously that's informed by living in a time and place when it's normal. When I was a kid it was somewhat of a luxury.

 

Yet I personally feel that there are examples in history where disparity of consumption became problematic and eventually resulted in social upheaval (French Revolution being the easiest example but there are others). And that from the inside the wealthy people always thought things were absolutely totally fine as they were. Until suddenly they weren't.

 

We had a bible reading of the book of Amos recently. He was a sheep herder who was basically condemning the luxury of the people at the time (ivory couches and bowls of wine) specifically in contrast to those around who were starving. That's what initially got my thought process doing and the other thread just added to that.

 

Hmm... Just because I mentioned bible doesn't mean this has to be a Christian content thread. I'm interested in all perspectives. I believe from what little I know that Buddha went and lives away from the luxury of the palace so I guess this concept crosses cultures and religions.

 

I also often thing of the little women books too and how things worked between them and the wealthy Mr Lawrence. And of course Aunt Josephine.

 

A new car versus old car - well someone has to buy the new cars or there wouldn't be any second hand ones. A fancy car that costs as much as a house. I start feeling judgy. But I'm not sure if that's right. I've been on both sides of this (feeling the need to justify that we had a new car based on pay structure and tax).

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Not to answer a question with a question but....

Is decadence something that is worthy of condemnation?

 

 

 

 

Generally speaking....I tend to find WASTE as....wrong I guess is the word.

 

The problem is that "waste" can be somewhat subjective. And that's where the judgement comes in. What one person considers wasteful might not be the same as what another considers wasteful. To take an example from the other thread....some might consider an ice cream truck on Halloween to be a waste of money. I don't necessarily see it that way. As long as there weren't large amounts of ice cream being tossed in the trash, if that was avoidable, as long as the kids who ate the ice cream enjoyed it, then fine. But if they were spending money on the ice cream truck that should have been paying the mortgage (ie if they couldn't make their payment because of the truck) or if they had been spending whatever they spent on the truck for reasons other than bringing happiness to the kids, that's where I might have a problem.

 

But people who celebrate Halloween, participate in trick or treat, generally speaking, do it for the kids. That's the purpose of trick or treat IMO. So if an ice cream truck is affordable and is serving it's purpose....it's not a waste.

 

I hope that make sense.

 

*eta, waste, in and of itself is, IMO, an rather unavoidable thing. I don't condemn anyone who wastes things, it happens, it's a part of life. But, I think everyone SHOULD work to avoid waste in all forms. I just don't judge people for determining what is actual waste.....if that makes sense.

Waste is one of those funny things.

 

I remember when the home orchards were overloaded one year and I was frantically trying to rescue all the fruit with small bruises etc to be dried. And the reality was that as fast as I could do that more stuff was falling off the tree. It really was more efficient to let that stuff go and just use and do as much as we could with what was there.

 

Another thing. I had a one bite toddler for a while and I'd carefully cut the brown parts out so the rest of the Apple could be used. Then there were these pictures in the paper of apples being fed to cows or pigs because there was such an excess that they did that to keep the prices up. That seems crazy but i guess the farmers gotta get through winter too.

 

Eta re decadence that's my question I guess.

 

There are definitely plenty of philosophers that have discussed it in the past. The Spartans and Athenian philosophies? The stoics etc. Marcus Aurelius. I'm pretty sure I remember some stuff from Confucius.

Edited by Ausmumof3
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I think the morality of any display like this is the motivation behind it. I've seen many fellow Christians say, "Rejoice with us! We're going to St. Lucia!" or some such. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's like it's not enough to have so much more than is necessary in life that now you need to collect people's happiness for you, too? Real friends will be happy for you if it's important and no one will be as happy as you are anyway, so just chill. lol And I'm not convinced that some people posting about extravagances are really interested in "rejoicing" over a "blessing" and actually want to see envy. I've seen people--Christians included (and I mention them because I am a Christian)--post on Facebook about something material they bought or received, saying, "It's OK. You can be jealous." That's disgusting to me and shows the motives behind sharing it at all.

