What’s an Essential Today May be a Luxury Tomorrow
And that pretty much defines a Luxury Essential. If you believe an item is something you require to survive, what needs to happen to keep it in your life?
For example, let’s say climate change increases pests, which then kill off forest farms used to create wood-based products, what happens to things like paper and popsicle sticks? Are these still necessary? Or will these become too difficult to obtain?
What Turns an Essential Item into a Luxury Item?
Short version is that it goes from being a commodity (something readily available) into a something scarce (difficult to find and/ or the price goes up a lotta lot).
How Today’s Essential Becoming Extravagant Impacts Your Life
By definition, an essential is something you believe you can’t live without. Now, some will say the only true necessities are water, food, air, and shelter. A few folks might add love (romantic and otherwise) to the list, too. Albeit LovePlus seems to be taking care of this last need, at least for Japanese men.
This means that if you’re used to having all the clean water you want at the twist of a tap, your life will drastically change if this is no longer true. Actually, we here in the US are spoiled when it comes to water, even those who think they’re in a drought, such as Arizona and California.
But when you look at it globally, even these areas have significantly more access to safe, clean water than many areas of the world such as India, Mexico, and Africa,
Ok, that was a simple one.
So what do we, as Americans, consider to be necessary for daily life that might be become cost-prohibitive, or even completely unavailable?
Let’s use the example at the opening of this post, that of bugs killing of forest farms. How will your life change if wood-based products, such as paper, become hard to find, or too expensive to buy? No more printing web-pages all willy-nilly, for starters. You may have to use hankies instead of Kleenex. What about toilet paper? Or, heaven forbid, Amazon boxes?
What if it’s not bugs, but climate change? This could impact many crops, not just trees. Bio-fuels will become more expensive. As might breakfast cereal. Or the toast you have with your morning eggs.
Or in the case of the page where I first read of this term, beer.
That’s right, beer. Climate change is making the raw ingredients for beer more costly. Well not yet, but it seems a few forward thinkers coined this phrase for their favorite weekend beverage. And they’re using this highly-relatable example to help skeptics better understand the current ecological changes, and how they might be impact.
I mean, really. Tell a football fan climate change is messing up crops, he may not care. He (or she?) has no idea how this impacts him, and may well assume that it doesn’t.
Why? Because all his fresh food comes from the grocery store, The flowers he buys for his wife come from the florist. He doesn’t see the difficulties except in rising prices.
Now tell him how the well-established balance of how much water falls and where it falls is absolutely crucial to his beverage of choice. See? He’s sitting up and listening this time.
Other Reasons a Must-Have Can Become a Self-Indulgence
Same with bees. Bees are dying. Oh, goody, he might think. They’re just pests anyway. They buzz and sting, and one of his kids is allergic to them,
Now tell him that bees pollinate the crops needed to make beer. Again, suddenly it’s relatable, It means something,
As if this wasn’t scary enough, things we consider to be essential may become luxuries for other reasons, as well. Like, say, oh, I dunno … a change in trade policies.
That’s right, our current administration significantly increased tariffs on Chinese goods, and China retaliated by increasing tariffs on things they import from us. Unfortunately, many of the things China imports from us are the resources they use to make the things that get imported back into the US.
This means the double-digit tariff we just put on Chinese goods could increase the things we buy in two ways. First, things made in China from Chinese resources are going to go up. Second, things made in China from US resources are going to go up twice; once en route from the US to China, and again on the trip back from China into the US. Or in the case of some materials, China has stopped buying US resources altogether.
Tariffs are Already Causing Troubles for Us in the US
Regardless of my party preferences and how I may feel about the current administration’s other policies, this one item is already being felt across the country. According to Fortune Magazine, jobs have already been lost by just this one policy change alone, and this happened only a few months ago.
As an example, remember the Solar article? Good thing we put this in place earlier this year because it’d be tough to do now. Many of the parts are no longer available, are very difficult to obtain, or have gone up significantly in price (or all of the above!). For instance, the second backup battery nearly doubled in cost, and has been on backorder for five months.
Why? Because the resources are being shipped from the US into China to be made into ginormous batteries which are then shipped back to sell to US consumers. But China has stopped accepting plastics and glass, or the resources to make plastics and glass, from the United States.
This in turn means that the US workers who collect, create, grow, and process these resources no longer have jobs.
Wait … Wasn’t This Supposed to be About Our Daily Necessities?
While the guys taking credit for coining this phrase meant specifically climate change and beer, we explored how this can be used across products and reasons for our daily fundamentals turning into frivolities. This meant we jumped across a lot of topics. Hopefully things stayed all flowy and sensical?
How Will Essential Luxuries Impact Your Life?
What do you rely on every day, week, or month? Which of these basics do you think might turn into indulgences, and why or how?
Or why do you think this new-to-me concept is overblown, or misguided?
Looking forward to your respectful comments and discourse!