The value of mediocrity

Each of us reserves a portion of our income for costly purchases. Typically, we’re well aware of what we’re doing. Some of the men in my extended family are gearheads. A few of my friends splurge on travel. Not a small number of people among my acquaintances, naturally, collect beautiful books. A lot of Americans are house-proud, and some are obsessed with their wardrobes.

To fund our pleasurable or righteous obsessions, we economize when we spend on the things that don’t matter as much to us. I’ve seen parents invest in sports and cut corners on education for their children. I’ve noticed people with extremely modest living quarters driving impressive cars. A devotion to healthy living and environmental conservation, for some, involves spending money that their neighbors would have applied toward entertainment or hairstyling.

In our pursuit of happiness, we permit ourselves, and certainly ought to permit each other, to decide where to cut costs. Fortunately, in the United States, there are as many sources for cut-rate consumer goods as there are for luxury goods. The variety and freedom of choice is not a problem, folks. It’s a good thing.

And yes, I do see education in the U.S. as a consumer good that many parents make great sacrifices to obtain for their children.

Keds

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