Of course, the middle class in the United States—those making less than $200,000 a year—are not much less vulnerable during an economic downturn like this one. Many of these Americans, buying into the consumptive mentality that drives our society, have taken on an enormous amount of debt since the 1970s, have virtually no savings, and have seen the equity in their homes plummet like a middle-aged man’s saggy midsection.
Since 70 % of the American economy is consumption driven, the prophets of mass consumerism—led by its head cheerleader, George Bush—have told us time and again to do our patriotic duty and spend, spend, spend. In the past, Americans have duly submitted to this philosophy using easily attainable credit to buy tons of stuff they really didn’t need.
But now the hens have come home to roost. Personal and national debt is the highest it has been since World War II and banks are tightening up on the loans they make. Furthermore, unemployment levels have been increasing and middle class wages have been fairly stagnant at the same time that inflation seems to be on rise. And yet, despite all this Americans continue to drive themselves further into debt through their endless consumption.
The solution to our economic crisis is not to consume more, but to consume less. To live simpler, more ecologically sustainable lives. Americans would certainly benefit if they adopted some of the basic principles of the voluntary simplicity movement...most notably the recognition that human happiness can not be attained through ever-increasing levels of consumption
Of course, if we suddenly stop our mindless consumption, this will make Wall Street and the White House extremely unhappy. But that’s their problem. The job of each individual during an economic meltdown, such as the one that is inevitably coming, is to get his or her own house in order by reducing consumption and increasing savings.
Fortunately, the Voluntary Simplicity movement has a number of web sites available to help overspent and overworked Americans live simpler and more fiscally responsible lives. Here are two of the most popular of these sites:
The Simple Living Network
The Simplicity Resource Guide