U.S. consumers and industry dispose of enough aluminum to rebuild the commercial air fleet every three months; enough iron and steel to continuously supply all automakers; enough glass to fill New York's World Trade Center every two weeks.
Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress, (2004) Chapter 5, note 68.
Under present conditions, people are preoccupied with consumer goods not because they are brainwashed but because buying is the one pleasurable activity not only permitted but actively encouraged by our rulers. The pleasure of eating an ice cream cone may be minor compared to the pleasure of meaningful, autonomous work, but the former is easily available and the latter is not. A poor family would undoubtedly rather have a decent apartment than a new TV, but since they are unlikely to get the apartment, what is to be gained by not getting the TV?
Mass consumption, advertising, and mass art are a corporate Frankenstein; while they reinforce the system, they also undermine it. By continually pushing the message that we have the right to gratification now, consumerism at its most expansive encouraged a demand for fulfillment that could not so easily be contained by products.
Ellen Willis, "Introduction", Beginning to See the Light (1981).