 

And yet, I think that it's possible to share or display in a way that isn't gross. LOL It's not always possible to know someone's motivations and I'm OK with believing the best about them as long as it's not a continual, overdone habit.

This also makes me think of those YouTube videos where people video themselves handing out money to homeless people. Glad they are trying to help but the display seems kind of yuck.

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A fancy car costs as much as an average American house, but a cheap American car costs as much as an average third-world house.  Is it just the physical distance that makes it acceptable?

 

I dunno, I think we've entered a period of globalization in which the very rich in say America are connected to the very poor in say Bangladesh just by the engines of commerce, so maybe we're closer to the social upheaval of the French Revolution than we think.  But we, all Westerners, are Marie Antoinette.

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A fancy car costs as much as an average American house, but a cheap American car costs as much as an average third-world house. Is it just the physical distance that makes it acceptable?

 

I dunno, I think we've entered a period of globalization in which the very rich in say America are connected to the very poor in say Bangladesh just by the engines of commerce, so maybe we're closer to the social upheaval of the French Revolution than we think. But we, all Westerners, are Marie Antoinette.

Yes I have those thoughts as well.

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Conspicuous consumption is done to enhance social prestige. Yes, its immoral, because it is wasteful.

 

The item consumed doesn't have to be expensive. Northface jackets and Uggs for ex.

I don’t understand.

 

Are you saying all “first world†residents/citizens are wasteful and immoral?

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Is it the doing it in front of someone else who cannot that is wrong, then?  Certainly in the US we eat more than we need, so much that we become unhealthy from eating too much, and we eat for pleasure more than for nutrition a lot of the time, but generally we're not eating like this in front of starving children.

 

We do know about the starving children, though.  We eat ourselves sick anyway.

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Conspicuous consumption is done to enhance social prestige. Yes, its immoral, because it is wasteful.

 

The item consumed doesn't have to be expensive. Northface jackets and Uggs for ex.

Northface makes high quality jackets and Uggs are comfy (though I personally find them too hideous to wear despite their comfort). Don’t read into people’s choices unless you KNOW that they are doing it for the negative reason.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Conspicuous consumption is done to enhance social prestige. Yes, its immoral, because it is wasteful.

 

The item consumed doesn't have to be expensive. Northface jackets and Uggs for ex.

I'm not sure if I'm thinking of the same thing. Are uggs, ugg boots? Or only a specific brand. In Aus they are more of a bogan/practical thing than display of wealth. I ask for a pair for Mother's Day each two years because I wear them every day six months of the year in our house which we don't heat unless it's really cold and they stop my knees aching. Unlike the cheap synthetic variety they don't stink and have to be thrown away.

 

But that's why I ask because it's interesting how what seems conspicuous to one person seems normal to another.

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My family of origin encompasses many different religions as well as agnostics and atheists. The general family saying is don’t go to a social event (which includes church mass) “deck like a Christmas tree†unless you are the bride. In general don’t do things with the intention of causing envy. I guess causing envy can be regarded as immoral regardless of religion even for my non-religious relatives.

 

My aunts and cousins run family businesses. My cousins have to chauffeur clients sometimes to business meetings. They drive a Mercedes Benz as a company car for chauffeuring those clients. For their personal driving, they drive a Nissan, Honda or Toyota low end model sedan. Their clients are the kind used to limousine service from airport to hotel and some can be snobs though not all.

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Yes.

 

Maybe in a perfect world where we can make whatever we want with solar-powered nanites that produce no pollution or waste and there's no income inequality it wouldn't be immoral.

 

But in the world we live in now? I do think it's immoral. We have whales literally poisoning their calves to death because there is so much plastic in their bodies and milk from our waste. We have children who are cold and hungry because our government is more concerned with boosting the upper classes than with helping the poor. And on and on and on.

 

If you aren't looking at ways to minimize your consumption, you should definitely examine your morals.

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define conspicuous.

 

are they buying expensive things and people just notice they're driving an expensive car, going on trips, etc?   are they otherwise normal people - who just happen to have a larger discretionary income so they can buy a more expensive car, go on more expensive trips, etc. but can associate with people in different income groups and treat everyone as having "worth"

 

OR

are they buying expensive things because they want to send a message that they're important/have money to spend/can be "the joneses"?  and making snarky comments about those who dont' spend as much as them, implying if you dnt' spend lots - you dont' have "worth"?

