1. A painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste
2. Inability to understand the consequences of one's actions because of financial privilege
There is a lot to be said about both definitions of affluenza. The national conversation is being fueled by efforts to make the trappings of success so unbecoming that it is worthy of punishment. We are a nation fueled by consumption, so much so that our economy feeds populations all over the world who are dependent on the insatiable appetite of Americans for the good life. It is not just about the rich buying luxury cars and watches, but it is also about middle-class Americans planning to purchase flat panel televisions and leasing new cars.
Are we pushing the envelope too far? Have the societal norms pressured us to one-up the Jones, even when it means we are spending money we do not have, sabotaging our chances of prosperity that comes with patience, savings, and investing?
For me, wanting what others had began with more humble things, like heat and hot water. I thought the kids that lived in the projects were lucky because they had elevators. Later, I set my sights a little higher and began buying Architectural Digest, even though my salary at the time was $13,000 a year before taxes.
I think people should dream big. I have no problem with a rapper talking about private jets, or the woman in a dead-end job hoping that one day she has the chance to call the shots from her vacation in the Mediterranean. America is a nation where people come from all over the world to pursue their dreams. While some would argue the babbles of success are the same as success, I could easily say it was a desire for those babbles that made the dream come true.
On the other side of this dilemma, is the push to give part-time workers more rights and a higher minimum wage. The latest tactic is to promote this as a civil rights issue. This line of reasoning has greater roots in Marxism than in capitalism, and in many ways is insulting to the people working part- time or, for minimum wage. For various reasons, many find themselves working part-time, but it is not a reflection of who they are or where they will be later in life.