Tuesday, November 25, 2008

OK, So I'm Confused...

I don't understand economics. If you do, please don't waste space trying to explain it to me. My eyes will glaze over as if you were discussing internal combustion engines.

Here's the thing. Our economy runs on expansion, right? Ever since somebody figured out a way to get somebody to buy something that they already had, we have had the phenomenon of "keeping up with the Joneses." As soon as everyone has a car, the car companies design a new one and make us think we need it. Most of us are paying way too much for more house than we need. God forbid we be seen in last year's jeans, carrying last year's expensive purse. We are told to spend, spend, spend.

Right now, it's all collapsing, the way my mom (who survived the Depression) said it would. She knew all about thrift, and making do and mending, and not being responsible for making all her daughter's greedy little Christmas dreams come true. She was thrifty even when times were good.

I'm semi-thrifty. I have been known to be wasteful sometimes. I have thrown away worn clothing without a) removing buttons, zippers and elastic, b) cutting any piece longer that twelve inches into strips to be braided into a rag rug or c) saving any useful piece for the ragbag. So, I am a wastrel.

Still, if we, as a society, live by those thrifty ideals, our economy will collapse, right? That's what they tell us. Spend, spend, spend! It's good for the economy! Get a tax refund? Spend it!

Maybe our economic system was flawed from the beginning. Or, maybe it worked as long as the expansion was genuine. When America was spreading out through the uncharted wilderness, welcoming (well, maybe not "welcoming"...maybe more like "grudgingly accommodating") all immigrants, there was a constantly increasing consumer base. Expanding rapidly.

It's just such a contradiction. Our cultural background and our religions urge thrift; yet our contemporary culture demands the opposite.

No wonder some of us are all at sixes and sevens.


  1. You sure don't sound confused! lol
    But I do understand what you mean.
    by the way I love the ornaments you made! great work!

  2. Terri, I'm glad you like them. They are going to Raleigh North Carolina, to be sold for donations to a scholarship fund in the name of Michelle Fisher Young, the young mom who was murdered there a couple of years ago.

  3. In my mind I have simplified it. When people spend money it creates jobs; when people buy things it creates jobs.

    When all that stops, people lose their jobs. When lots of people lose their jobs there is a major problem. Only the rich survive. And, the people like your mother, of course.

    When people stop needing thing, companies, big and small, go out of business.

    Umm, I think....

  4. Well, yes...but when the profits are in the hands of greedy people and the jobs get out-sourced...

    I reckon, in terms of a global economy, that it doesn't matter whether the jobs are in India, Viet Nam or here--somebody is getting fed.

    Still, why do corporations rely on loans to pay their employees? I thought the idea was that you pay your employees out of money you make, not money you borrow. Where is the money you make going?

    And what makes the auto execs think that showing up in private jets to beg Congress for money is a good thing? And why are WE, the taxpayers, handing over huge chunks of our hard-earned money to corporations? Because they have run their businesses into the ground by taking too much profit out of the company.

    Seems like somebody smarter than I should have worked out solutions to this crisis before it got this bad.

  5. You have hit the nail on the head. This has all come about because of greed and shareholders wanting more.

    I just hope there are strings attached to all this money that is being handed over. No bonuses and golden handshakes these crooks. Not holding my breath, though.

  6. I was reading the comments and just had to stick my nose in...
    I figure if the top figures all take some kind of pay cut,and start pouring some of the profits back into the companies they would be able to weather the storm,but they don't want to make less to survive! this boggles my mind.
    Oh and Ronni, I finally found my T-shirt transfer papers! I need your address to send you the whineybabypeepeepants iron on! lol
    I didn't forget! Ii may take time sometimes but I always keep my promises!