I'm sure at one time almost everything we enjoy, or take for granted, was considered a perk for those who had money. Having grown up overseas, there are many ordinary things whose ubiquity I almost haven't gotten over yet, such as air conditioning and carpet. I remember my mom telling me that most Americans owned a car, and many of them even had two. Two cars. What would you do with them?
But there are some luxuries that seem to have been an especial provenance of the rich, either quite recently or in the last few decades. Somehow something changes so they become available to a wider market--maybe they are mass-produced, or more companies cater to the desire. Something happens where suddenly the Joneses and you now have access to this thing. Maybe movies, books and magazines create public demand.
Are trickle-down luxuries a healthy trend? Maybe insofar as they energize the economy and buyers are not ratcheting up credit card debt for them, and feeling discontent without them. And insofar as they are not reckoned to be a "right." I think they have given us, maybe particularly the younger generations, extremely high expectations of life--to put it bluntly, spoiled us rotten. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this, Ricochet readers.
Meanwhile, here is my start of a list of items you used to have to be in the right circles to enjoy, but have become available to the masses as our quality of life has skyrocketed. I'd be curious to see what you would add to it, if you accept the premise:
1. Cruises: Almost everyone I know has been on a cruise. Astonishing. And it seems like cruise ships get more and more lavish.
2. Cellphones? It seems like in the early '90's, it was really impressive to own a huge, clunky mobile phone in your car. Remember in movies, when someone's phone would ring in their vehicle and it seemed so James Bond-ish? Now you're the odd one if you don't own a cell phone.
3. Spas and resorts: These are everywhere.
4. Exotic vacations: like to the Bahamas.
5. Meals at restaurants: I still happen to think going out to Olive Garden or TGI Friday's is an expensive treat. It's amazing that there are plenty of even more pricey venues that enjoy many customers, even in our troubled economy. When did this restaurant-frequenting by us ordinary folks start? And I've noticed in the last three years that restaurant meal prices have gone up--steeply. Yet every night of the week these places are busy.
6. Hot tubs: Not just expensive to buy, but with money to maintain needed, as well.
7. Expensive clothes and accessories: Handbags, shoes, and tank tops that cost hundreds of dollars.
8. Special sports: where participants crank up the price by purchasing extra special equipment, like skiing.
9. Perhaps gourmet cooking: with state-of-the-art tools and fine ingredients--plus lots of time to do it in.
10. Nice cars.
11. Home renovations: with big kitchens with granite countertops in which to hang those gourmet pots and pans, and expensive furniture and decor.
UPDATE: Tempus Fugit brought to mind another one that I had been thinking about the other day and forgot while writing this: home theaters. They used to boggle the mind. Now lots of us have big flat screens with sound systems. No big deal.