Since the end of WW II, the American lifestyle has been distinguished by the idea that more is better. Families are smaller, but houses are twice as big. The road system is vastly improved, but consumers are driving off road vehicles with the capability of crossing the outback.
The average human needs about 2000 calories per day, but a single Whopper Value Meal with large fries and a large drink has 1375 calories. And Costco is now selling 80-inch televisions.
For seventy years, the mantra for Americans has been that more is better. More space, more things, more horsepower, more calories, more choices and more debt. The consequence of three generations of increased accumulation and consumption is a federal debt approaching $16 trillion, 25 million diabetics, student loans topping $1 trillion, a decaying infrastructure, lengthier commutes and a widespread fear that America's best days are behind her.
As depressing as all of this sounds, all hope is not lost. At their core, Americans are incredibly resilient and uniquely inventive. The yearning for a richer life isn't about to end, but the definition of "rich" is undergoing a dramatic makeover. The push for less personal and government debt is an encouraging sign. Automobiles are becoming amazingly efficient, and a generation from now 50+ MPG vehicles will be common. Digital technology is transforming the workplace by making it possible for many employees to work from home or at remote offices where traffic is less of a problem. And there are signs that the diabetes/obesity tsunami may have crested.
The "Age of More" may not be over yet, but it is fading fast. And a new "Age of Balance" is emerging.