Thursday, December 11, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

Did you see the young guy on the Daily Show last week who's had a vasectomy just because he doesn't want to bring another consumer into the world? Even I think that's a little extreme...though I do understand his motives.
We the people of the United States of America are 5% of world’s population. We consume 24% of world’s resources. 1 American, on average, consumes as much energy as: 2 Japanese 6 Mexicans 13 Chinese 370 Ethiopians We are overweight, overindulged, and saturated with images that tell us to spend, borrow, and own every little thing we want (whether we can afford it or not). But, we apparently have our limits. It appears to me the Economics 101 lessons of the last few months have provided the ceiling on our tolerance for being compelled to spend, spend, spend. We don't like unabated greed. We can't believe we stood by while people with money made more money preying on unqualified home buyers. We don't appreciate auto execs who make obscene amounts of money while people who build their cars take it on the chin. We don't trust falling gas prices in an economy otherwise going belly up. We don't feel at all comfortable with the idea that billions of tax dollars are being promised from a general ledger that's trillions in the hole. I think we've had enough.

According to the American Research Group, Inc., we will be spending half what we spent last year on Christmas. The amount we're willing to spend on the magic of the season this year is $431. In 2007, the number was $859.

My friend Frank works for a high end clothing chain here in Austin. He told me yesterday that Christmas sales in his store are down 70% from last year. As much as I hate to see a friend's personal economy in peril...I have to say I'm happy to know we're thinking about what we're doing with our credit cards and our savings accounts.

Because twice as much money spent does not really say "I Love You" twice as much. Does it?

In fact, what we're involved in at Christmastime is apparently something right out of Grimm (as in the fairy tale). Some smart university researchers have followed a handful of Christmas shoppers around for 7 years. What they discovered is a pattern of motivation that reads a bit like Jack and the Beanstalk...small dreamer (us) with magic seeds (our Christmas lists) pulls off a giant (retail world) tricking feat of daring (shopping) to bring home prizes of great value (the gifts under the tree).

Unless, of course, a villain prevails...which typically (according to research, not me) is a husband or father or death of a loved one.

Or the collapse of a greedy economy?

Stop right here for a moment, my friends, and ponder this: How are you really feeling about the condition of your Christmas economy this year? Hero or villain?

I say it's a good year to spend less, sit more, and enjoy the view from the bottom of the beanstalk.

And we all lived happily ever after...

Peace.

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