A lot of it is the banks - the financial planners - the stock brokers - the people we trust with our money.
Some of it has been us.
We have become monsters of consumption, people who believe we need everything our parents had, everything our neighbors have, everything the people on television have.
We've forgotten what it is to be content with our needs met. We've bought in to the idea that we must have MORE. We've bought with credit and sold out our futures to debts we can never repay.
I don't need a damned Kitchen Aid Mixer. I have a mixer that works great despite being made in the same decade I was conceived in. Why did I register for that stuff? I know what I want and it's for people to make it to the wedding if they can - I don't need that crap.
30 Rock. Hilarious, right? You don't think that the GE ovens featured floating in heavenly skies skew you into thinking you need a new gas oven with four or more thick burners? Nevermind the actual commercials. The anti-consumer epic Fight Club? How many of you now shop at Ikea partially because of the movie?
What do we NEED? Where on Maslow's hierarchy of needs is Purchasing Power (or the lack thereof)?
Not under basic needs for sure: food? Nah, I can mix with the mixer I have and it my food comes out tasty and healthy.
The next level up: stability, et cetera. My trusty mixer still works.
Belongingness: maybe. The Kitchen Aide mixer is a ubiquitous appliance. You just have to pick your color to be individual (who still belongs in the in group).
Oh, there it is. Esteem, status. Who doesn't have the Kitchen Aide mixer, especially in the most recent colors? Why are you occasionally driving a late 90s vehicle when you can go into debt for a new hybrid who's cost of manufacture isn't just measured in dollars? Why ride your beat up but functional bicycle when the folks in the hip trendy areas have $3000 custom bikes?
But what about your knowledge, your meaning, your self-awareness? Or back to the last level - what if we redefine status? Or get rid of status?
Why don't we realize again the important things? The joy, the self-esteem, one can get from making something rather than buying something. The pride that comes from the perfect cheesecake? The excitement of a seed YOU planted poking it's seedling head from under the ground? The beauty in a story you've written? Why do we measure worth in money made, or even worse, your ability to own things, or pretend that you own things?
This is all stuff we KNOW, down somewhere in the pit of our stomachs. Stuff we should've known as we were doing it.
Thankfully I had grandparents that taught me the joys of gardening and raising our own food. I have multiple family members who can make things with their hands. But still we get caught up and do things like put a mixer on a wedding registry.