The problem with socialists is that they do not appreciate creativity. They see all creativity as “working for the man”. Especially at the level of federal government, they seem only concerned with trying to stop people from creating anything. That’s why they want to tax every activity to the point that people never leave their house. The federal government has spent its efforts in the last few decades on things that are non-productive or negative. The government’s involvement in the green movement is more about conservation than it is about anything else. All of this has decreased the wealth of the nation and, well, you see the results. No matter what you do the gov wants to stop you or tax you into giving up.
And those who run the corporations, and the idle rich, care only about increasing their possessions. They do not measure themselves or others by their creativity. There are exceptions but they usually come in the form of self-glorification through charity, be it perceived or real. They say, “Look at me. See how much I give to charity? See how I coerce my employees to give to charity?”, but they only care about how it benefits their public image, how much fame it gives them. Charity requires very little effort compared to creativity. Creativity is hard. It requires taking risks, and that is exactly where the conflict with government comes in. Socialists hate risk takers.
One of the biggest reasons why people choose possessions over creativity is because they are made to struggle, their entire life, just to pay the bills. People do not see any potential benefit from their creativity so they don’t even try. Its easier to get quick gratification by buying a BMW or a big screen TV or 50 pairs of shoes. Add to that the government letting big corporations ignore the copyright laws while also allowing them to attack individuals with the same hammer. Big government supports big business and vice versa, all to subjugate the individual. Both consider the individual their enemy. You cannot oppress a civilization into success.
Aquatank, you have identified that modern civilization wastes a lot. That may be true but it is caused by circumstances of economy; people are allowed to buy what they want and the only way they can afford to do so is if the products are cheap enough. The unfortunate downside is that cheap products don’t last very long, and therefore it creates a lot of garbage. Thinking that ancient societies had higher quality stuff, Egypt had lots of stuff made of gold, and that made them prosperous is incorrect. Their civ collapsed anyway. Creating or not creating a lot of garbage does not determine the success or failure of a civilization. Having or not having the brains to solve the economic dilemmas does.