The fallacy of better, faster, cheaper.

Better-Faster-Cheaper, that’s the mantra for business and society in the 21st century. If we can’t do it, better, faster and cheaper, then some other company or country will. We are on a never ending treadmill where according to economists, we the consumer, benefit infinitely. We gain better and better products at lower and lower prices. Wal-Mart became the largest corporation in the world with its “Always the Lowest” strategy. We may complain about foreign goods and foreign workers and off-shoring jobs but it does not prevent us from buying the lowest priced goods we can find regardless of where they are made.

However, there are costs to this never ending gain which we have no way to calculate. There is more and more pressure to buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend. There is the gut level need to keep up with the Jones. There is the overwhelming obsession with having more and more stuff. Image takes precedence over substance. We live in a designer world with designer clothes, designer toys, designer dogs and designer people. We are all chasing an illusion of uniqueness through a maze of materialism. It is a game of smoke and mirrors and while we may think we are in a Fun House, it often is really a Mad House. We spend more than we can afford and more than we earn so we can present an image that reflects what the rest of the world thinks we should look like. We have t-shirts which read “shop till you drop” and “he who has the most toys win.” We lose our souls to gain a few more precious pieces of tomorrow’s obsolete flea market goods.

Do material goods, regardless of quality, make us happier? No one wants inferior products, or to return to a primeval lifestyle, but how much is enough? Can we say, there are never enough goods and services? What about time? What about the quality of the time you spend in your pursuit of happiness? How much money would you give for one more year to live if you were going to die tomorrow?

Are you calculating the cost of your time in your effort to be a designer person? What about the value of the time lost playing this game of trivial pursuit? Maybe you could find a mantra to live and work by that would focus more on happiness and less on things. What if we said that: “those who win have the most soul?” “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul? (Mark and Matthew in the New Testament)

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