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Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough
By Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss

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Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough

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Affluenza
When Too Much is Never Enough

By Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss
Read How You Want, (2009)
EasyRead Large Print, in 16 Point Font
(Originally Published in Standard Print by Allen & Unwin)
ISBN: 9781458747471
Genre: NonFiction - Sociology

Reviewed by Harry S. Chou - February 8, 2010

Affluenza is a disease earmarked by a person's desire to acquire more than they need. This can run the gamut from having more clothes than they could possibly wear, buying so much food that most of it goes to waste, living in a house that is too big for their needs, or wanting to take more and more drugs - whether they are self-medicating or getting prescription from a medical professional. Worse, people who are suffer from affluenza are never satisfied, too much is never enough and they just want more, and more, and more. Affluenza is primarily a disease of the Western world, but it is gaining ground in other areas of the world as well. While this might be great for the economic viability of the various nations with a high number of suffers, the disease poses real risks for sufferers and for the environment that is expected to handle all the excess waste.

In Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss provide an astute, and at times, scary, assessment of just how dangerous over consumption can be. They look at some of the causes of Affluenza, as well as how it manifests itself. The authors detail how the more we have, as a society, the more unhappy we appear to become and how over consumption damages the environment, both on terms of waste disposal and in the realm of depleting natural resources to make things we don't need. They also look at the negative impact that Affluenza is having on family life. To get more, people are going deeper and deeper into debt and consequently they have to work more to pay for all the things they don't need. When they do have any free time, they are spending most of it with their 'things' rather than with family members.

While the book is written from an Australian perspective, the information in it is applicable to any Western country afflicted with rampant Affluenza. From beginning to end, this is a chilling condemnation of consumerism and the ever-present clarion call from governments, advertisers, and merchants that you should buy, buy, buy. After all, it is the patriotic thing to do. This was a call that was blatantly made by the Bush administration, when they basically said that it was the duty of every American to buy more than they need to help keep the economy moving!

I found Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough to be both informative and pleasure to read. Despite its numerous graphs, statistics, and plethora of data, the authors have managed to make this book read more like a novel than like an economy textbook. The information is presented in easy to manage doses, and the writing is lively and easy to grasp. While the entire book is eye-opening, I found one of the most interesting, and depressing, segments of the text to be the authors' overview of how advertisers are targeting and 'training' children at a young age so that they become lifelong adherents to various 'brands' and how children are used to influence the purchases of adults. Another segment that I found especially interesting was the information on how psychological disorders (namely depression) and substance abuse, seem to rise concurrently with increases in economic growth.

While this book may not make any major impact in regard to helping put a halt to consumption-based capitalism, you may find it helpful on a personal level. Once your eyes are opened to just how much you are over spending, over acquiring, and over wasting, it may well make you rethink your own actions and to step back and to simplify or downsize your life. You are likely to find that doing so will make you a happier person, and while it may not seem as if one person can make a difference, you're not alone. When combined with all the other people making the same changes, as well as the use less approach, the recycle, and the go-green movements, it all starts to add up - or in this case - add down - to a healthier environment and happier people living in it!


Affluenza is available from Read How You Want, an on-demand publisher that makes books available in a variety of formats including Braille, DAISY, and five different large print formats. This range of formats makes this, and other books, available not only to visually impaired individuals, but also anyone with a reading or physical disability that makes reading standard print books difficult.


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