 

either way - they are buying products that employ people to produce or provide services.

 

the 2nd ones I'd have concerns about - not about the money, but the attitude that corrupts the soul/character/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.  

 

and for the record - I've known people who were working class who had those attitudes - so it's not confined to "upper income".

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there is a point where it has gone too far.  doing things specifically to say "I'm better than you", is too far.

 

a few weeks ago, a video of robert mugabe''s son was making the rounds.  he was pouring $900 bottle of champagne on a $45,000 rolex.  just 'cause he could.  the next week - the coup was in motion to oust daddy.

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Yes.

 

Maybe in a perfect world where we can make whatever we want with solar-powered nanites that produce no pollution or waste and there's no income inequality it wouldn't be immoral.

 

But in the world we live in now? I do think it's immoral. We have whales literally poisoning their calves to death because there is so much plastic in their bodies and milk from our waste. We have children who are cold and hungry because our government is more concerned with boosting the upper classes than with helping the poor. And on and on and on.

 

If you aren't looking at ways to minimize your consumption, you should definitely examine your morals.

 

What are the limits of this moral requirement?  Is one required to limit personal consumption to the point of average world consumption?

 

If so, we all need to give up a significant portion of the comforts of our Western lives.  At the very least, we shouldn't be eating more than the calories required to maintain a decently healthy body; we also probably shouldn't have cars, or heat our homes any more than is absolutely required to stave off illness, or cool our homes pretty much ever (with air conditioning, anyway), or buy new clothing, or have small electronics, or post for fun on the internet (using electricity we don't need).

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No, I'm saying conspicuous consumption is immoral because it is deliberately wasteful of resources for no other reason than showing off. Wearing North Face for the status enhancement, not for the warmth, for ex. 

 

This I can agree with - but how do you know why someone has bought a certain item?  Why do you buy new clothes ever at all (assuming you do)?  Do you dye your hair?  What is the point of dyeing your hair except showing off?  There's no health benefit.  Do you get haircuts or just lop it off at the bottom?  Why not just lop it off?  Why the fancy haircut (by which I mean paying someone to cut it)?

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No, I'm saying conspicuous consumption is immoral because it is deliberately wasteful of resources for no other reason than showing off. Wearing North Face for the status enhancement, not for the warmth, for ex.

So if I have a North Face jacket and Ugg boots, they’re wasteful? But other, cheaper jackets and boots aren’t? Or is it if I own more than one jacket and pair of boots and one happens to be North Face or Uggs?

 

Who decides if it’s a status enhancement vs. warmth need? What about quality? One higher quality (more expensive) item can outlast several Walmart specials. So is the Walmart special more moral and less wasteful because it costs less?

 

Maybe I’m really dense, but I’m really struggling to understand what you’re saying, exactly.

Edited by fraidycat
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What are the limits of this moral requirement? Is one required to limit personal consumption to the point of average world consumption?

 

If so, we all need to give up a significant portion of the comforts of our Western lives. At the very least, we shouldn't be eating more than the calories required to maintain a decently healthy body; we also probably shouldn't have cars, or heat our homes any more than is absolutely required to stave off illness, or cool our homes pretty much ever (with air conditioning, anyway), or buy new clothing, or have small electronics, or post for fun on the internet (using electricity we don't need).

Well air conditioning is a survival thing where I live. People literally die of heat and heat related illnesses. Prior to air con babies died during heat waves. Heating is less essential.

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there is a point where it has gone too far. doing things specifically to say "I'm better than you", is too far.

 

a few weeks ago, a video of robert mugabe''s son was making the rounds. he was pouring $900 bottle of champagne on a $45,000 rolex. just 'cause he could. the next week - the coup was in motion to oust daddy.

I guess part of my question is how do people know when it's too far? I mean he obviously didn't realise things had gone far last week. Now he does? Is there some kind of warning sign?

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I guess part of my question is how do people know when it's too far? I mean he obviously didn't realise things had gone far last week. Now he does? Is there some kind of warning sign?

