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January 15, 2009

A golden opportunity to consume less

I find the notion of spending “for the country” to be both ludicrous and dangerous (1/11, A-1, “Balancing act; When people curb their spending during difficult times, it tends to make the hard times harder”).

During these dark economic times, we have the opportunity to question our economic system that encourages consumption. Rather than spending “for the country,” I believe that now is the time to question what we value and to look for alternative ways to meet our needs. For example, bartering of goods and services is a common practice that allows a person to exchange what they can do for what they need. There are many other non-monetary systems that are being piloted around the world that successfully provide economic resources to everyday people.

Let’s look at why we spend and what we value, and recognize unnecessary consumption. Now is the time to examine and reinvent our notions about what we really need and how we can best acquire it.

Kathleen Hermes
Leawood

Comments

Zesto

Oh, Kathleen...

"Dark economic times"? Every parking lot at every restaurant on Barry Road and I-29 was packed last night. Dozens of people were shopping at Staples and Target.

"For example, bartering of goods and services is a common practice that allows a person to exchange what they can do for what they need. There are many other non-monetary systems that are being piloted around the world that successfully provide economic resources to everyday people."

What year is this Kathleen? 1709? And where are these "non-monetary systems" being piloted? In crapholes in Africa and Asia. No thanks.

I love when the Falling Star prints letters like this from the clueless like Kathleen. Add the irony that she's from Leawood, and it makes it a great laugh.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

What about that $150M being spent on consumptive behavior on Tuesday?
Maybe Lidicrous could sell a few of his Bentley's and Range Rovers to curb consumption. Conservation is not what the enviro whack jobs want, they are hypocrites.
If we really want to do something about it, lets all live in tents.

whispering_to_kc

Without employees being paid a decent wage, your company would have no customers. You always disregard that part of the equation. Conveniently.

"Us vs them" is fostered in places like Leawood and Beverly Hills. It's fostered by more than "attitude". It's fostered by behavior and actions.

Also all over CNBC is commentary on the current home "crisis". Home prices are falling even as mortgage rates are hitting 30 year lows. The CNBC-conservative talking heads just can't understand why business isn't picking up even as home affordability is lower than ever. The only new buyers seem to be investors buying rental properties.

What more do they have to do!? Maybe if we give the CEOs a better bonus package, they'll be incentivized to come up with a better plan? Perhaps corporate tax cuts?

(I know what the root of the problem is, but no one else seems to be catching on.)

solomon

The "us and them" concern from the guy who is afraid of the 40% of the americans he considers freeloaders.

My stars and garters.

Engineer

whispering
What bothers me is the "us and them" attitude. If there were no stock holders and executives there would be no companies. If there were no companies there would be no jobs. This may be a simplification but it is fundamentally true. All types and skill levels are needed. However, the hard facts are that in a global economy semiskilled workers can no longer be paid at the rates they once were in this country.

whispering_to_kc

I've been watching a lot of CNBC lately.

Last night and early this morning, the talking heads there were discussing what they saw as the building nationalization of the US banking system.

Their biggest complaint over the bank bailouts seemed to be that increased government control and "populist" influences from Congress would lead to throttling back multi-million dollar bank CEO pay packages/bonus money and fat shareholder dividends.

"How will banks continue to attract the best and the brightest if pay packages/bonuses are reduced?!"

"Share prices will fall if dividends are suspended!!"

This argument contrasted nicely with their demands several weeks ago for the Detroit automaker CEOs to work for $1/year, for the UAW to accept McD's wages so they can compete with the commie Chinese, and forced bankruptcy to drive shareholder value to "zero".

I know which side of the discussion Kathleen and "Engineer" would line up with. It's likely bank shares are a healthy portion of both your portfolios. You're all "talking your own book".

Sorry. I made more than $100k in 2007 but, unfortunately, the Bush Depression caught up with us earlier than I expected and consequently 2008 will probably be less generous. I'll have to let you know what my tax man calculates my 2008 AGI to be in a few weeks.

The "green twinge" Engineer was looking for to stoke his JoCo "elitism" is only because I skipped my usual morning coffee. The green will be gone by tomorrow. I get the same look of "elitism" every time someone from JoCo passes me (in my old beater truck) in their Benz SUV.

Foolish you are, but you're convinced otherwise.

TinaMcG

Aww, that's a below-the-belt swipe at someone from Leawood. How do you know the letter writer isn't from a more modest section of Leawood, and so what if she does live in a gated community of McMansions or old money? Her point is a good one. It isn't right to discriminate against people who have money they have earned honestly.

Read her letter again. It's good advice no matter the income or net worth of the letter writer.

Engineer

If they make over $100K they have to be the problem, right whispering? Sometimes the posts from east of the State line seem to have a distinct green twinge.

whispering_to_kc

"I find the notion of spending “for the country” to be both ludicrous and dangerous." - Kathleen in Leawood

Leawood?

From Wikipedia: "The median income for a household in [Leawood] was $102,496, and the median income for a family was $113,058."

For comparison: "The median income for a family [in Beverly Hills, California] is $102,611."

Kathleen says, "Let’s look at why we spend and what we value, and recognize unnecessary consumption."

I suspect Kathy has more unncecessary consumption than most of the rest of us. Trade the Benz or Beemer in for a Chevy Malibu, Kate?

solomon

Dearest Kate,

As did Bush. Common ground for our last two CICs. None of that "I didn't inhale" garbage.

Pub 17

Rouge--pay your dam' bills and you'd be fine.

Kate

A letter from someone named “Hermes” lecturing us about the evils of conspicuous consumption. Strange times . . .

Don’t expect excessive consumption to end soon. Pepsi is marketing Obama as the change that will refresh the nation. Which in itself is ironic since Obama admitted he’s a coke man.

mianotkia

Listen, off topic, but will one of you eco-nuts send some of that global warming out to my home 40, I am freezing!

TinaMcG

I'm doing a home inventory. I don't think my 2 gig flash drive will hold it all, even if I use the smallest resolution setting on my camera. Even after cleaning out our things before we moved two years ago, the amount of stuff we still have is pretty staggering.

We're spending a lot less now, saving up for landscape plants and trees this spring. I have never been so careful with discretionary spending in my life! But it isn't just because we want to save as much as we can. Before Johnson County was taking large electronics for recycling, we were told our 52" television couldn't be repaired, and if we replaced it, the old one would go into a landfill. That was all it took for my husband to hunt for someone who could fix the one we had, and we got lucky. Less than two hundred dollars later, we had a working television and the landfill was spared our Toshiba monolith.

Last week, I had to get my KitchenAid mixer fixed, and the man at the repair shop said his business is really brisk right now. I kind of figured people were opting for more repairs and fewer replacements. We have to stop throwing everything away when it breaks, because as an old professor of mine once said, "There's no such place as 'away'".

solomon

I'll your $24 in beads for your home, Kathleen.

 
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