Monday, January 19, 2009
The Economy Dichotomy
I don't pretend to know much about economics, which explains why I rarely post on related issues. But the following has been nagging at me:
America has long been described as a nation of over-consumers. This has been talked about in the media for years. We (and don't take the "we" personally, please, because I don't necessarily include you and I certainly don't include me) shop for fun, for relaxation, for entertainment. We carry huge loads of consumer debt. Our roads are lined with overblown malls and shopping centers. We have a zillion varieties of toothpaste, electronics, and everything in between. A drive through some suburban areas would lead one to believe that all Americans do is shop and eat.
Surely this must be a factor in the current economic situation, yes? But now that stores are closing, corporations are being bailed out, and jobs are at a premium, Americans have stopped spending so much. They've pared down their driving habits, stopped eating out three times a week, stopped spending $5,000 on Christmas, plan to drive their perfectly good cars for a few more years, etc.
This is what the financial experts have been advising for years: Quit piling on credit card debt. Tighten your belts! But are the economists (and those individuals with certain opinions on the economy) happy about this? No. They say the economy must be stimulated. And that means we should be out there spending. Patronize those restaurants! Buy yourselves new cars! Bring your wallets to your local retailers!
Maybe I need to read Economics for Dummies, but I find this confusing. Does the answer to our economic problems lie somewhere between the two extremes?
I know one thing: Never in my life have I been more grateful to be frugal.
PS: The Bluejay (photo taken yesterday) is not completely unrelated to this post. Have you checked the price of bird seed lately?? But I've been feeding the birds here for 33 years (how many generations of birds is that?) and I'm not stopping.