Faced with our daily rising expenses for living expenses, we tend to collectively lament: “Everything was better in the old days!” But is that true?
It was better because of one’s own distortion of perception. This takes us into a transfigured past, whitewashed with delicate colours, which is, however, only a projection screen for our own thoughts. The purpose of this mind game is to ensure a more pleasant feeling in bad times, to persevere, to endure crises. Otherwise mankind would probably have died out long ago. Psychologists suspect that looking at the past through rose-colored glasses keeps us from despairing of reality.
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But when the collective “everything is so uncertain, difficult, difficult to plan today” leads to not taking action at all, it becomes treacherous. It’s too tempting to simply push away responsibility with this excuse. After all, the huge mountain of problems cannot be solved as a single person anyway. So let’s join the chorus again: “Everything was better in the old days!”
Susan J. Moldenhauer has 22 years of professional experience in the financial industry and in sales. At a financial and investment broker, she looks after well-informed clients on an equal footing. At the strategy consultancy Stategy Pirates, she supports people and teams in their professional lives as a financial and career coach. Her topics are: communication, self-marketing, salary and fee negotiations and the right attitude towards money and finances.
When it comes to the general standard of living, probably not. Let’s ask our parents and grandparents: three vacations a year? A new car and new TV every few years? Definitely not, will be the answer.
Despite record inflation, I can see full restaurants and cafés. Overcrowded airport terminals were bursting at the seams just a few weeks ago. On social media, people send greetings from their third vacation this year, of course from hip, Instagrammable “places-to-be”. Vacation several times a year? That seems to be standard for many people, and now even more so, after all, the lockdown times during the pandemic have to be caught up. Gone are the days of calm, flight- and contrail-free skies and the crystal-clear canals of Venice.
Crises are not dead ends. The tear-off calendar saying “there is an opportunity in every crisis” should be taken seriously. But what is the chance in these times?
The engine of our economic system is perpetual growth. Since the 1920s, research has been carried out into planned obsolescence, the deliberate shortening of the lifespan of everyday objects in order to stimulate demand. Throw away instead of repairing.
Instead of the advertising promise “lasts a lifetime” we follow “the latest must-have!” Is that the planned breaking point of progress? The breaking of the neck of our world economic system with the mantra of eternal growth on a finite planet with limited resources?
Can we afford more products today, but less quality? Did we used to be more conscious and careful with our belongings, simply because we had to save on them for much longer and we still had our grandparents in our ears telling us about the shortages during the war?
Exactly this contradiction of the eternal growth on the finite planet is our chance. Why aren’t the manufacturing and disposal costs of products included in the retail price? Why do the raw materials used in our electronic items have to travel halfway around the world several times? Why are they extracted from the earth under adverse circumstances, then built into a housing under precarious circumstances, and finally
to be removed from the housing at landfill sites under conditions that are highly dangerous for people and the environment, so that it can ultimately be returned to the raw materials market? A cycle, but without calculating the consequences for people and the environment.
Wouldn’t it make more sense if refrigerators, computers, mobile phones and cars were made to last longer and be modular, so that as technology evolved, only the modules needed to be replaced? Wouldn’t it make more sense for manufacturers to be held responsible and liable for the entire supply chain of their products? Wouldn’t it make more sense if manufacturers could take back, repair and recycle their broken products without illegally shipping them to third world countries?
And wouldn’t it make more sense if we needed less stuff and things were more quality?
And how about if the values of sustainability, waste avoidance, longevity were more important than the advertising slogan of the latest “must-have-it-piece”? And how would it be if the capital market only used the principles of waste avoidance, the ecological footprint and product longevity to evaluate stock corporations?