Friday, November 28, 2008

Consuming ourselves to death... Comment and an observation

The coming Obama administration should not enact any tax cut policies that will encourage reckless consumption. We are pretty much consuming ourselves to death at this point. Infrastructural spending on bridges, transit systems, displaced worker training and cleaner automotive technology should be the preferred points of spending in a stimulus package that the new administration is set to enact as soon as they get into office.

From here: A decade of excess consumption pushed consumer spending in the United States up to 72 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, a record for any large economy in the modern history of the world. With such a huge portion of the economy now shrinking, a deep and protracted recession can hardly be ruled out. Consumption growth, which averaged close to 4 percent annually over the past 14 years, could slow into the 1 percent to 2 percent range for the next three to five years. The United States needs a very different set of policies to cope with its post-bubble economy. It would be a serious mistake to enact tax cuts aimed at increasing already excessive consumption. Americans need to save. They don’t need another flat-screen TV made in China.
Of course, crass consumption patterns that must have been acted out this morning (Black Friday) across the malls of our land sometimes leads to death by the forces of consumption - albeit of a different variety.

From here: A Wal-Mart employee in suburban New York died after being trampled by a crush of shoppers who tore down the front doors and thronged into the store early Friday morning, turning the annual rite of post-Thanksgiving bargain hunting into a frenzy. The 34-year-old employee, who was not identified, was knocked down by a crowd that broke down the doors of the Wal-Mart at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y., and surged into the store. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6 a.m.

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