Integrity Matters Broadcasts

April 15, 2009

Wants vs Needs

Yet another friend has passed along thoughtful observations regarding the current challenges we face, certainly in the United States, but in other parts of the world as well.  He writes:

I believe that the current economic crisis is largely the result of the following factors:

  • Over the last 50 or so years, we Americans have become a society of Excess Consumption.  The true American Pastime has become buying things we don’t need.  We have confused our wants for our needs.  If I live to be 100 years old, I might not need to buy a new shirt!
  • Over the last 10-15 years, the credit markets recognized this desire of us to buy everything we wanted and they further enabled us to buy more, with easy money.  It was like giving drugs to an addict.
  • The excess consumption described above drove incredible value inflation in both the stock market and the real estate market and created an economy geared to produce far beyond what our true needs require.

Now that the economic bubble has burst, we are faced with business failures and massive job losses, largely caused by us now starting to purchase more for our needs and less for our wants.  There will, no doubt, continue to be a lot of pain as our production economy adjusts to the level required of a needs-based buying world.

. . .  if we really understand some of the major forces at work, we will have a better chance to shape our businesses to succeed over the next 5-10 years.”

Good thoughts from a good friend.  He has certainly caused me to think again about how one spends time, energy and money – and, to what end; for what purpose; and, for what legacy?

Entitlement, greed, “keeping-up” with whomever and for whatever reasons, jealousy, pride, ego, simply wanting those we love not to have to “go through” what we might have experienced – and the list goes on – the results are the same.  And the response is no longer, as the NASA center might have said:  “Houston, we have a problem” – because now, we all have a problem.  The cartoon character, Pogo, had it right, all along:  “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

In the course of putting together this April 15th Broadcast (newsletter), I came across an exercise designed for younger people, which applies to adults also, regarding the difference between needs and wants.  The electronic process “hit me between the eyes.”   Those of you who regularly read this Broadcast rarely lack sufficient clarity to differentiate between needs and wants, but the chances are pretty good that folks you know, including some children and grandchildren, might benefit from the enlightenment that comes from this link:      
Assuming you will check it out and then share it with others, let us know how it worked.

And, please pass along your observations about how we got to where we are – culturally, economically and politically.

Here is what we have in mind:

  1. What do you think has caused our challenges? 
  2. What do you know has been driving the current downward spiral?

Hoping to hear from you!


James F. Bracher  

Dimension Five Consultants, Inc. 
Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership  
P.O. Box 22467

Carmel, California  93922  

And at: 
James F. (Jim) Bracher, Director
Executives in Residence
University Corporation at Monterey Bay
California State University Monterey Bay 
100 Campus Center,  
Building 201 - Suite 101
Seaside, California  93955
Phone: (831) 582-5015
Phone:  direct: (831) 582-5038
(831) 582-5019 Fax

Home Page | About Us | Ask Bracher | Services | Resources | Contact Us


©Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership and Dimension Five Consultants, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 22467, Carmel, California 93922