Friday, August 27, 2010

The Can

Tin CanFrom time to time, there's a can I like to kick around. It's an old can. It has no label, but I like to think, at times, that it was once filled with an exotic food, but it could have, just as well, been filled with nothing more exciting, nothing more valuable, than what it often appears to be--a simple can of beans.

I've kicked it around here. I kicked it around in the comment section of the last blog entry. But alas, when no one stepped forward to kick the can with me, I was, frankly, a bit disappointed, but still determined to kick the can.

Although without a label, the can is still a shiny one, with promises of all sorts of interesting things inside.

That disappointment led to this blog entry. The can, notwithstanding its promising shiny surface, can still be ignored, but if you work your way through the several entries to follow, you'll have to, at least, pick the can up, and handle it from top to bottom, even if you decide, finally, that you don't wish to give it a kick.

But I hope you will.

This is my opening remark, a preface of a sort, to fulfill a promise I made a while back to take a closer look at what's needed to create and maintain a viable black economy.

That notion is the can I've kicked around for years. It started when I found a small book, actually a booklet, that appeared to be self-published. The title, as best I can recollect, is: "Don't Blame the White Man!"

Small though it was, the booklet was, nevertheless, ambitious in its sweep: It proposed to outline an economic strategy--nothing short of an economic recovery plan for the black community. Before integration, blacks used to own a fair number of small black businesses. Don't misunderstand me: Blacks are still small-business owners, and entrepreneurs--I'm not suggesting that we're not--but that integration took a great deal of steam out of that economic engine. One of the authors, I recall, was a registered nurse. I don't remember the occupation of the book's co-author, but he was, I believe, an accomplished professional, as well, but in an unrelated field.

Several regulars to my blog have hinted at the possibility of developing a black economy, and a couple of them have gone so far as to trace the outline of it:

"I would rather see a secret society of Black people go somewhere to meet and agree to become the talented tenth that is honestly needed....I would rather see the money that is going to be spent to go march in D.C. be pooled into an economic tool for our benefit....[I]t makes more sense to be actively engaged in pooling resources to be in the position of doing more for ourselves." msladydeborah

On several occasion, Greg L has, too, weighed in on this economic possibility. It's one of his focal points, if I might make so bold as to summarize the attention he's given to this. His following statement encapsulates this, although it may not capture Greg's complete thoughts around the subject:

"I believe that the only pragmatic choice available to our people is to actually develop our communities socially, politically and economically on our own. We have to fix what ails us and rightly or wrongly, no one is going to do it except that it be us. I also believe that after having done that, a level of confidence in our own competence would be such that we really wouldn't need to bother with seeking much from those who aren't inclined to give us anything anyway and if for some chance they did give us something, we would have developed the capacity to maximize the use of it.

"So in my mind, the central goal we need to pursue is power and the most direct path to getting it lies in political and economic control of our backyard. It's the last place that we generally look, but I'm convinced that any group of black people who were successful at executing on any initiative even making a small dent in some of our challenges would have power out of proportion to their numbers. I'm not suggesting this is easy nor will it be something that's even accomplished in your lifetime or mine, but it must be done if we are to survive and thrive."


I like the passion of both, Greg L, and msladydeborah. If I could bottle that passion and give it away, or just release it into the atmosphere as one would a weaponized contagion, this blog entry would be unnecessary, and the previous remarks redundant.

This series, then, will not treat the subject exhaustively: That would take a sizable set of tomes just to explore all the intricacies, and complexities that define the problem, and a research staff of hundreds to examine every course of action that might show a measure of promise.

So, by necessity, these blog entries will not be comprehensive. What I hope they will be is a blueprint, and a sketchy one at that, of one way, out of potentially thousands, that will help us conceptualize the challenge--that is, what resources would be required to establish and maintain a black economy, one, hopefully, only tangentially connected to the larger economy, but existing within it as a small, but powerful enclave.

20 comments:

msladydeborah said...

I don't know how I missed the other post. But, I certainly intend to pay close attention to what comes up about this subject.

One of the things that I have been working on is educating myself about money in this century. I find that there is a great need to have at least a good working knowledge about money and how it should be working for individuals.
I honestly think that how we look at our personal finances is out of step in many cases with the times.

I am really looking forward to seeing what comes up on this topic.

Black Diaspora said...

