Once upon a time, Americans lived in a world of scarcity. Demand outstripped supply. We had to work hard to produce necessities like food and clothing and shelter.
Now we have become too productive. We live in a world of abundance, where there exists more crap for sale than there exists human need.
Demand is so scarce that advertising is a $172B industry in the US. Yeah, US businesses spent $172B last year trying to make people want to buy stuff.
It works. People buy stuff. But in order to buy stuff, they have to create other stuff that nobody needs. Then they have to pay advertisers yet more money to create demand.
It’s a self-inflating cycle. As a result, we live in a world of excess consumption and consumerism and morbid obesity.
There’s a little bakery in Southwest Yonkers, New York, that makes brownies. How useless, right? A business that exists for the sole purpose of enabling gluttony. Gross.
Ben & Jerry’s gets its chocolate fudge brownies from this bakery. Greyston Bakery trains and employs the formerly homeless, incarcerated, or drug-addicted, to help them out of poverty. The bakery’s motto: “We don’t hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people.”
Our industrious society has gotten great at meeting physical needs, but we do little to address higher-level needs. In this world of abundance, there are some things that are still scarce.