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“Living in a material world and I am a material girl. You know that we are living in
a material world and I am a material girl.” This lyric from the popular song sung by the
80’s pop cultural phenomenon, Madonna, illustrates materialism in America. Materialism
consumes American culture daily. From having the latest iPhone to having the trendiest
clothes, materialism and the American dream go hand in hand. The American dream
could possibly be destroying the American people. Despite what other people may think,
materialism is America. Materialism stabilizes our economy, allows us to compete in the
changing world and gives the American people instant gratification that they want.
Despite the demoralizing ways of materialism, materialism is what keeps our
economy afloat. The popular, door busting holiday of Black Friday , as a leading
example, what more could one need? With next to nothing Wii consoles, what more
could make little Jimmy happier as he vigorously tears open the wrapping paper on
Christmas morning? “U.S. spending has reached $9.7 billion in the first 20 days of the
holiday season, up 14 percent versus 2010” (Rueters) This is because of parents’
consistent need to fulfill their child’s every whim and wish, America’s economy
continues to flourish. With flourish comes the creating of jobs. This example shows the
popular economic theory of supply and demand. This theory is what makes America so
successful today. Because of this theory, “Luxuries that had to be turned into necessities
and how entire cultural habits had to be transformed for this consumption is introduced
here.” (Shah) With mass consumption, the
economy remains stable for a period of time. America relies on its materialistic views to
keep it a float. If the economy isn’t doing well, deflation occurs. Deflation is when prices
for goods go down. This usually sends our stock market into havoc. This causes panic
and people suffer but because of America’s materialistic views, this occurs rarely.
Materialism and its many economic theories are what help keep America going.
“America was ranked 5th in global competitiveness in 2011.” (Heilprin) This
happened during a forum discussing the competitiveness of top nations around the
world. American and its other countries are constantly competing for the top spot in
global competitiveness and even though America dropped in ranking, it was still praised.
“The forum praised the U.S. for its productivity, highly sophisticated and innovative
companies, excellent universities and flexible labor market” (Heilprin) The reason
behind this was materialism. With America still in the top 5, the competitive spirit is still
there. As noted, our “innovative companies” are the main reason why competiveness is
in existence for this country. With desirable products produced, materialism is likely to
occur. Due to Americans’ “gotta have it” nature, materialism fuels out drive to compete
against the top nations like Sweden. Through out history, materialism is what fueled
America to begin to form. It even got to the point were America placed an embargo to
stop British products in 1807. With America willing to compete it soon became an
emerging nation at the time. This emerging nation was ,of course, fueled by materialism.
Our competitiveness defined our way in the society that was quickly form around our
aspiring nation. This was all thanks to Americans’ ingenuity and willing to buy.
The modern day American is known for their constant need for everything now.
The following cartoon by Jim Morin illustrates this below:
Though this cartoon depicts a grumpy Uncle Sam and a disappointed Obama, this
cartoon illustrates exactly what Americans are. Americans want everything and they
want everything now. This attitude demonstrates itself completely in materialism.
Materialism is what comes from instant gratification. Instant gratification can be defined
as getting something when you want it. A perfect example of this is a little girl in the
middle of the Barbie aisle in Toy ‘R Us. Little Susie will scream relentlessly until her
mommy gives in, in embarrassment. Hey, the kid earned it with those set of lungs. Instant
gratification happened right then and there in an American retail store. This happens all
the time in many retail stores but its not just for kids, adults do it too. When a person sees
something they want, they feel the need to have it. Instant gratification may have its
down sides, like bills stacking up or debtors calling constantly. This only happens with
those are really greedy and didn’t deserve it. Fortunately, there are Americans that take
responsibility with what they buy. With this value
in mind, American materialism is defining our economy from sea to shining sea.
Materialism is what defines America completely. Without materialism, our
economy would tank, people wouldn’t feel the need to be competitive or feel the need for
instant gratification. Materialism may cause opposing views but generally, it is a good
thing for the future of America. With intelligent, hard-working father’s to start our country
on its path, materialism was inevitably on its way. With the consistent change occurring
in our nation, materialism will always come with newest technology.
Heliprin, John. "US drops to 5th place in global competivness." MSNBCC. N.p.,
2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2011. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44423519/ns/
Morin, Jim. Cartoon. Miami Herald 21 Oct. 2009: n. pag. Miami Herald. Web. 4
Dec. 2011. <http://www.miamiherald.com>.
Rueter. Business & Financial, Breaking News & International News. N.p., 28 Nov.
2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2011. <http://www.reuters.com/>.
Shah, Anup. "Global Issues:Consumption and Consumerism." Newsweek (Mar.-Apr.
2011): n. pag. ProQuest Discovery. Web. 4 Dec. 2011.