Once again you're first, msladydeborah. Actually, I debated long whether I'd even tackle this topic, but finally capitulated, aware that the subject gets very little attention among bloggers.

Although my focus in the several entries to follow is on the development of a black economy, it could be expanded, in the comment section, to a discussion of individual financial matters as well, and how best to grow our financial resources.

And I'll start it off. I know of a group of people who have modest earnings. When I say modest, I mean a less than $50,000.00 annual income, and that's gross, not net, before taxes take a big bite of the apple.

Of course, modest is relevant. But with that modest earning, they give away a large part of it, and still manage to live lifestyles that are the envy of many, living larger than those who receive twice that amount: They have commodious homes, large savings accounts, and are never strapped for cash when an unexpected expense crops up, or they find an item that tickles their fancy.

They neither hoard, nor live frugally.

What's their secret: It's in the giving. They give in a way that's hard for others to do--they give without a thought of losing anything.

For them to give is to gain. And that's how they see it, and that's how they experience it.

As each month comes to a close, they find that, although they've given much away, they still have a great deal left over.

And it's not about tithing to the church, or tithing at all--It's all about the giving, when they're moved to do so, either consistently to one party or more, or to a variety of them as the need dictates.

They give to many who ask, and to many who would seek to borrow--prudently, of course, but give they do.

And if that which is borrowed is never returned, they receive, often from an unexpected source, three or four times the amount that was lent out.

This is an unorthodox way of perceiving, and managing money, I know, but, for them, it works, and works well.

For those who might like to try this, start out small, until confidence is built up with the certainty, the sure knowledge, that what is given will be returned--that giving and receiving aren't two separate acts but one.

Greg L said...

BD,

I wanted to come here just to let you know that I'll be definitely weighing in here. As I indicated previously, I've been caught up in a few projects here of late that have cut into my blogging time, but any blog entry you write is a priority for me to get engaged in as I appreciate the exchange. So, I'll certainly be here to help flesh the discussions on black economics by contributing whatever I can.

I'll circle back in a few to comment further.

G

Black Diaspora said...

Greg L said...

"BD,
I wanted to come here just to let you know that I'll be definitely weighing in here."

Looking forward to your contributions, Greg L.

Ernesto said...

I'm back from vacation BD. Good to see your blogging ambition remains unbridled. As consumers, we have a lot of power. Did you ever hear of the "Buy Black" campaign?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30707142/

It seems a little gimmicky, but it points out some of the challenges to be faced on the road to Black economic self-sufficiency.

Miriam said...

Hi BD,

you said:
"This is an unorthodox way of perceiving, and managing money, I know, but, for them, it works, and works well."

I think it IS the orthodox way of managing money. At least that's what I've heard.

Other things I've heard is separating money into thirds: 1/3 for land (i.e. property), 1/3 available cash and 1/3 to reinvest in a business of sorts.

Black Diaspora said...

"Other things I've heard is separating money into thirds: 1/3 for land (i.e. property), 1/3 available cash and 1/3 to reinvest in a business of sorts."

Hi, Miriam. It's been a long time. As Granny would say, it's good to see your fonts.

I'm happy to have you weigh in on this. I like the 1/3 Rule, if I can call it that, but I'm incline to make it the 1/4 Rule, and set aside that much to reinvest in ourselves (us), to give away to causes that benefit others in need.

It's good to get validation for a system that many, perhaps, may have never considered.

Please continue to follow: The articles being planned will take a macroeconomic view of building a black economy, but, in the comment section, we'll focus, too, on a microeconomic view as well--our personal finances, and how to build them.

I welcome your input.

Black Diaspora said...

Ernesto said...
"I'm back from vacation BD. Good to see your blogging ambition remains unbridled. As consumers, we have a lot of power. Did you ever hear of the "Buy Black" campaign?"

Ernesto, somedays I have to fight the temptation to throw in the towel, to use a boxing analogy.

I'm looking forward to you blogging again. I've missed your incisive, insightful dissection of current events.

I've heard of the "campaign," but, frankly, I haven't looked into it. I will, however.

That's the kind of thing I'm hoping these planned articles will generate--information about ideas that are already in play, as well as ideas that might succeed, if given a chance.

I'm researching the proposed articles now, and am excited about what I may find.

This is a big topic. I may have to visit, and revisit it, in the days and months ahead.

