Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stimulating bad habits

I've been wanting to write a post about the economy, well, since before I even had a blog really.  Reports that the US was slipping into a recession early this year came to most Americans as bad news.  I don't mean to glorify financial hardship, but I was genuinely excited about the recession and what it might imply.  Predictions of the recession were based largely on statistics showing that Americans were shopping less.  The government's solution was to send stimulus checks to taxpayers, hoping the tax refund would inspire more shopping, and thus pump enough money back into circulation for the economy to prevent a true recession.  

My secret hope for the existing economic slow-down was that it had nothing to do with how much money Americans had access to, but that Americans were changing their shopping habits out of a growing awareness of the environmental and social repercussions of consumption.   My optimistic theory was supported by several news articles about generation YAWN (young and wealthy, but normal) who live well below their means for conscientious reasons.   I was hoping that stimulus checks would result in no visible increase in spending habits, and that we'd see further proof that Americans were finally learning the true meaning of "simple living."

But alas, the AP has reported otherwise this week.  The article says that consumers stepped up their shopping in response to the stimulus checks that were sent out last month, and that economists feel more secure as a result of the recent increase in retail sales.  

I'm a little disappointed that my theory about the economic slow down did not hold true, or at least has not proven to be true so far.  I'm still holding on to some optimism about high gas prices and the possibility that they might inspire lasting changes in American's energy habits; not just driving but electricity consumption and consumption overall.  I'll keep an eye out for other clues that support or deride my theory on the American economy and the possible rise of in environmental conscientiousness, and in the meantime I'll keep a little faith that consumption patterns can change based on environmental or social awareness.  

Sincerely, Amelia 

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