It's the usual Sunday morning and I'm reading economic commentary by the usual peanut gallery of opinionated social guru's (which is everybody in America). Everybody has an opinion on what is wrong with America's system and then how to fix it. That is, how they would fix it.
Tax the rich, take away entitlements, free healthcare to all, make people pay for their own healthcare, flat tax, fair tax, raise the retirement age, etc.
What it comes down to is what we already know about fundamental economics (what Adam Smith wrote about hundreds or years ago); the individual will pursue what they feel is in their own best interest. If they are poor, then they want more (raise me up a level). If someone is middle class, then they want more (raise me up a level). If someone is upper middle class, then they want more (raise me up a level). And if someone is rich, then they want more (raise me up a level). All seem to be justified (in their own minds).
Many worry about the future of America and the world for that matter. Sometimes I worry myself. That's human nature. If you don't worry about things, then you probably don't identify risks very well and make adaptations before the risks become reality.
Some worry that their wealth will be impacted by the future. Maybe their house is being devalued. Maybe their investments are being devalued. Maybe their cash (which is in U.S. dollars) is being devalued.
But wealth always has been and always will be a "relative" institution. Three main components of wealth (not just financial) would include; time, material goods, and health. Some might throw in family, love, religion, etc. Whatever the case, wealth is more than just toys.
It's important to remember that even "toys" are relative. Some worry aboutwhat kind of house they live in now or what they will be able to afford in the future. But this is again relative. It's relative to the past and the advances in technology. Today, people might desire to have a home with granite countertops, wifi technology to the max, 72" high def televisions, tempur-pedic mattresses, and 22 jet tubs in their bathrooms.
But all of these items are still just relative to what other humans have. Wealth is often "in our heads". It's perception and the perception is based on our comparison to others. Go back just 100 years. Heck, just go back 50 or 60 years. My wife's parents grew up in homes that didn't have indoor plumbing in the early years. They still grew and raised much of their own food. That was life in the 1940's or 1950's in rural America.
Wealth back then meant indoor plumbing, electricity for lights, maybe an automobile with a 6 cylinder basic engine.
Homes didn't have walk-in closets, 5 bedrooms, central heating and air, endless hot water systems, or 22 jet tubs, even for the wealthy. The average home of anyone middle class would be much better than a home of "the wealthy" a few decades back considering amenities.
Wealthy people may have more time for leisure (as long as we realize that people have time for leisure right now at both ends of the social spectrum). Plenty of people at lower ends of the social scale use their time for leisure more than I do.
So as the world changes, and as technology changes, and as the value of goods and services change, wealth will still come down to time, toys, health, love, etc.
I think where people get into the most trouble is when they correlate their happiness to just one component of wealth (mainly the toys...). But those that understand themselves and what they define as total wealth, do a lot better on the happiness scale than those who are in endless pursuit of toys only.
And it's not that the toys aren't nice, it's just that they aren't as nice once our neighbor has acquired the same toy. Then it's just not worth the same...