Based on two highly acclaimed PBS documentaries watched by 10 million viewers, Affluenza uses the whimsical metaphor of a disease to tackle a very serious subject: the damage done—to our health, our families, our communities, and our environment—by the obsessive quest for material gain. In cleverly titled chapters such as “Swollen Expectations” and “A Rash of Bankruptcies,” the authors examine the origins, evolution, and symptoms of the affluenza epidemic. But they also explore cures and suggest strategies for rebuilding families and communities and for restoring and respecting the earth.
The 2008 economic collapse demonstrated how prophetic this book was. The third edition examines the role overconsumption played in the collapse and how our economy and society have changed since then. The authors also discuss new ways to measure social health and success, such as the Gross Domestic Happiness index, and offer policy recommendations to make our society more simplicity-friendly. The underlying message isn’t to stop buying; it’s to buy carefully and consciously, remembering, always, that the best things in life aren’t things.