Luxury without guilt

The Philadelphia PBS station recently featured a program about “affluenza.” Its premise was that Americans spend far too much money and time on meaningless, disposable things that ruin the environment. But rather than suggest realistic ways to cut back on waste, the program promoted its own brand of “frugal living” as the most meaningful solution. Its definition of frugality seemed to be to quit your job and start a compost heap in the backyard. I personally found its guilt-about-gilt stance somewhat self-righteous, but it did provoke an interesting question: Are luxury and frugality mutually exclusive? I don’t believe that they are. Owning a luxury automobile doesn’t mean you can’t conserve energy by walking a half-mile to the video store instead of driving. You can recycle both grocery bags and Neiman Marcus bags. Buying expensive department-store hand cream instead o

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