Reduced Consumption Good for America
Barbara Kiviat, one of Time magazine’s Curious
Capitalist correspondents, says American retailers aren’t doing the
country any favors by engaging in aggressive discounting. In fact, the author
posits, it would be an act of almost patriotic proportions if merchants raised
the cost of goods sold to the consuming public.
The rationale goes something
- Americans’ inability to spend within their means has created
mountains of debt, resulting in financial disaster for many in
- Cheaper prices cause Americans to purchase a bunch of things
they don’t need. Making things worse, they often make these purchases on
credit even though repayment may be an iffy proposition. Ms. Kiviat points
out that consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in October
compared to September even though personal income was up only 0.2 percent.
Ms. Kiviat dismisses the view of life that she/he with the most toys wins.
In fact, she points to statistics from the Self Storage Association to point
out that we don’t have room for all the stuff we currently own (BTW – see
classic George Carlin routine on stuff with link below). The U.S. went from
300 million to 2.4 billion square feet of self-storage space between 1984 and
have sprung up around the country to spread the word that more possessions
do not lead to greater happiness.
“We have this cycle we’ve developed — work
intensively, buy more, repeat,” says
Carolyn Danckaert, director of home and communities programs for New American
Dream, a responsible consumption group. “At a certain point, the accumulation
of stuff starts to drive your life.”
Discussion Questions: Do you see
the country going into an extended period of reduced consumption? Do you agree
with the Time magazine
author that there would be advantages for the country in such a scenario? How
would retailers be affected in such an environment?
- Why Big Shopping Bargains
Are Bad News For America – Time
- George Carlin Talks About “Stuff” – YouTube