The high cost of living is a direct contributor to chronic stress. While there are numerous explanations for the rising cost of living; the one key driver that nobody dares discuss is the state-cartel (crony capitalism) structure of our economy.
Cartels (defense, energy, sickcare, education, etc.) avoid competition, and are enabled and enforced by the State (government).
This explains why sickcare and education costs have skyrocketed far above the rate of inflation. Apologists try to invoke Baumol to explain the lack of productivity in sickcare and education, but the primary cause is the cartel structure of these industries which ruthlessly eliminates any real competition.
Another factor few dare mention is debt-serfdom. By the time the brainwashed consumer has loaded up on the “absolutely necessary” debts–$100,000+ for college, $200,000 for a home mortgage, $20,000 for a vehicle loan, and whatever he/she can swing in credit card debt – the options to escape stress shrivel.
Bankruptcy and opting out is one option, but that requires sacrificing all the signifiers of identity and success – the very factors in a consumerist society that establish not just identity; but self-worth and personhood.
In other words: eliminate the real sources of stress and you bring down the entire economic, political and social order.
How badly do you want to hang on to the system as it now stands ???