Greg L said...

"For those who might like to try this, start out small, until confidence is built up with the certainty, the sure knowledge, that what is given will be returned--that giving and receiving aren't two separate acts but one."

I once read a story written by a successful black woman who wrote something that I've always remembered and have tried to incorporate into my own life. To paraphrase, she said that God has no reason to bless someone unless that person is a blessing to other people. In other words, we can choose to be vessels by which blessings flow to others. I guess that explains the principle you’ve outlined BD that giving and receiving are one act.

I believe that is also one of the main principles underlying how to conduct business and this is where I’ve applied the principle. I’ve observed others not apply it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people start a business to “make money” rather than doing it to help people. The latter will keep you in business while the former almost always ensures a very short lived entrepreneurial endeavor. From my observations, this is so because those who are focused entirely on “making money” care little about quality or the other things that would that would maximize ”the help” given rather than the immediate inflow into the bank account. Of course, I don’t need to point out that at the bottom of our nation’s economic and political problems is this focus on “making money” rather than helping and giving to people. Greed is the scourge of the earth.

In my business, I’ve had the opportunity to observe the behavior of people up front relative to money. The basic rule I’ve learned is to never judge someone’s wealth by what they appear to have. I have seen folks who from outside appearances would appear to be wealthy based on their possessions while they were actually flat broke. I’ve seen others that you would never guess had a thin dime, yet they’ve got the deep pockets. So, I’ve developed the habit of never concluding that someone is doing well by what they appear to have. The only conclusion one can arrive at on those observations is that the individual “spent well”.

Our society makes us focus success on the acquisition of things and I think that an aspect of greed is the endless want for things. I’ve also observed many folks who needlessly stress over acquiring “things” so much that it spawns an endless want for money. Once there’s no limit to one’s desires, then there’s never enough money. When that happens, there’s no limit to what they’ll do to get money and this is where people start to descend into theft and deception as a means to get money to fuel that never ending desire for things. There’s plenty of examples of that in this economy as well. Everyone is trying to imitate the guy who “spent well” in a race to the bottom.


Money will do whatever you want it to do. If you want to acquire thing after thing, money will enable that, you just won’t have any of it left.

Personally, I try to look at money as a resource and the most important thing that money can do for me is free me of the need for it. In other words, if I can save it, invest it while limiting my desires I figure that I’ll need less of it and that’s my goal. I just don’t want to be a slave to money or “things” at this point in my life.

Greg L said...

It seems a little gimmicky, but it points out some of the challenges to be faced on the road to Black economic self-sufficiency”

Ernesto,

Thanks for sharing that story. I had recalled reading that story earlier once I reread it and this is yeoman’s work this lady is doing. Let me share a bit.

As you may or may not know, I’m own and manage a small certified public accounting firm and have been in business for about 25 years. My start was in the African-American community preparing taxes. I can state unequivocally that if it wasn’t for the support of black folks, I wouldn’t be in business. Over the years, my firm’s client base has become more diverse, but the mainstay has been my firm African-American clients, both individuals and business owners. Within our community generally, there’s great interest in supporting black business, but the business owner has to be prepared to provide good service at a reasonable price. Being black may help initially in getting business, but one has to execute to keep it. Believe me, no one’s going to stick with you if you screw up their taxes!

When I started business and continuing to this day, an African American CPA is somewhat of a novelty. Less than 1% of all CPA’s in the nation are black with a far less percentage of those in public practice. Generally, there’s a shortage of CPA’s similar to that of nurses so the small percentage of black CPA’s can actually be a pretty good deal given the demand for these services in the African-American community--and there is a distinct demand.

continued...

Greg L said...

part 2

Certain demographics drive my business, particularly those revolving around income, home ownership and net worth. The combination of these factors creates a client profile that has a certain type of tax return due to the sorts of financial issues related to the demographic. My marketing target was the African-American professional and business owner and like this lady in the article, I went looking for them and they responded. My initial marketing list was the Black Enterprise direct mail list. I don’t know if they still make it available, but the demographics of that list is the crème de le crème of the African-American consumer market. Average subscriber income at that time was about 100K and that was 25 years ago. No telling where that number is now. I also used the Essence magazine subscriber list for direct mail solicitation.

