When I heard that Huggies had begun to sell a “limited-edition jeans diaper,” and that its bigger rival Pampers was offering a new diaper line carrying the imprimatur of the fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, it struck me as a throwback. Could there be a more absurd example of the sort of mindless conspicuous consumption that marked the years before “credit default swap” entered the national vocabulary? I seem to remember a lot of declarations that the urge to buy anything signaling nonthrifty behavior had been left behind as decisively as a house with an upside-down mortgage. Even TV commercials said so!