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Monday, February 28, 2011

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Ever heard the saying, “keeping up with the Joneses”? It means replacing something you own—a coat, a car, or something else—with a more expensive version, because you saw a friend or neighbor with a nicer one than you owned.
            Several years ago, I read a story that made me think of this practice. E. R. Eastman wrote about the time he and his wife went to an auction.
            Before the auction, they saw an empty pork barrel they wanted to buy. They became separated and, when the time came to auction off the barrel, neither could see the other.
            The auctioneer was a friend of theirs, and he could not resist—he kept raising the price way over the actual value, as man and wife stubbornly fought to win the bid.
            I think that is what materialism does to people. In trying to bid against the Joneses, we raise the price of things way over their actual value.

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