Monday, November 13, 2006

A Guilty Conscience

I worry about too much stuff. You know, the concept of owning so much stuff that you don't own it, it owns you? I worry about that in America. Americans have tons and tons of stuff. Included in that stuff is a heavy dose of non-essential play things.

We have friends who snorted when we upgraded our house, but these same people have their bass boat and their four-wheeler and their big screen TV and their horses and their acreage and their tractor and on and on depending on the friend. Even the American of the most modest means lives very, very well by world standards.

So when is all this stuff beyond abundance and too much? I ask because we are considering putting in a pool. In fact, our eager (potential) pool builder has marked off the yard (he's an optimist) and the pool approval board just finished deciding whether or not our yard is pool-worthy. I'm starting to feel pressure.

By anyone's estimation, except maybe Donald Trump's, it's expensive. It is a modest design. It is simple. There are few embellishments. But still, it's expensive. Our neighborhood association has pools all over, but crazily enough they're open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Did I mention that it was 98 degrees in October? It is warm enough to have a pool open almost year around, and in fact, no one really closes their pool here. They just wait a few months, do some annual maintenance, and re-open.

But is it too much? Can you imagine what that money could do? How many starving children the pool could feed? How much college tuition it could cover? (Actually, not that much, really, but it would cover a chunk, anyway.) Do Brad Pitt and Angelina agonize this way when they board their gas-guzzling private jet? Is that why Hollywood all votes Democrat?

How much stuff is too much stuff?


Anonymous said...

Friends should be happy for you when you are able to upgrade to a nicer standard of living. Good for you all!

We've considered for a number of years putting in a pool because we have a very nice big yard. Each time we seriously talk about it again, we come to the same conclusion. It would be something nice to have but we are simply not willing to add 35,000 to our mortgage to pay for it. Our continued goal is to be debt free. We also have so many friends that have pools who all complain of the same thing. The up keep expense is high, it's a lot of work, and the newness wears off and the pool just sits there much of the time.

That said, its all about priorities. If you want a pool bad enough, have it put in and enjoy it!!! Remember your dreamboard? Things have a way of working itself out. Good luck on your decision!

Lons said...

Even the American of the most modest means lives very, very well by world standards.

Really? You think? If you had said "lower-income Americans," okay, I'd agree. But Americans of the most modest means? There are some exceptionally poor people in America. Granted, we don't have favelas like Brazil, but still...sounds like a little bit of self-aggrandizement to me to assume that all Americans are living some version of the proverbial "Dream."

Anonymous said...

A friend would take her boys to the poorest parts of the city at times for major reality checks. They both grew up very comfortable, one studied to be a doctor and the other an accountant. Both realize that there are people in these United States that live on streets. I always thought that was a good thing she did.