If you have kids and are much of a Dr. Seuss fan, then you’ve probably read Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. We were reading it to our two little girls a few nights ago when a part of it caught my attention. I suddenly realized that Dr. Seuss was financially savvy too.
Here’s the excerpt:
“At the fork of the road in the Vale of Va-Vode, five foot-weary salesmen have laid down their load. All day they’ve raced round in the heat, at top speeds, unsuccessfully trying to sell Ziffer-Zoot Seeds which nobody wants because nobody needs.”
What’s interesting is that I feel that I’ve bought these same seeds before. Now granted, they weren’t called Ziffer-Zoof seeds. Rather, I purchased fancy argyle socks, a new laptop even though the old one still worked, and a deal on Groupon that was great but not within my budget.
The point is that I bought products or services that I did not need. I just wanted them.
Dr. Seuss, though, teaches a very interesting lesson. The Ziffer-Zoof Seed salesmen aren’t having any success because the people of Whoville, or whatever realm they are in, don’t want what they don’t need. To help explain, I’m going to talk a little bit about the good ol’ days.
Life in the 1800s – A simpler time
But definitely a harder time by several standards. Due to a number of factors, such as a lack of refrigeration for most of the century, families spent most of their time working to support themselves (whether it be in or out of the home). Many families had to churn their own butter. Money was carefully saved in order to buy land or a home, rather than debt financing one. Clothes were mended and mended and then turned into rags once they could not be mended anymore.
Americans had wants, but their time, money, and energy were spent on satisfying needs and often foregoing wants.
Life in 2011 – Luxury after luxury
For most Americans, we have more luxuries than any other people in any other time has ever had or even dreamed of having. The modern grocery store is a logistical miracle. As a result, we have learned to rely less on ourselves. We spend more time and money pursuing our wants because our needs are so readily met. Everything is $0 Down OAC.
Americans spend their time, money, and energy satisfying our wants and foregoing our needs, which are often future needs such as retirement.
Satisfying wants is not a bad thing
But it can have bad side effects. Since we don’t have to focus on meeting our needs, we can easily become consumed with meeting our wants. So rather than spending our time being productive and bringing home the bacon, we are off spending the bacon on Ziffer-Zoof Seeds, which no one should want because nobody needs.
Late night infomercials have a PhD in selling Ziffer-Zoof Seeds. “Not only does this knife slice-n-dice and clean up after itself, but you’ll receive a second set completely free if you Act Now!” Why do I need or want two sets of the same knives? Why do I even need new knives? I should just sharpen the ones I have.
We simply need a fundamental shift in attitudes. We need to stop masking wants as needs and learning to forego now so we don’t have to forego later.
From now on, call it what it is
The next time you hear the siren call of the Ziffer-Zoof Seeds salesman, which may come in the mall, online, on TV or as the little devil on your shoulder, have the control to call what it is – Seeds of Destruction that Nobody Wants Because Nobody Needs.
What Ziffer-Zoof Seeds have you bought lately?