21 January, 2008

I Know What I Want, and I Want it Now

Tim over at Old World Swine hasa wonderful post on the artless nature of disposable crap. He makes some good points that many people ignore in our short-sighted culture. There is an effective, yet forgotten virtue known as generational building that is in danger of following the Dodo into oblivion.

Quality is expensive, which is exactly why quality should be attained over time, or even generations. Even if I can't afford to build an entire solid masonry house with a lifespan of hundreds of years for the grandchildren of my grandchildren, I could possibly build a good foundation now. Maybe throw up some cheap studs for a room or two. Next year I could replace a couple of walls with masonry. Maybe five or ten years down the road I can put a slate roof on it. Maybe after 50 years of this type of effort I could have a house that will easily stand for 500 years or more. Is it worth it? Probably not, I'll just go and buy the bargain basement starter home with the 20-30 year lifespan and move up the housing ladder as necessary. The grandkids will be fine...


Tim J. said...

Thanks for the nod, Matt. One aspect of the ugly/disposable culture that I didn't even touch on is the environmental impact. Ugly disposable stuff is destined for the landfill, or for this Texas-sized island of floating trash out in the Pacific that I keep hearing about.

I think it's probably a moral duty to find a way to quit doing this, to stop making and buying what is essentially trash. Local products, less packaging, better quality... I know I'm preaching to the choir, here.

There are probably numerous financial gurus who would blanche to hear people talking this way. The entire world economy seems to be dependent on American wastefulness and profligacy. Wall Street sneezes and the world catches cold. If we make too much noise about curbing our consumption and living more simply, we will likely be seen by some as economic anarchists of a sort.

Does that make me a crunchy-con? If so, do I get a secret decoder ring?

Matt said...

Sorry to disappoint Tim but I got my decoder ring in the mail yesterday and it just told me to drink more Ovaltine.

Like you I've always wondered just what the economic effects of this lifestyle would be. There would be some seriously severe growing pains and there are legions of people who will not go quietly into such an economy. I think the only solution is to create small, local havens of common sense that serve to enrich life locally without a wider agenda. It's the quality of life that will catch on and spread similar communal grassroots organizations to other communities. To me it is certainly not an educational or advertising issue, it is simple exposure to another way of looking at "things" that will give people some small measure of peace in the stressful consumer world.

I was amazed by how much more enjoyable my life was with the simple deletion of cable TV and its endless advertising. Even though I only watched programs that I enjoyed, the consumer culture was absolutely unavoidable with all of the advertising. Now I'm more than happy with PBS and the occasional football game I catch with the rabbit ears.