The “Super Size-it” Society FROM JUNE 5, 2002

January 1, 2003 Best Of The Voice

Society’s ever-increasing need to “super size” everything is perpetuating greediness. Do we really need everything to be super sized? What was wrong with the old size? Who told the manufacturers to make everything bigger? The profit-driven companies of North America are making money from super sizing everything from fast food to vehicles to houses. If society continues with the trend to super size everything, we will eventually reap the perils of this mentality.

In the fast food industry, I don’t think you can get regular fries anymore. The size of an order of fries is pretty big to start with and then you have the option of super sizing them. Do you ever finish your super sized fries? And if you do, is that a good thing? Also, if memory serves me correct, the size of a small drink in the old days was about 8 oz. Now, it appears to be 16 oz. If I’m an adult and I can’t finish this drink, how is a small child expected to finish it? Allowing people the option to order super sized portions of food, they will be eating more food than they should be eating. Over time, this will lead to very unhealthy eating habits by eating too much fast food. Society will start to feel the on-slot of Western diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and many types of cancers. Not to mention the “heart stoppers” so commonly associated with a diet laden with fast food: arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), hypertension, and stroke. The irony is the things that are super sized are not generally considered healthy and probably shouldn’t have been super sized in the first place. Drinking 32 oz. of pop is not a recommendation of Canada’s Guide to Healthy Eating and it’s not very appealing to watch a “biggie” person wolf down “biggie” fries. Once a person gets on the fast food merry-go-round of eating super sized portions and eating them frequently, they will always be wanting more -and that in turn creates greed.

The auto industry is also guilty of super sizing. Have you seen the new line of passenger trucks in the past few years? They stand so tall they dwarf the older models and you literally have to use a stepladder to get into them. Driving one of these trucks gives you the feeling you are trying to navigate the Titanic, complete with blind spots because the seats in these trucks are so big you can’t shoulder check around them. Why are trucks being super sized instead of being built smaller, like cars? Does it have something to do with the fact that most new trucks start selling at $35,000 and the manufacturers felt they had to build a bigger truck to justify their bigger price tag? Most people cannot afford a $35,000 truck. Even if they could, they would have a pretty big loan payment for five years. To get around this obstacle, people started leasing new vehicles and now we have a society full of “leasers” who do not own their vehicles. It is the ease of which almost any person can lease a vehicle that has greatly increased people’s greediness. They have discovered they can have whatever they want, whenever they want it, and don’t necessarily have to work very hard or for very long to get it. Sooner or later, we will see the erosion of people’s work ethic if they don’t have to work hard to earn the money to purchase a large-ticket item.

Right along side the auto industry is the housing industry. Have you taken a drive around the new neighbourhoods in your city recently? In fact, you don’t even have to live in a city. Small towns and acreages in the country are also affected. I’m from a family our four and I was raised in a 3-bedroom bungalow that had less than 1,000 sq. ft. Now a day, it is hard to find a new home less than 2,500 sq. ft! These super sized homes are the reason why houses have such hefty price tags on them. A new home with 2,500 sq. ft. sells for about $200,000; depending on what city you live in and in what area of that city. But most of what are seen make up the gargantuan homes that are 5,000 sq. ft. or more. Are young people with degrees that barely have the ink dry on them, who are working in entry level jobs and probably have very young families, expected to buy these homes? It’s not uncommon for people to have to get a loan or gift of great sums of money from their parents in order to put a down payment on a house so they can have affordable mortgage payments. This situation will make a lot of people perpetually house-poor for most of their adult life while they try to keep up with their mortgage payments, taxes, and utility bills. This also means there will be less money for RRSP’s, savings accounts and education funds. Aside from the money, that’s a lot of house to clean and yard to keep, which most busy people today don’t have the time for. And if either you or your spouse lose your job, your chances of going bankrupt in 30 days greatly increases if you have a very large mortgage and are leasing your vehicles. Unless you are raising 13 children, it probably isn’t necessary for you to live in grand opulence in a 5,000 sq. ft. home in the country. And don’t forget, once you buy the house, you have to “live the life”. The very nature of owning such a home would turn most people into a “consumer”, forever purchasing things they need for the new house.

The psychology of wanting more, getting more, becoming dissatisfied with what you have, and then wanting more again, is not considered a good trait. This will put you on the path to Greedy Land with all sorts of bad things happening along the way. People’s spending habits get out of control, their debt load becomes unmanageable, creditors start to hound, and bankruptcy forever looms in the distance. Money issues are a major cause of tension, stress and dissention in a marriage; namely the lack of money. It’s amazing how some people sleep at night considering what they owe, what they make, and what little they have put away. Has anyone taken the time to think about how they are going to live when they get old? We already know that Old Age Security won’t be there for most of society. How do people know their quarter million dollar home will be worth that or more in 20 or 30 years down the road? There is no crystal ball and nobody knows what the future may bring. But living beyond your means and being a greedy consumer now will probably come to an abrupt end at some point in time and the results won’t be pretty.

In the interest of your health, and personal and financial well-being, try to live within your means. Pay off your bills, put some money away, and make being a minimalist trendy!

Diane is a full-time, freelance writer. She specializes in writing technical articles for the oil and gas industry, but also writes feature length magazine articles of all genres, including Calgary-based magazines. She is working towards a Bachelor of General Studies degree.

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