Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why Big Shopping Bargains are Bad News for America

From CNN/Time.

"...part of what got us here was overspending, and that that overspending was fostered by a shopping culture that uses cheap goods to hook people on feeling like they're winning at something. As a country, we held nearly $1 trillion in credit-card debt this time last year — about the same as the value of all the goods and services produced in South Korea annually. We've bought so much stuff that we've struggled to find places to fit it all. The U.S. went from having 300 million square feet of self-storage space in 1984 to 2.4 billion square feet in 2008, according to the Self Storage Association, a 700% surge. By 2005, one in five new houses came with three garage bays — the third, real-estate agents explain, to store all the "toys."


""We have this cycle we've developed — work intensively, buy more, repeat," says Carolyn Danckaert, New American Dream's director of home and community programs. "At a certain point, the accumulation of stuff starts to drive your life." As Juliet Schor, an economist at Boston University who helps run the group, points out in her book The Overspent American, when workers became more productive over the second half of the 20th century, we as a society chose to take the benefit as more stuff. We could have also decided to, say, work a little less."

Especially bad is Black Friday--we're being trained to gorge on what we're led to believe are "bargains", when in fact, they're inferior goods left over from holidays past, made with child sweatshop labor, are full of harmful chemicals, and come complete with price mark-ups, stampeding crowds, limited inventory, long waits for delivery, and no option to return or exchange it if it arrives damaged in shipping, damaged in delivery, or simply no longer fits the bill...all to satisfy stock holder desires for some positive news on the bottom line--either for the store or the manufacturer.

We're also being trained to sacrifice our dignity, sanity, and money for this garbage. This is want creation in action!

If things get bad enough, there will probably be a Black Friday once a month. When that happens, it's goodnight, Lucy.

In the meantime, do your shopping AFTER the holidays--it's cheaper.


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