26 November 2010

On Not Shopping

As a general matter I am not an anti-consumption type. I do worry about how much we are prepped to buy and how wasteful much of our 'products' turn out to be. But, in economics I buy broadly Keynesian approaches in which consumption - spending - looms large. But it is easy enough to think about how we might encourage spending on sustainable production that I think it is pretty easy to reconcile my views.

That said, I had occasion this morning to spend some time in the car, listening to npr. The amount of time and anxiety the local station devoted to 'black Friday' and variations on whether and what we should buy struck me as disgusting. On the one had we got lectures about being financially responsible in the realm of personal spending. On the other we got advice about how to plan our post-holiday spree (hint: focus on big ticket items today, since the savings are greater there and the sales will continue on less expensive things). All that was leavened by lots of moaning and anxiety regarding whether merchants would do well enough over the next few days to salvage a respectable year. It was nearly enough to get me to subscribe to Adbusters and their Buy Nothing campaign.

As a long term strategy for economic development in an impoverished region like Western NY this is nonsense. But, as a way of resisting, Ulysses-like, the twin shoals of moralism and profligacy I endured this morning it was yet a third temptation. I (again) recommend Juliet Schor instead. You can find her web page here. And, in case you are wondering, I didn't buy anything today.

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