The extravagant use of expensive goods or services in order to demonstrate status and wealth leads to a large proportion of a country's economic resources being allocated to the production of luxury goods and consumer durables which need to be periodically replaced.
This term was heavily used by Thorstein Veblen in his Theory of the Leisure Class, published in 1899. According to a 1991 Forbes magazine report, there were 71 billionaires in the USA listed out of the 400 richest people in America, whose net worth reached $288 billion.
Men are dehumanized not only by the work situation but also by the ends for which society uses work, chiefly consumption for its own sake. The unproductive acquisition of goods has become the primary means of achieving social status in the community. The yearning for achievement and the instinct for workmanship tends more and more to shape itself into a straining to excel others in pecuniary achievement. If consumption then becomes "conspicuous", it is because in an increasingly heterogeneous and differentiated society, there is no ready means of acquiring status except by spending money and acquiring goods. The industrial revolution has thus replaced all workmanship with labour and the result has been that products have become objects for consumption rather than things which are there to be used.