I came across this new album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) – The Punishment of Luxury. For those of you are unfamiliar, OMD are a band from Merseyside Liverpool and have been long remembered for their hits “Electricity”, in 1979 and the 1980 anti-war song “Enola Gay”. The band achieved broader recognition via their seminal album Architecture & Morality (1981) and its three singles, all of which were international hits.
The “Punishment of Luxury” album is specifically about the global divide. Today the world is more unequal than at any time in world history which is due largely to the fact that 200 years ago everyone was poor. But the increasing wealth of the higher income group has been alarming – America’s top 10% now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90%. The fact that people are much better off materially doesn’t seem to translate into a better mental condition – they seem to be unhappy. If you are in this situation you have undoubtedly got on the hedonic treadmill and the marketing people have got under your skin. It seems that if you don’t have the latest brand of a product you are less worthy of being recognized by your peer group and have less self-respect.
It seems that the very wealthy have the same problems as the rest of us but only on a much larger scale. A research paper from Boston College entitled “Secret fears of the super-Rich found that the top fears of the rich are:
- The rich need increasing amounts of money to make them feel financially secure.
- They feel isolated and don’t share their concerns or stress as they will sound ungrateful.
- Thy worry that their children will become spoilt by inheriting so much wealth or resentful if its too little.
- You are unsure if your friends genuinely like you or your money
- There is constant dissatisfaction with consumption as something better / new is always being launched. They can’t get off the hedonic treadmill
- Parents are concerned that money will rob their children of ambition and getting a job.
The title track is below. It is very OMD for those of you who are familiar with the sound of the band.