 

in Mugabe's case, I'm sure things had been going too far for decades.  (there's a reason his wife is called 'Gucci grace".)  people finally had enough.

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Well air conditioning is a survival thing where I live. People literally die of heat and heat related illnesses. Prior to air con babies died during heat waves. Heating is less essential.

 

Ah, true enough!  where I live heating is essentially but air conditioning is largely a matter of comfort.  Maybe you'd lose a few old people a year during a heat wave in some of the places I've lived before (not as hot as Australia, to be sure), but I am not sure if even that is something we can demand as non-conspicuous consumption if we're talking about evening things out throughout the world as a matter of moral fairness.  

 

In fact, a lot of the resources we spend keeping old people and medically fragile people alive are probably a form of conspicuous consumption.  Certainly our use of doctors and nurses and CNAs from the second and third world (they immigrate to the USA to take care of our sick and elderly instead of caring for their own sick and elderly because we can and do pay them so much more) is conspicuous consumption in worldwide-relative terms.

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Who decides if it’s a status enhancement vs. warmth need?

My friend’s husband tells us he buys North Face because he wants people to know he can afford to. Which is weird because we can find affordable North Face easily at Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack as well as at the North Face Outlet store. It’s like if someone tells us they buy a Burberry peacoat because they want people to know they could afford to pay for one. No guessing of intention needed.

 

I know people who wear Gorski parkas/coats but they don’t go round telling people the price tag of their parkas.

 

I have destroyed plenty of UGG boots and a UGG handbag which I bought from Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. I destroy boots regardless of brands.

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Being private about private decisions feels right to me.  However, I don't believe extra steps should be taken to hide things just because not everyone can have that.

 

In person, I'm a really simple person.  I dress like I did when I was a poor kid in high school.  I drive a practical sedan.  But, I will spend on things I really want to do.  I don't advertise this from the housetop, but I don't hide it either.

 

I think I gave up the humility contest when I was maybe 30 and my brother heard I was doing something (probably a travel trip) and said, "ohh, it must be nice." (Sarcastically.)  I was expected to make excuses or something.  Instead I responded, yeah, it is nice.  I went for years working multiple jobs and hardly spending a discretionary penny as I paid off my student loans.  (I still worked multiple jobs until after my kids were adopted.)  What is the point of doing that if you aren't supposed to spend anything ever?  And why is it anyone else's business to judge anyway?

 

I wouldn't have a fancy car or similar, because I am not into that.  But if someone really likes those cars and decides to buy one for that reason, more power to them.  If they are doing it just to prove they are richer than others, not so great, but how do I know what motivates the guy driving the fancy car?  In my personal experience, people don't buy to show up people.  What I have seen is people feeling like they have to buy in a certain neighborhood or whatever because that is the standard set by their professional colleagues.  I have bucked that trend, but I got a lot of disrespect for it.  It probably affected my career potential.  So while I am not a fan of that kind of buying behavior, I can understand it and I feel more sorry for the folks than judgmental toward them.  That kind of purchase (with a big mortgage) handcuffs them (and their spouse / kids) to their job/career and vice versa, even though it may not make them happy.

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To me, the questions that would need answering are many.

 

Why should we consume ?

 

What natural limits are there on our consumption ?

 

Are there consequences to our consumption for others, now or in the future ? Are those consequences good, bad or indifferent ?

 

The ethics of consumption are really not related to whether it occurs conspicuously or not, I suppose. One could consume enormous resources, very quietly and privately, and there may still be negative consequences to others.

These are very insightful/helpful questions.

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Well, we're in agreement there - I do think a correction is coming soon, and that it will be as violent an upheaval as our centralization and dependency and consumption have been extravagant (that is to say, very violent).    I suppose I could be convinced to see it in moral terms - certainly I see what you might call equivalent extravagant and destabilizing social behavior in moral terms, and I don't think it's inextricable from economic extravagance (a la The Downside of Liberty http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/opinion/the-downside-of-liberty.html).

