One last post on The Great Reset, which I recommend. I've had this in the queue for a while and forgot to publish. Richard Florida writes:
Over the past half century or so, the amount of money the average American family spends on housing and cars has skyrocketed. From 1950 to the mid-1980s, the amount allotted for housing and cars doubled from 22 percent to 44 percent of its budget. (At the same time, the amount of the average American family had to devote to health care rose threefold, from 5.2 percent in the late 1950s to 14.8 percent by the year 2000.) A generation ago, all of life's basic necessities—housing, transportation, health insurance, education, and taxes—accounted for 54 percent of the average family's income; today, they account for 75 percent of it. ...
Still, with the basics sucking up so much of the family budget, the amount of money Americans spend on electronics, a reasonable proxy for high technology, increased from 1 percent in 1959 to just 1.6 percent by 2000, while the amount they spend on entertainment, a proxy for experiences, actually declined from 5.8 percent in 1950 to 3.9 percent in the year 2000.
It's ridiculous to label that second SUV in the garage a "basic necessity" just because it falls into the category of transportation. Same thing with that summer home by the lake. But the point is that although trade and technology made the basic necessities increasingly cheaper, Americans chose to spend a big chunk of their surplus savings on bigger and more expensive versions of those same basic necessities. That's money that could have been spent more wisely on creative endeavors, entertainment, or even cool gadgets.
This isn't entirely regrettable---there's nothing wrong with having a nicer home, with nicer things inside it. But we took it too far. Florida thinks the tech boom of the 90s might have represented a chance for us to move away from this trend. But the boom went bust, and in the aftermath we went right back to putting our money in housing. (And actually, a lot of it was borrowed money, so not really ours at all.)