Capitalism as a system needs nothing but freedom and a system of property. The world around us simply reflects the desire of the average individual for more stuff. If the average person had no preference for anything beyond shelter and food, it would be no less a capitalist society. It’s not obvious what measure we’re using to judge whether the majority of people are working ‘too much’, fuelling an insatiable appetite for shopping and thus ignoring other things of value. The stated desire of rappers and celebrities doesn’t seem a great measure of the population’s feeling as a whole. To say that levels of credit card debt and longer working hours mean people no longer value family and friends seems a very strong conclusion. It gives no heed to the quality of time spent on these things or to the genuine benefits families derive from the goods purchased. I don’t see why the modest individual on £25k p.a who spends his free time watching TV with friends is any better than the CEO who has less free time but is able to send kids to the best schools, afford private medical care for her parents, enjoy family holidays to nice locations and donate money to charity. In any case, I reckon wanting money + consumerism get a bad rap. There’s much literature to suggest people are very resilient emotionally. Survey responses used to gauge peoples level of life satisfaction show that those who’ve suffered great losses in the past, e.g. though sudden disability, don’t reveal a lower level of happiness with their lives in the long run. Conversely, lottery winners don’t report a higher level of satisfaction over time. The money and possessions you’ve gained or lost in the past will probably have little impact on your life satisfaction over time. Other less tangible values will be given greater weight. That view isn’t incompatible with a desire for more money and more stuff. Things can be worth having even if their impact on long run happiness is zero. If I took away the mobile phones of everyone here, there’d be much inconvenience, but surely you wouldn’t be less happy a person. If I downgraded your cars, it’d be annoying, but you wouldn’t sink into depression. Even though these material things don’t impact overall live satisfaction, we’d all agree they are worth having. These material things make every day tasks easier. They being about temporary feelings of happiness in their use which shouldn’t be dismissed given that we only ever live in the present moment. Our ipods, televisions and computers have genuine value and are far from unnecessary.