 

I guess I see people's personal involvement in over-consumption in much the same way I see their participation in what I believe are destabilising/immoral social practices: their intentions are usually not bad, just naturally selfish, and ascribing them intentions beyond selfishness (which we all have, imo) is pointless.  Most people aren't made to think critically and examine and change their behavior; they're meant to follow along with social norms - it's just that occasionally, social norms get out of whack for a while until there is a correction back to (what I view as) conservative social and economic values.  (note that when I say conservative I am not talking about the political term).

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i suppose the question though is...does consumption = waste?

 

My DD7 consumes milk as if it were going out of style. If I allowed it she could probably keep the entire dairy industry of the us (not to mention the plastic industry that packages the milk) in business.

 

 

She has an ASD diagnosis. Feeding issues are a HUGE factor in that. A factor requiring therapy. She doesn’t consume a single vegetable, unless you count pizza sauce and whatever else I can hide. The only fresh produce she willingly consumes is banana. Yet, blood tests show she is not deficient in any nutrients. I suspect that is due at least in part to the amount of milk she consumes.

 

So when I roll up to the grocery check out with FIVE gallons of milk, is that being wasteful? Is it immoral? I promise there is not a drop of mil that gets poured down the drain in our house. But every single gallon is packaged in plastic and they get pitched. And, five gallons of milk certainly seems excessive.

 

But the milk IS getting consumed. And if I could make the packaging not plastic I would, but I also can’t afford to waste money on glass either.

I once thought about getting a dairy cow till I discovered they make 20L per day. What the heck would we do with all the excess?!

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Yes, I agree that the key to morality is the sacrifice of the interests of self in favor of the other or the group (depending on circumstance).  I think maybe I've just given up on most people as being moral creatures (or immoral, I guess - amoral might be a better word).  That sounds horribly snobbish and cynical, I guess.  I am kind of snobbish and cynical, though.

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Is using a dryer allowed?  Is using cleaning products at all where just water would do allowed?  Can I use paper towels or do I have to use reusable cloth paper towels (I know a lady who makes great ones if anyone is in the market, btw)?  Are disposable diapers wasteful to the point of immorality?  If I do have to use cloth diapers, do I have to use used ones, or a particular fiber?  If I have to use a particular fiber of cloth diaper, how can I wash and dry it in a way that is acceptably non-wasteful?

 

FWIW, I use those disposable swiffer things to mop (well, my kids use them).  I had the reusable ones for a while but the floors didn't get as clean, and I have a thing about clean floors.  I do use cloth diapers before they start on solids, but I also use a dryer.  I don't, however, own a car that fits all members of our family (although we have reproduced 6 times - is that allowed?  what is the limit?); we don't use small electronics or big ones, really, except two work computers; I don't eat factory-farmed animal products, ever, at all.

 

I dunno, just wondering what the exact requirements are, since one-time-use cleaning products are not allowed :)

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This is a s/o from the other thread really. I just wonder how people feel about this in general. I know if my family of origin conspicuous display of wealth has always been seen as something to be avoided.

 

I feel that within my religion (Christianity) it's generally seen as something to be avoided - at least as far as the original texts go.

 

Should it be avoided no matter what? Is it possible to avoid it completely?

 

It's all relative of course. The western lifestyle is condemned as decadent frequently by others (whether or not that's based on a realistic estimate of what life is like is something else).

 

For me I tend to have a "give me neither poverty nor wealth" ambition but of course sometimes I have to question whether my ideas of poverty and wealth are realistic when I see how others live.

 

I don't see a problem with having money or using it like taking nice vacations or buying new cars. Those who can afford it without going into debt may do so. I don't see anything in this that goes against biblical commandments. Those that have the means and are Christians (or other faiths) frequently put their resources to good use in form of donations to those who need it - individually perhaps and to organizations. 

 

If someone voices an attitude that people with fewer resources are of "lesser value" then we have a problem IMHO.

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I don't think making a virtue of deprivation is healthy.

 

Like - Like - Like - at least this way I am not running out of "likes."

 

This is a good point. There are those in some circles that think this kind of martyrdom stems from humility but I don't think so. True humility is something else.

