Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Fighting Shy Rules of Stuff

  1. The acquisition of stuff must be monitored with vigilance, and whenever possible avoided.
  2. It is perfectly acceptable, and better than acceptable, to diminish your load of stuff periodically. 
  3. You usually don’t need to buy something to solve a problem. This statement is necessary as thoughts of buying are almost a reflexive reaction to any new problem faced in daily life, whether a rusty chain (buy some oil) or a fresh new anxiety (pay a therapist).
  4. The urge to buy can usually be satisfied through circumvention, through making the thing wanted, for example, or renovating an old one, or borrowing one, or finding a lay alternative, rather than by buying new. The desire for a particular experience is often construed in the imagination as a desire to buy, probably because buying a thing, for so long associated with enjoyment of the thing by preceding it, has come to be imagined as the enjoyment itself.
  5. Yet, with very few exceptions, the enjoyment of new acquisition soon wears off, and the soul returns to the humdrum quotidian.
  6. The price of an object seldom includes—as it should when making the purchase decision--the cost of storing the item for years, the commensurate loss of living space, the psychological toll of schlepping it around, the embarrassment of seeing it sit idle, the worry of finding a big enough place to hold it, and others that should be obvious to the reader.
  7. The accumulation of many possessions diminishes the appreciation of few. One faces a choice: Many and worse or fewer and better.
  8. Love of less can be cultivated, is nobler in spirit, and cheaper.
  9. In modern life, very few tools—very few tools—are truly necessary to perform the tasks of daily living. What tools are not possessed can often be improvised.
  10. A borrowed item is a more efficient item, as because it is used by more users it is more often used.
  11. A truly needed and not-to-be-borrowed item can be purchased with others and shared in a group.
  12. The concept of private property is not considerably diminished by the loss of exclusivity. That is to say, you don’t lose possession of something because others get to use it. It is no less your possession simply because you have lost the exclusive use of it.
 Conclusion: The theory of private property is a powerful, a civilized, and a not-to-mention necessary idea. But it can be taken too far.