I suggest that you make a very interesting and very instructive experiment.
Ask your friends what it is to cover basic needs
and what is wasteful and excessive luxury.
You will get very interesting answers.
I am afraid that no one will admit that what he
does involves waste and excessive luxury.
What he already has and
is what just covers the basic necessities of civilized life,
and represents the minimum necessary for
the preservation of his social acceptance.
What he doesn't have and he doesn't plan to acquire soon,
that would be wasteful and excessive luxury.
Anyone who has an air conditioner
will assure you that it covers a basic need to
survive under our current living conditions.
He will say the same for his TV, his stereo, his
his summer house, his swimming pool, his pleasure
boat and everything else he owns.
Those who don't have them and don't plan to
get them soon will tell you that such things are
wasteful and excessive opulence.
Tell me now, how should we determine basic needs?
If you are foolhardy enough to claim that
covering of basic needs means only
not starving and not freezing,
they will look at you with that gaze that says:
"How sorry we are for this mental state you are in".
And one more thing.
If you say to someone:
do you consider a car a basic need?
How did your grandfather live without one?
He will answer you that in his grandfather's time,
when there were few cars, because they were made
by hand, there was only one car in the neighbourhood,
and with good reason it belonged to the doctor so he
could visit his patients.
Today, when technical development has come
so far that cars are manufactured in thousands by
automatic machines without a man lifting a finger, and
everyone in the neighbourhood already has one, why
shouldn't he have one? Is a car perhaps a bad thing?
What can you answer?
And if you say to someone else:
my dear, do you think an air conditioner is vital?
How did your grandmother live without one?
She will answer that her grandmother lived
in a small house in a garden surrounded by other
houses with their gardens, allowing the sea breeze to pass
unhindered between them and enter from the open window.
She on the contrary lives in an apartment in a
surrounded by other huge blocks which burn up in the sun.
The sea breeze is something she
has heard used to exist once.
Now if she opens her window, the
only thing that will come in will be
the noise from the road and the
exhaust fumes of the cars.
What can you answer her?
Trying to determine basic needs is futile.
On the one hand everyone sees things differently,
on the other hand continuing technical development
provides us with new possibilities to meet needs beyond
basic ones, while our ever-changing life style constantly
creates new needs.
What can we do then?
If we are unable to determine our basic needs,
where can we find the measure to understand
when the waste that must be limited starts?