Edited by Liz CA
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I read about this too, but then again a lot of the waste of cloth must be water plus energy, and when energy is (potentially) unlimited in the future, via solar (I feel like that has to be the way forward) and water is essentially unlimited in some places (though scarce in others), but disposables really don't disintegrate for like forever, I feel like the balance tilts toward cloth.  That said, I don't use cloth once it's yuckier.  I dunno.  

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I didn't have a car for a while (we gave ours away, long story) and while it was a massive PITA for things like handbell choir and parent-teacher conferences, boy did I get a lot more exercise.  I was healthier then, and when we were poor earlier in life and living on beans and rice, than I am with a car or eating for pleasure.

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The lines are always going to vary with subjective definitions.  *MY* struggle is with the availability of inexpensive (subjective) goods and the human and environmental costs (both objective and subjective) of getting them to me. 

 

When I spend $19.99 to put a smile on my child's face, am I helping another family to feed their child, or am I supporting a system of keeping children in poverty, here or in a distant country?

 

I'm very much aware of the environmental impact of disposable water bottles, and yet I am a heavy offender.

 

When I hit up Amazon, do I go for the cheapest character item, or do I do my due diligence to avoid feeding the knock off market?  Well, I've committed to respecting intellectual property, so my kids are getting very few character items this year based on my budget.  Not that they NEED any to begin with, but at least we won't be stealing someone's work.  Still, knowing that even the originals are almost definitely being made in some foreign country without fair wages or reasonable working conditions weighs on me.  And yet I placed my order.

 

The idea of building a "look at me" palace out of responsibly sourced materials with well-paid workers doesn't bother me nearly as much as my participation in collecting all of the evolutions of Eevee.  :toetap05:

 

 

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I think it's ok to consume things you can afford, no matter what your income level.

 

I don't think it's ok to consume and brag about it. If you are doing YouTube videos of yourself trashing items rather than using (pouring bottles of champagne on watches) then that is a problem. If your family has a special celebration and serves good champagne at the party, then I don't see any reason to object.

 

I have friends with very high incomes. They don't find a way to show off new things or activities. It's just how they live. It doesn't bother me when I see they have a new car. They use their stuff. They don't buy a new car and purposely trash it even though they can.

 

I don't think a brand is necessarily a mark of consumption. If it's a good quality and gets used I'm not sure what the argument is.

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This all comes down to "judge not".  We can only judge our own motivations for our spending.  

 

Some people probably do buy "Brand Cool" because it's cool.  But many people buy it because it will last for 15 years, the production line is transparent and involves reasonable wages for laborers, etc.  Buying a cheaper knock-off often times involves very questionable production methods/labor, and very poor quality.  

 

Are there people who buy a new winter coat every year to have the newest silhouette and style?  Probably.  I don't personally know anyone who does that, though.  

 

 

As a general guideline, it's pretty clear if people are being flashy to show off wealth or buying quality because they can afford quality.  Quibbling over whether or not heat/AC is warranted, Ugg boots are wasteful, etc, is pointless.  It depends on the person, it depends on the motive, so our best move is to keep our eyes to our own behavior.  

 

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I think it's ok to consume things you can afford, no matter what your income level.

 

I don't think it's ok to consume and brag about it. If you are doing YouTube videos of yourself trashing items rather than using (pouring bottles of champagne on watches) then that is a problem. If your family has a special celebration and serves good champagne at the party, then I don't see any reason to object.

 

I have friends with very high incomes. They don't find a way to show off new things or activities. It's just how they live. It doesn't bother me when I see they have a new car. They use their stuff. They don't buy a new car and purposely trash it even though they can.

 

I don't think a brand is necessarily a mark of consumption. If it's a good quality and gets used I'm not sure what the argument is.

Yes. I know wealthy people who if anything seem a little embarrassed by their wealth or ashamed of it. Or like they have to justify it somehow. These are really kind decent in no way showy.

 

Maybe I should have phrased it "intentionally conspicuous consumption".

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Hmmm stoicism or penance seem a bit unhealthy to me. But so does overindulgence. There must be a healthy middle ground somewhere.

