Making money cannot be an end in itself - at least for anyone not suffering from acute mental disorder. To say that my purpose in life is to make more and more money is like saying that my aim in eating is to get fatter and fatter. And what is true of individuals is also true of societies. Making money cannot be the permanent business of humanity, for the simple reason that there is nothing to do with money except spend it. And we cannot just go on spending. There will come a point when we will be satiated or disgusted or both. Or will we?"
- Edward and Robert Skidelsky in "How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life" (2012)
Some of my own thoughts on the subject:
What happens after you have a lot of nice things already? Do you just want bigger, faster, or shinier nice things? Our economy does not simply work without consumption. However, just maybe we do not need more of the same, but just smarter consumption. Perhaps we do not need more cheaply mass-produced things from faraway countries. Perhaps we need more consumption of local services and things made by local producers.
When this happens our money will create more well-being in our own neighborhood. Then it will not just add the profits of the multinational conglomerates. These all too often often destroy the environment and exploit defenseless workforce in faraway countries.
I think that at this point I need to mention that I gave my own car away last winter. This did happen when I was not able to drive a car because of my then current serious illness. I did not think that I would not need a car anymore as I was promised just a few days to live at the darkest point. However, I did recover against all odds. With time, I found out that I will need a car again to get around. The more so as I was still too weak to walk to the nearest bus stop a kilometer away.
However, because of my illness, my economy was in bad shape and I could not even borrow much money for a new car. Therefore, I just had to find the cheapest car in town that would be of least trouble. I found a 10-year old little 1.0-liter odd-looking and the odd-colored thing, but which was in an extremely good shape for its age.
Now I have a much smaller, less powerful and overall much less macho car than its predecessor was. However, I am extremely happy with it. My new car is really snappy, has good proportion and uses much less gasoline than the old one. Overall, it is a colorful and bright little thing. I just love it more day by day, when the old much more mainstream vehicle did not give me any such emotional feedback.
The moral of the story is that you do not always need faster, shinier, and more macho things to be happier. One needs stuff that does really fulfill one's current needs. The things that fill them just might be slower, less shiny and less macho...
We have used our unprecedented freedoms … not to agitate for justice, for redistribution, for the defense of our common interests, but to pursue the dopamine hits triggered by the purchase of products we do not need."
- George Monbiot