The Consumption of Wealth

The Consumption of Wealth

The Consumption of Wealth

The Consumption of Wealth

Excerpt

For the ordinary man or woman consumption is the most significant part of economics. We are all consumers and we are consumers every day of our lives. All of us want to get more out of life, and it is through our choices of goods and services that we improve our living standards.

The following chapters seek an answer to four questions. What is the psychology by which our wants arise? What influences are acting on our choices all the time, unrecognized by us? How and to what extent can we control our wants for our welfare? And, finally, just what goods and services do we consume in the United States and how do our choices compare with the choices made by other peoples? Perhaps the newest aspect of the following pages is the discussion of our limitations in acquiring new interests, and the discussion of the culture-idea as determining for a people what they consider worth consuming.

Home economics and euthenics are asking science what it has to give to the everyday life of ordinary normal people. These "homelier" applications of science, however, have always come late. Consumption, in particular, has been too commonplace to excite curiosity. The man speculates about the comet and the whirlwind, but not about the course of life in his own village. The child wonders about the frog and the spider, but not about its bread and milk. We are all of us more or less like the old ploughman who remarked on his deathbed: " Look at the sky! I never noticed that it was so blue."

Even in economics, such discussions as there are under the name of consumption turn out frequently to be discussions of some other part of economics in which consumers are inter-

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