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I just bought an Aeron chair and i'm enjoying a good sit in it right now. I also own a nice computer, a few good suits, a nice TV, a TiVo, and a rather upscale cat. Is it morally wrong to love these things when so many people in the world are living in poverty?
- JD

Here at Ask Gothamist, we don't judge people or label them. All kinds of people have all kinds of problems and questions, and we just do our best to help out and give some answers when we can. But since you asked...

How does one define "morally wrong"? There are many different takes on what is morally right and wrong. Depending on your religion, background, political leanings, and a host of other factors, you may find something perfectly fine while another person finds it reprehensible. Let's assume, for the sake of simplifying things, that you want to live your life by the credo "do no harm." Is owning a fancy chair or a nice suit causing harm? If you are concerned about the conditions in the factories where these items are being made, you should do some research on the companies' manufacturing policies. You can start by taking a look at Sweatshopwatch.org. If you feel that you are opposed to the manufacturing conditions, you ought to boycott those companies. Some factory jobs in developing countries (if there are decent working conditions) can actually improve the lives of people living and working there. You might want to check out the book The Accidental Theorist by Paul Krugman if you would like to learn more about this topic. The Economic Policy Institute’s Trade and Globalization page is another good resource.

If you are feeling guilty about your lifestyle and concerned about those who may not be as well off, why not try to help some who are less fortunate? If you feel bad about owning a purebread kitty, try making a contribution to a local animal shelter or feline rescue organization. Donate your old suits to the Salvation Army, or your old computer to a New York City school. Volunteer your time or go without TiVo for a month and make a monetary contribution to support a good cause. And if you want to sympathize with others who are beating themselves up over their bourgeois tendencies, look no further than this blog entry.