Faith in the system

At Media Magazine, Steve Smith asks if America’s 50-year old shopping spree has hit the wall?

Almost 90 percent of Americans last summer were already saying they were considering a simpler life, almost as a relief from a binge of pathological consumption. Fully 70 percent blamed the economic crisis on personal and corporate greed. We may be hitting three walls at once, Matathias (researcher Ira Matathias of BrainReserve) says. The global environment, the economy and faith in ethics all seem to be crumbling at the same moment. People may be framing consumption at long last as a moral issue — and that is the kind of imperative, the kind of secular revivalism that moves people to change. Consumption is being viewed with a bit of shame now and even as anachronistic. “This is kind of the end of the consuming world as we know it,” he says. “We are convinced that it is a fundamental change that is really permanent.”

This is a heady and thoughtful piece that readers here will enjoy. While all of this is taking place, however, an automobile dealer client has actually increased its local TV spend. Why? Because advertising is such a bargain right now. I just bought a 2009 model car myself. Why? It was a hell of a bargain. My daughter and son-in-law are home shopping. Why? Because it’s such a bargain. Banks have money to lend, although it may feel like they don’t, so while we’re into all this healthy self-examination, let’s also consider that a little faith in the system might just do wonders.


  1. My take is that since the world of newspapers and finance are falling apart, the folks caught in the bubble think the sky is really falling. It goes back to your post about hubris. No doubt stuff is sub optimal. But they miss that there is no reality to the GDP or the “Housing market” or the “Market” as a person who moves this way “because” housing stats were blablaba. More likely is that x number of people who control y amount of hedge funds did a, b and c.

    It would be nice if some outfit could show us what is happening in the various regions that we call the “USA”. The sub prime mess was mostly in California, Fla and the southwest. Not much effect in the Northeast. Don’t know about the southeast. Meanwhile the upper mid west and the lower midwest has different problems.

    The problem with mental constructs that don’t point to reality, is that it leads to an enormous amount of bablablabla that has little to do with people’s lives or figuring out how to solve real problems that happen at specific times in specific places.

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