The consumer economy has generated more wealth than any other economic system in history. But is it good for us?

Take obesity and growing diabetes rates, for example. Some blame processed foods, growing waistlines and not enough exercise. Others point to mass market entertainment, designed to be consumed from the couch. Who's to blame, Madison Avenue and McDonald's… or us?

Modern retail culture can be viewed as uniform and sterile… or the source of a near infinite variety of products to help each of us express our own individuality. Does its convenience and time-saving efficiencies free us for a greater good?

The emotional strains of our consumer economy are increasingly evident, too. Economists say that beginning in the late 1950s GDP followed an upward path but happiness in the U.S. stagnated. Social and culture watchers say it's not hard to guess why. Americans spend too many hours on the job to maintain relationships, build communities, or pursue simple pleasures.

What are your ideas for getting more >_____ by using less >_____?

Learn more:

  • Speaking of Faith's Krista Tippett speaks with financial educator Nathan Dungan about the conflict many of us experience between our values and how we spend our money in "Money and Moral Balance".
  • Life Changing Purchase on Weekend America: a winning lottery ticket.