Marketing doesn’t end with the solicitation as you’ve still got quite of bit of selling once you have the client in the door. This is where service comes into play. Your place has to look right, you’ve got to talk right and you have to come “correct”. The African-American consumer is very discerning and wants high quality. Sometimes in those initial days, it felt like Saturday Night at the Apollo! Folks were coming in with the predisposition that you couldn’t serve them and I literally took this as a challenge. This was very good training for me and prepared my firm to expand to other demographics outside of the African-American community.

This last point (working with non-black consumers), is not one to be overlooked in business. Sometimes we believe that folks are so “racial” that they won’t do business with us. That’s not been my experience. Think about when you want Chinese food. Do you want the food or are you concerned about the Chinese? Of course, if the place looks like a wreck , the service is bad and the food smells like it’s got toe jam in it, you’re not going to want anything they’re serving. This applies to us as well. You’d be surprised what folks are willing to set aside if you can provide them what’s needed. I’ve had the ultimate political anathemas (staunch republican tea party types) as clients and we’ve still been able to deal on a business level.

Black Diaspora said...

Greg L, you make so many good points that I'm tempted to point to each one, and respond to them all.

I'll try to show some restraint.

"I believe that is also one of the main principles underlying how to conduct business and this is where I’ve applied the principle."

You're right, of course. This principles applies to every aspect of our daily life.

If you're married: Focus on making the other happy, rather than on whether the the other is making you happy.

If you're selling yourself: Focus on what you have that will benefit the company, or a client, rather than on how the company, or the client, can benefit you.

That would seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be amazed how often the focus is on the self (what the applicant hope to receive from the company), rather than on the company (what the applicant has to offer to improve the company's bottomline, reputation, effectiveness, or client base).

That "successful black woman" knew a thing or two about how to run a business--that's why she was successful. She didn't see her business, as you pointed out, for what it could do for her, but what it could do for others.

"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people start a business to 'make money' rather than doing it to help people. The latter will keep you in business while the former almost always ensures a very short lived entrepreneurial endeavor."

Precisely: Its the "value added" part of the business that is often neglected--a clear, unambiguous, indication that the business exists to improve my well-being, my fortune, and not just theirs.

And it's the absence of that value added that now has me searching for a new dentist: I was beginning to feel like a "cash cow," rather than a patient that was valued.

Black Diaspora said...

"Personally, I try to look at money as a resource and the most important thing that money can do for me is free me of the need for it. In other words, if I can save it, invest it while limiting my desires I figure that I’ll need less of it and that’s my goal. I just don’t want to be a slave to money or 'things' at this point in my life."

Excellent point.

Blinders Off said...

BD,

I love the post. You already know what I do.

Greg is right..."I believe that the only pragmatic choice available to our people is to actually develop our communities socially, politically and economically on our own. We have to fix what ails us and rightly or wrongly, no one is going to do it except that it be us. I also believe that after having done that, a level of confidence in our own competence would be such that we really wouldn't need to bother with seeking much from those who aren't inclined to give us anything anyway and if for some chance they did give us something, we would have developed the capacity to maximize the use of it.

So in my mind, the central goal we need to pursue is power and the most direct path to getting it lies in political and economic control of our backyard. It's the last place that we generally look, but I'm convinced that any group of black people who were successful at executing on any initiative even making a small dent in some of our challenges would have power out of proportion to their numbers. I'm not suggesting this is easy nor will it be something that's even accomplished in your lifetime or mine, but it must be done if we are to survive and thrive."


It is very hard, but it is also very rewarding witnessing change in your community when you work hard to enlighten others of the political power they have in numbers. Although, there will always be some of us who are willing to sell us out, they are not difficult to spot once you commit to enlighten the uninformed socially, politically and economically. It took me a few years to get to the point of where I am now in my community, but it was well worth it.

BD, you asked What I hope they will be is a blueprint, and a sketchy one at that, of one way, out of potentially thousands, that will help us conceptualize the challenge--that is, what resources would be required to establish and maintain a black economy, one, hopefully, only tangentially connected to the larger economy, but existing within it as a small, but powerful enclave.

IMO, it starts in our own back yard and if there is a way those who are doing can connect, the power of that connection could affect the larger economy. We will never know unless someone is willing to try. One suggestion is to get like-minded people who are already committed in establishing social, political, and economic empowerment in their community start a blog as a blueprint for others to follow in their communities. I commit right here and right now if there are others willing to do so.

