There may have been a time back in the 1970's when I believed that ridiculous Live Simply, So that Others May Simply Live slogan. Other decisions from that time suggest that I did indeed envision a world consumption economy in which, if I gave up things and didn't use them, there would be more for everyone else. There is still some residual of those years in our family culture, of things we do not buy, or do not quickly replace, in order to "live lightly on the land." We run cars into the ground - at least, the ones that Dad drives. We were way behind the cultural curve in frequency of going out to eat, and still only do so mostly when traveling. Yes, I must have believed that American consumption was destroying the world, and refrained from even more extremity only because I was grading our family on a curve.
It is the classic false assumption along the political divide in developed countries, that believes in static economies, in which Harry has more than Tom only at Tom's expense. It remains a common belief, and one can still see infographics showing how Americans use more electricity, plastics, or arugula than other places. We use way more than our share of American flags and Dodge Caravans, too, and for the same reasons. We make more, we didn't steal them.
There is of course a sense in which the equation is true, if one forgoes some material good or service in order to send the money to those who have less. That part works just fine. There are also resources that are so finite and inelastic that Harry's use does indeed prevent Tom from ever partaking. Yet these are not so common as one would think. Despite the dire warnings of scarcity, for example, I think we will find adequate substitutes for whale oil. But it remains important to remember: simply denying oneself does not do The World any good.
It might do you some good, though. While I became increasingly convinced of the foolishness of the idea as a political and social tool, I lost touch with the more basic reason for simplicity. It is likely to improve your focus on God and your daily bread; it decreases not only your materialism and self-dependence, but your rush to judgements and comparisons as well.
I say that I seek simplicity more than ever now, and that is not untrue. But it isn't deeply true either. I started down that road at a brisk pace, then decided to just camp along the side pretty quickly so long as I was farther along than most folks. Still grading on the curve, apparently.