This content is part of a series.
Surviving the Influence of Affluence (3 of 4)
Series: The Difference A Dime Makes
Creative Element: "The Offering"
Christopher Winans, in his book, Malcolm Forbes: The Man Who Had Everything, tells of a motorcycle tour that Forbes took through Egypt in 1984 with his Capitalist Tool motorcycle team. After viewing the magnificent burial tomb of King Tut, Forbes was in a reflective mood. As they were returning to the hotel in a shuttle bus, Forbes turned to one of his associates and asked with all sincerity: "Do you think I'll be remembered after I die?"
We do remember Malcom Forbes, years after his death. Partly for the magazine named after him, but perhaps more because he is the man who coined the phrase, "He who dies with the most toys wins." That was his ambition. That's why he collected scores of motorcycles. That's why he would pay over a million dollars for a Fabergé crystal egg. That's why he owned castles, hot air balloons and countless other toys that he can no longer enjoy from the grave.
Malcom Forbes suffered from a fatal infection of the dread disease, affluenza.
Af-flu-enza: n. 1. A dysfunctional relationship with wealth or money; this malady can strike anyone, regardless of economic level; 2. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 3. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 4. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. (from the 1996 PBS special, "Affluenza")
Yet another definition is "the incessant need to spend money we don't have on things we don't need to impress people we don't even like."
My friend Dave Hansen says "Life today is defined, not by having, but by having to have."
In her book, The Psychology of Affluence, Jessie O'Neil coined the phrase, "Golden Ghetto" to describe communities like ours. She says, "The Golden Ghetto is ...
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