BD, although you will be receiving a personalize thank you from the President for tax purposes. Our organization appreciates the donations and the MASK program will be starting its second year September 18. The program has received tremendous recognition in its first year and we recently received a sizable donation from the Kiwanis and in the running for another sizable grant. That is why I have been away from blogging. However, no donation or grant means as much to ME than the donations we receive from you...I thank you from the bottom of MY heart.

And it's not about tithing to the church, or tithing at all--It's all about the giving, when they're moved to do so, either consistently to one party or more, or to a variety of them as the need dictates.

They give to many who ask, and to many who would seek to borrow--prudently, of course, but give they do.


That is soo true, my husband use to ask me why I give to others when MY only income is now SSD. This might sound strange to others, but I give because I am blessed, I am not hurting for nothing and I cannot take money to the grave with me. He also noticed through my giving to others be it volunteering, money or professional help with out payment I have been rewarded in many unexpected wonderful ways.

Black Diaspora said...

"I commit right here and right now if there are others willing to do so."

I like your spirit. You and Greg L bring a much needed perspective to this discussion. I'm researching now the various topics that will make up the several blog entries I'm planning to present.

Your, and Greg's, experiences will be invaluable in helping us understand what will, and what will not, work.

I hope to have the first installment up soon.

"[M]y husband use to ask me why I give to others when MY only income is now SSD. This might sound strange to others, but I give because I am blessed, I am not hurting for nothing and I cannot take money to the grave with me."

Were we to do one thing, and one thing only (all of us, worldwide)--to share what we have, whether little or much--we could change the impoverished conditions on our planet, from those that face insufficiencies, to those that experience more than enough, with some left over to share as well.

It's all about giving. It's all about sharing. What we give to others, we give to ourself.

Greg L said...

I read something about Africa today that made me think about the discussion we were having here.

I believe there is a common theme I see in our conditions worldwide and that is the struggle under a system of economics that derives an economic benefit from our conditions.

Developing a community or even oneself is often a function of having the time to do so. When I took my college psychology class, we discussed a concept known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a pyramid of human needs which is normally depicted as a pyramid. If you’re unfamiliar with that concept, there’s a very good visual at Wikipedia that captures the concept. At the bottom of the pyramid are basic needs like food, water, security and shelter while at the top are things like creativity, achievement, self esteem and family. Getting to the top of the pyramid requires that one be able to meet the basic needs at the bottom and if you’re unable to ever meet those basic needs, that’s where you stay. This means that conditions of economic struggle over basic things leaves those caught in those conditions never reaching the top of the pyramid. Of course, if more people reach the top, economic dynamics begin to change in a macro sense. All men are truly equal notwithstanding the attempts to convince us otherwise and given the right conditions, anyone can achieve. The problem is that this is well known and more people achieving is perceived to mean less for others. This is only true in a zero sum world.

Greg L said...

One of things I think it’s important to come to grips with is that the current economic system needs people at the base of the pyramid. Frequently, those at the base drive the self actualization of those at the top. Frequently, conditions are set up to ensure that certain people remain in a condition of searching for the basic things in life. You can literally arrest someone’s development by imposing these sorts of conditions. As it is for individuals, so it is for communities and even entire nations.

Black folks are caught in the base of the pyramid struggling for basic things. These conditions are frequently imposed, but they also require our cooperation. To the extent our community is enamored by "things" means that we feed the coffers of others at our own expense--and that expense includes the foregone opportunity to develop own our communities or ourselves as individuals. The mad pursuit of things creates a sort of self imposed scarcity that reinforces our position at the bottom of the pyramid.

As I think about many of the problems and issues in our community (i.e. the gangbanging, the misogyny, drug dealing, non-representative leadership and etc.), most arise from a maladaptive desire for “things” or the money that will get the “things”. Why is it that there always seems to be a mad African dictator in charge of a country? How is he different from the drug dealing gang member who wreaks havoc in the community? Both have been corrupted by the mad rush for money and create the sort of insecurity that blocks the ascent up the pyramid and are unwittingly keeping conditions in place that stifle the development of their nation or community.

