Commentary by Terry Anker
New Year’s Eve is one of those. St. Patrick’s Day is too. These are counted among the days when good, common, folk are encouraged and even expected to behave irresponsibly. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m all for having a good time. And occasionally, the fun includes an adult beverage or two. But what’s the pleasure of racing headfirst into the drunk tank?
We live in an age of excess. Government is getting bigger. Everything on the Kardashians is getting bigger. TV’s are getting bigger. Supersize seems to be the new medium. More. Bigger. Faster. Is it human nature to covet exceeding last year’s accomplishments? Competition and continuous improvement are virtuous endeavors. It is good to seek to enhance and upgrade routinely. But do we sometimes mistake growth for advancement? When is our desire for extra an excess?
Collectively, we eat too much and the data shows it. Portion sizes have bloated to unprecedented levels. Some would argue that we consume too much of everything – food, fuel, natural resources, health care, to name a few. We drive ourselves to ever out-do what came before. It wasn’t that long ago that a 30-inch television was an amazing luxury. Now, it is disposable. And, life marches on.
What is the cost of our need for more? Certainly, Americans struggle to save money. Our savings rates, compared to consumption, are abysmal. Also, our sports are now “extreme” and our parties epic. Likewise our waistlines are buckling under the long-term effect. With March returns St. Patrick’s Day and its celebration often includes a good deal of beer, Jameson’s and jocularity. But in a culture where more is more, can we hope to survive the party in tact? If amateur drinkers are the most dangerous, aren’t we better off to stay home on amateur night?