There have always been people who believed that happiness is having expensive toys.  But there has been a change:

“I bought a Keaton Batmobile in 2011,” writes one 52-year-old man in the Wall Street Journal .  “It’s a movie prop; it was used as the stand-in-car in the filming of the 1992 Warner Bros. movie ‘Batman Returns,’ starring Michael Keaton.  I put a Corvette engine in it and re-engineered things so it’s drivable and safe.  It has blinkers, taillights, and five cameras in it so you can see everything around you.  With all the upgrades, I easily spend a half-million dollars on it .... In the past few years, no matter what troubles have come along – business problems, divorce problems – I always think:  Yeah … but I own the Batmobile!  And that makes everything OK.”

Two generations ago, people flaunted their wealth, but never their immaturity.  If they weren’t grown up, they faked it.  They were embarrassed to be known for being shallow.  Now they expect applause for it.  Triviality is not their bane, but their ambition.

Tomorrow:  Edward Rubin’s New Morality