I believe there’s a critical step that must be taken for the political, economic and social development of our communities. Some of us must break ranks to pursue a different path. We must become free of the love of money and things. As we do that, we’ll find that we’ll have more money, but with a different attitude about it. From that position, perhaps more of us can begin make the ascent up the pyramid.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "Getting to the top of the pyramid requires that one be able to meet the basic needs at the bottom and if you’re unable to ever meet those basic needs, that’s where you stay. This means that conditions of economic struggle over basic things leaves those caught in those conditions never reaching the top of the pyramid. Of course, if more people reach the top, economic dynamics begin to change in a macro sense.

[...]

"Black folks are caught in the base of the pyramid struggling for basic things. These conditions are frequently imposed, but they also require our cooperation."

Greg, there are two ways I could respond to this, but I'll limit myself mostly to the road most traveled by.

You're right: blacks, Native Americans, and some Mexicans, reside at the bottom of the pyramid, although some with an eye toward the top are forever languishing at or near the base for a variety of reasons: Lack of education, opportunity, discouragement, and, for Native Americans, not willing to cooperate with those that conquered their land, and doused their spirit.

The base, as in a feudal system, exists to serve those near the apex of the pyramid.

In the black community there are two things never in short supply: liquor stores and store-front churches.

Blacks can get their spirit from two sources--the bottle or the church.

The bottle keeps us from being an economic threat to whites (vying for those good jobs to reach those self-actualizing heights), and the church mollifies us, the black masses, with promises of rewards in an afterlife.

Most people seem to take their existence for granted (for what it seems to be), without questioning it. We need more seekers, more inquirers, more on quests to find the meaning of life.

"As we do that, we’ll find that we’ll have more money, but with a different attitude about it. From that position, perhaps more of us can begin make the ascent up the pyramid."

Now to the road less traveled: Or we can avoid the pyramid altogether. We have within us all we'll ever need, making us the source of it, and, therefore, without needs.

Ernesto said...

BD...I really like this discussion. I have been away getting caught up on some work issues after a long vacation, but I finally have a chance to read and think about this issue. One of the really debilitating factors, as Greg and you have tocuhed on, is the materialism foisted upon us by the current economic order. This is a form of mental slavery that really needs to be abolished, and it seems to get worse with time. Is this generation truly lost in the illusion or is that impression all just an illusion? I don't like what I'm seeing. We have a whole lot of people who don't plan a week ahead financially, never mind 10 to 20 years down the road.

Black Diaspora said...

"One of the really debilitating factors, as Greg and you have tocuhed on, is the materialism foisted upon us by the current economic order."

Consumption is the name of the game. Yet, when is enough, enough?

More than 70% of our GNP comes from consumers. Robert Reich stated recently: With the gap between the rich and the middle class growing, that 70% is at risk.

Consider the saliency of this observation. One politician stated that his brother was a successful businessman, in the BBQ business, and was hoping that the Bush Tax Cuts for him would come to an end, but that the portion targeting the middle class would continue.

His reasoning: He didn't mind paying the extra 4% increase that the elimination of the tax cut would impose, but, by narrowing the gap between the rich and others, the others would be able to buy his BBQ, therefore allowing his business to grow and expand.

Most economists agree that the rich don't really need the tax cut and, by not extending it, the economy wouldn't suffer. Besides, giving money to the rich won't stimulate the economy. The reason: The rich are more incline to save than spend.

Materialism to me is the pursuit of things insatiably (driven to do so), especially once the appetite has been sated, or the thirst slaked.

For example: How many cars does one person need? How many houses?

Materialism to me is the elevation of things above people and above life, especially money. And, unfortunately, there're too many examples of that kind of materialism.

Materialism to me is the excessive focus on the body (what pleasures the body in all its myriad forms, not just eating, but watching TV, video games, etc.) to the exclusion of all other pursuits: spiritual pursuits and intellectual pursuits.

Balance is needed.

I'm not saying that material pursuits are bad, or even that they're wrong, but that if things are pursued excessively, the whole of our being suffers--as well as the whole of a society that depends upon that pursuit.

"This is a form of mental slavery that really needs to be abolished, and it seems to get worse with time. Is this generation truly lost in the illusion or is that impression all just an illusion?"

It's an illusion. And the illusion is this: There's not enough.

Believing that there's not enough, and believing that what little we do have may be gone on the morrow, we gorge ourselves today--consuming while the consuming is good.

My brother put it this way: "If someone will give me credit, I'd do a lot of spending."