Think about it. We live our lives completely immersed in a market economy, and that economy shapes our behavior.
Markets reward the most effective sellers, so those guys get really good at making stuff that we want, and making us want it. The result? We end up spending money on stuff that we really want, but actually don’t need. In fact a good percentage of the time we barely use the stuff we buy, so it ends up filling up our houses, which makes us want bigger houses to store all that stuff we wanted so bad but never use. You do it too, don’t deny it.
Of course to buy all that stuff we need money, and markets have an answer for that too. More than one in fact.
First, labor markets will trade us money for work – we can always work for a living. But to buy all the stuff we want we’ll need a good job that pays decently, so unless daddy is going to set us up we’ll have to go to school to acquire some marketable skills. Then we need to climb the ladder from our entry level position to one that actually pays decently, but when we get a few rungs from the bottom we realize that what seemed like a decent salary before is totally inadequate to fund the lifestyle that we crave. The result? We become workaholics.
While we’re waiting to become workaholic middle managers we’re still craving that lifestyle, so debt markets will loan us money now, as long as we promise to pay them back later, with interest. That need to pay our debts only adds to our salary requirements.
And while we’re becoming workaholics, we need to sell all the stuff we produce to fund our salaries. Meaning that other workaholics have to buy it from us with their salaries.
And let’s not forget that some markets are food markets, and they get really good at producing food that we want and making us want it. We’re genetically programmed from thousands of years of actually being hungry to want calorically dense foods, sugar, salt, and fat. Make it marginally interesting and we’re hooked. The result? The highest rates of obesity in human history.
Markets live their lives completely immersed in us – they are us – so markets are very good at producing the things we tell them we want. Unfortunately, what we seem to want is to be fat, in debt, and workaholics. Which makes us the perfect customers. What good little citizens we are!
I wonder if we’ll ever want something else? If we did, what would it be?