 

 

From a Christian perspective, let's remember that Christ turned water to wine for a celebration.  Perhaps he should have changed it into sandwiches for people not invited to the wedding?  What was he doing here?  I think it's fair to say that happiness and celebration are meant to be parts of our earthly life.  There is a zone between deprivation and overindulgence and where we fall in that zone becomes a personal conscience decision.  

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This all comes down to "judge not". We can only judge our own motivations for our spending.

 

Some people probably do buy "Brand Cool" because it's cool. But many people buy it because it will last for 15 years, the production line is transparent and involves reasonable wages for laborers, etc. Buying a cheaper knock-off often times involves very questionable production methods/labor, and very poor quality.

 

Are there people who buy a new winter coat every year to have the newest silhouette and style? Probably. I don't personally know anyone who does that, though.

 

 

As a general guideline, it's pretty clear if people are being flashy to show off wealth or buying quality because they can afford quality. Quibbling over whether or not heat/AC is warranted, Ugg boots are wasteful, etc, is pointless. It depends on the person, it depends on the motive, so our best move is to keep our eyes to our own behavior.

To be honest "our own behaviour" is one reason I ask. Over time I've realised some stuff I take for granted is extravagant to other people. Like idk say pet ownership. I feel bad to say I never realised how hard it can be to own a pet if you are renting or low income. Ugg boots was a new one to me. I'm not going to quit wearing ugg boots because I do it for practical reasons but I might be slightly more hesitant to share if someone asked about my Mother's Day gift.

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From a Christian perspective, let's remember that Christ turned water to wine for a celebration. Perhaps he should have changed it into sandwiches for people not invited to the wedding? What was he doing here? I think it's fair to say that happiness and celebration are meant to be parts of our earthly life. There is a zone between deprivation and overindulgence and where we fall in that zone becomes a personal conscience decision.

True. He also said "woe to you rich for you already have your reward". As a general rule o think he came down quite harshly on the wealthy though obviously he had some wealthy friends like Joseph or Arimithea and Nicodemus. Not that that necessarily means it was about all wealth, but the behaviour of those who were wealthy in his day.

 

There is also 1 Cor 11 that talks about them at the Lord's Supper "humiliating those who have not" (suggests that they should eat at home to avoid the situation where some have plenty and others go hungry together).

 

So I guess that although there are good wealthy people (Abraham, Boaz) this is offset by lots about the pitfalls of wealth.

 

Sorry again not to make it a Christian thread just explaining where I'm coming from with my belief that generally overly conspicuous consumption isn't a Christian value.

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The lines are always going to vary with subjective definitions. *MY* struggle is with the availability of inexpensive (subjective) goods and the human and environmental costs (both objective and subjective) of getting them to me.

 

When I spend $19.99 to put a smile on my child's face, am I helping another family to feed their child, or am I supporting a system of keeping children in poverty, here or in a distant country?

 

I'm very much aware of the environmental impact of disposable water bottles, and yet I am a heavy offender.

 

When I hit up Amazon, do I go for the cheapest character item, or do I do my due diligence to avoid feeding the knock off market? Well, I've committed to respecting intellectual property, so my kids are getting very few character items this year based on my budget. Not that they NEED any to begin with, but at least we won't be stealing someone's work. Still, knowing that even the originals are almost definitely being made in some foreign country without fair wages or reasonable working conditions weighs on me. And yet I placed my order.

 

The idea of building a "look at me" palace out of responsibly sourced materials with well-paid workers doesn't bother me nearly as much as my participation in collecting all of the evolutions of Eevee. :toetap05:

Yes true. There's some things that actually cost me nothing but still seem somehow indulgent. Like being able to borrow almost any book I want through our amazing library system. Kids books, even picture books, shipped from libraries all around the state! I'm torn between glee and feeling like somehow it's a bit extravagant. Or grocery delivery when it's free or low cost. Having someone else deliver groceries to my bench. And yes the number of clothes and books and toys that my kids have feels obscene even though so many of them were handed or given to us not stuff we've bought.

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I always thought Christianity was pretty direct about opposing conspicuous wealth, at least, if not also consumption: It's easier for a camel to go through a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven, etc.

 

You would think.  But with all the country club churches around here, the lines seem to get very fuzzy.

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