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Customer Review

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but too subjective. Too little real "meat"., May 8, 2006
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This review is from: Green with Envy: A Whole New Way to Look at Financial (Un)Happiness (Hardcover)
By interviewing some folks about their intimate monetary foibles / decisions, and sharing some of her feelings on the subject, Shira offers some insight into how many Americans are digging themselves ever-deeper into debt.

On the positive side, I think her observation that many folks are likely completely deluding themselves about the enormity of their debt problem, by only focusing on the minimum payments is likely correct. Her observation that such self-delusion leads to economic disaster if carried to extremes is unsurprising.

Positive also, was her input from various sources that it is so "taboo" to discuss money matters in this country, that folks all too often fail to seek help (i.e. advice), even when the problem is clearly reaching crisis proportions. Apparently this fits with the commonly cited feeling people have of being "alone" in their financial mess.

On the negative side, there's not much new here. The idea that psychology is a key part of modern economic thought is certainly not new, and several books detail such findings with the type of empirical measurements that give such subjects meaningful context. Also the litany of negative psychological impacts that such thinking is clearly having on the folks Shira interviews (but aren't actually named), such as the hedonic treadmill, are well known and documented.

She tends to use words like "we all" have such tendencies or traits more than I'm comfortable with. Stating that many or most or nearly all would be far more credible.

As stated in one of the editorial reviews, the solutions seem to be little more than new-age platitudes, at best.

Given how much focus was given to envy as being a major contributor to this problem, and how much the peddlers of goods from electronic toys to homes to debt of many forms keep such envy ever-present in peoples' minds -- it seems like platitudes will be meaningless until something can bring about enough pain or outrage to raise peoples' awareness to the true cost of such behavior.

Shira does correctly observe that this country hasn't known significant overall financial hardship requiring actual sacrifice since the forced rationing of WWII. Sadly enough, it may take a financial awakening of that scale (the source could be debt overload instead of war) to bring about meaningful change.
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