Why Everything Is Crap (And What To Do About It)

When I flew first class for the first time, I couldn’t believe at how much more comfortable it was.

No wait lines.

No guy in front of me reclining his seat into my already jammed up knees.

No fighting for elbow placement on the small sliver of armrest you’re apparently supposed to share with the guy beside you in coach.

And suddenly it occurred to me: this is how flying used to be… for EVERYBODY.

Go to Google Images, type in “1960 airplane seats,” and prepare to have your mind blown.

“Coach” back then looks a lot like first class today, doesn’t it?

So what happened?

Competition between airlines heated up, margins shrank, and seat density went up to rectify.

You see, innovation is only ONE of the mechanisms by which goods and services can be offered at low prices.

The other mechanism–not nearly as popular but much more widespread–is degradation.

In other words, if a company cannot INNOVATE their way to high quality and low price, they will DEGRADE their way to low quality and low price.

It’s the ugly secret of how supposedly “innovative” (but actually degradative) companies satisfy consumer demand for dirt cheap prices in increasingly competitive markets.

And it’s not just the airline industry.

It’s everywhere.

Our FOOD is artificially cheap because it has been degraded:

To get the same quality food your grandparents enjoyed fifty years ago, you now have to buy organic, grass-fed, and free range.

Our FURNITURE is artificially cheap because it has been degraded: it’s all particle board.

If you want the same quality furniture your grandparents had, you now have to buy custom-built, bespoke, and handmade.

Our TOYS are artificially cheap because they, too have been degraded:

Toys used to be made primarily of metal and wood. Now they’re made of plastic. If you want to buy quality toys today, you have to go to boutique toy stores and pay top dollar.

It’s all around us, like a slow, decades-long sleight of hand trick.

We’re like the frog that is boiled to death, the water heating up too slowly for us to notice.

Until we wake up one day and realize almost everything we buy is shit.


I know it feels extravagant. Wasteful. Ostentatious even.

And yes, I know it means your money won’t go as far. You won’t be able to buy as much stuff.

Do it anyways.


Because you can’t build an inspired life with shitty components.

You can’t run a life of excellence on garbage fuel.

You can’t go to the next level of your own personal evolution if your everyday life is propped up with cardboard and plastic.

So my challenge to you this week is this:

The next time you have a purchase decision to make, ask yourself what is the PREMIUM product or service in this category?

Is the product or service I usually buy of high quality, or is it a shadow of what this category once offered… a diluted, degraded, watered-down simulacrum that runs counter to my quest for excellence?

Is this so-called “premium” version in fact simply a return to the qualitative standard that used to be the norm?

Then, to the extent you can afford… pull the trigger.

BUY the higher cloth count sheets.

BUY the double stitch shirt.

BUY the first class ticket so you’re rested and on your game when you get to that critical business meeting.

BUY that grass-fed beef so you can fuel your mind and body with the materials they need to perform at the highest level.

Spurn the degraded, invest in the premium.

Because “premium” is the new standard fare.


  1. I love tbis!!had I found you!! Seems like I have been a third way man for a while….but still need to keep moving forward
    Thanks for the insightful words!!! My family and I have switched to only buying the highest quality foods and sometimes I feel nuts for doing it because it’s so expensive. But!! It’s worth it. We are a almost never sick!!!!

Speak Your Mind