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Affluenza. When Too Much is Never Enough

Affluenza. When Too Much is Never Enough
By Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss
Allen & Unwin
RRP $24.95

Once upon a time in our Western society, people looked to Christianity, or at least the church, to determine truth, right and wrong. With the onset of the enlightenment, science became the ultimate arbiter of truth.

These authors argue that in today’s world truth, right and wrong are more and more being determined by commercial factors. In others words, if something will make a profit, it is now the “right” thing to do.

This is the worldview that Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss set out to expose in their book, Affluenza. When Too Much is Never Enough. These two men from the Australia Institute – a public interest think-tank – pull no punches in claiming our whole society is sick with over consumption.

With arguments showing that doctors are more influenced by pharmaceutical company advertising than scientific literature; that 25% of British children’s first words will be brand names; how we could ever vote for tax-cuts for the rich while letting health slide; and how we gambled away our vote buying a baby bonus; their argument is compelling and prophetic.

As I read this book St. Paul’s “secret” to contentment in any situation rang in the back of my mind (Philippians 4:10-13). The authors are not Christians, but they speak with a prophetic voice the church needs to rediscover. Our apathy to affluenza is a much more insidious problem than our over-preoccupation with sexuality.

The authors don’t just complain but offer ways off the treadmill. Down-shifting and a “new politics” will challenge what you are doing. If you’re more technically minded, Clive Hamilton’s best-selling first book on the subject, Growth Fetish, is also a must read for those wanting help to burst forth from the political and economic malaise of our society.