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Reply #9: Consumerism, savings, or infrastructure?? [View All]

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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-05-06 12:15 AM
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9. Consumerism, savings, or infrastructure??
Somebody (I'm lousy with remembering names) once explained to me that different countries/cultures base their national economic policies on one of these three prevalent priorities - priorities reflected in the habits of the population regarding marginal disposable income. In other words, what do people do with the dollars they have left over after they pay for food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education to whatever degree they deem 'sufficient' for their "standard of living." In China, for example, the economy is focused primarily on infrastructure investments - creating a common public asset (public facilities for energy, transportation, water, sewage, etc.). The Japanese have historically focused on savings, but consumerism (entertainment, appliances, tourism, etc.) has risen steadily since post-WW2. For the majority of the time in America since the beginning of the 20th century, consumerism has prevailed - except during the Great Depression when infrastructure (hydroelectric generation and transmission, roads and highways, parks, etc.) took priority. (I personally find it interesting to view each country partly from this perspective, remembering that many have no significant middle class which makes the phrase "disposable income" an oxymoron for the majority of the population.)

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