Stuff is at the heart of economics. Stuff is what is produced by economic activity. The whole idea of a growing society is based on producing stuff which is (to be) consumed by people. In today’s world people consume a lot of stuff, when compared to yester century’s world. More economic activity means more natural resources are processed, more stuff is consumed and more waste is generated. Some consumption is good, some is bad (in terms of both the stuff itself and the waste it generates).

Paul Graham (the YCombinator guy and also a LISPer) is worried about stuff. He gives his reasons for this:

Most of the stuff I accumulated was worthless, because I didn’t need it.

Unless you have some plan for selling that valuable thing you got so cheaply, what difference does it make what it’s “worth?”

once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of stuff, it starts to own you rather than the other way around.

Kids are less perceptive. They build a coarser model of their surroundings, and this consumes less energy.

They make the experience of buying stuff so pleasant that “shopping” becomes a leisure activity.

Nothing owns you like fragile stuff.

You’re going to have to think about that thing for years—perhaps for the rest of your life. Every thing you own takes energy away from you. Some give more than they take. Those are the only things worth having.

If I want to spend money on some kind of treat, I’ll take services over goods any day.

The last one is especially worth giving a thought. Either you can get good or services for it. True, services cost you more, but it is a zero future overhead stuff, while goods are not. They involve some overhead.

So the moral at the end of the day is, own stuff if it only provides value to you and makes your life better.


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