To respond to Jonathon's criticism: nearly every critic Williams mentions seems to find nothing good about consumer culture, and while there may very well be nothing good about consumer culture, I was trying to find some positive aspects to it -- to play devil's advocate, which I enjoy doing in discussions. It wasn't really my intention either to "gloss over" or to not "gloss over" the realities of economic inequality, since that's really not what I was choosing to talk about at the time. I actually found it a bit insulting to be accused of not being aware of economic inequality, since it enters my mind every day. But poverty in America (and elsewhere, where it is much worse) is an entirely different and lengthy discussion. Of course, it is more fortunate to have been born rich (which I was not, personally), but it is still also a fortunate thing to have been born American (is it not?), and should we not be grateful, and show gratefulness, for that good fortune? I tend to think that gratefulness for whatever good fortune is thrown in our laps, randomly as it were, has a way of putting things into perspective. (By the way, thank you, Bart, for understanding what I saying about being grateful).