Ms Betterhome

The case against thrift, by Judith Levine
November 9, 2009, 10:27 pm
Filed under: learning | Tags: ,

A couple of years ago, when I was getting into my ‘learning about money’ mode, I read Judith Levine’s book Not Buying It: my year without shopping. I loved it so much, I borrowed it from the library twice, then bought a copy through the ‘academic remainders‘ bookseller.

I recommended it to another blogger this morning, & googled the title to check I had it right. In doing so, I found Levine’s blog, with a link to this article in on the reification of thrift. I agree with Levine that the moral condemnation of consumerism & popular culture is common on both the left & right these days – and that consuming less or being environmentally aware doesn’t give anyone a ticket to heaven, or license to dish out judgements on others.  Like Levine, I’m pro-thrift – but I’m wary of the sanctimoniousness (or marketing spin) that can sometimes accompany the ‘simplicity’ movement. As Levine pithily puts it:

I’m thrifty by upbringing and environmentalist principle and, and as a writer, by necessity. For decades I’ve dutifully put money into my IRA. This year, like everyone else, I lost half of it. Did thrift reward me? I cannot say it gave me much spiritually, unless you count a sense of security. And that turns out to have been false.

The Australian take on things is a bit different of course – our first white settlers were convicts and corrupt cops, not Puritans. But still – I can’t recommend Levine’s writing highly enough to people who want to really think about consumption (especially middle-class lefties like myself).


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