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Barbara Ehrenreich: World's Designated Shoppers Drop (Downfall of the American Consumer)

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 08:53 AM
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Barbara Ehrenreich: World's Designated Shoppers Drop (Downfall of the American Consumer)
Worlds Designated Shoppers Drop

How much lower can consumer spending go? The malls are like mausoleums, retail clerks are getting laid off, and AOL recently featured on its welcome page the story of man so cheap that he recycles his dental floss hanging it from a nail in his garage until it dries out.

It could go a lot lower of course. This guy could start saving the little morsels he flosses out and boil them up to augment the childrens breakfast gruel. Already, as the recession or whatever it is closes in, people have stopped buying homes and cars and cut way back on restaurant meals. They dont have the money; they dont have the credit; and increasingly theyre finding that no one wants their money anyway. NPR reported on February 28 that more and more Manhattan stores are accepting Euros and at least one has gone Euros-only.

The Sharper Image has declared bankruptcy and is closing 96 U.S. stores. (To think I missed my chance to buy those headphones that treat you to forest sounds while massaging your temples!) Victorias Secret is so desperate that its adding fabric to its undergarments. Starbucks had no sooner taken time off to teach its baristas how to make coffee than it started laying them off.

While Americans search for interview outfits in consignment stores and switch from Whole Foods to Wal-Mart for sustenance, the world watches tremulously. The Australian Courier-Mail, for example, warns of an economic pandemic if Americans cut back any further, since we are responsible for $9 trillion a year in spending, compared to a puny $1 trillion for the one billion-strong Chinese. Yes, we have been the worlds designated shoppers, and, if we fall down on the job, we take the global economy with us.

Shop till you drop, was our motto, by which we didnt mean to say we were more compassion-worthy than a woman fainting at her work station in some Honduran sweatshop. It was just our proper role in the scheme of things. Some people make stuff; other people have to buy it. And when we gave up making stuff, starting in the 1980s, we were left with the unique role of buying. Remember Bush telling us, shortly after 9/11, to get out there and shop? It may have seemed ludicrous at the time, but what he meant was get back to work. .........(more)

The complete piece is at:

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Raven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 09:05 AM
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1. Take that tax refund/rebate and pay off your credit card balances and
put the rest in the bank.

Once you've paid off the credit cards, use them sparingly. Budget yourself and use cash.
Buy US made goods (if you can find and afford them!) and buy as much of your food as you can locally. To save on gas, team up with friends to shop, bundle your errands and walk or bike when you can. Go to the library instead of buying that book and brew and bring your own coffee to work.

Oh yeah, and GW Bush bailed out Bear Stearns but won't lift a finger to help homeowners with mortgage troubles. He says that we shouldn't "Overcorrect" I guess that means helping the big guys and leaving the rest of us to flounder.
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El Pinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 09:10 AM
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2. A great many of us were never able to participate in the consumption orgy to begin with...
...our wages have been stagnant for decades and we had no equity to borrow against (or maybe we had it but knew better than to go in hock for a plasma screen).

Of course we will be just as screwed as those who went in for the debt and consumption orgy...
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