Jan 31 2010
While the majority of Schor’s book talks about the average American and their spending habits, the conclusion of The Overspent American puts our wallets into perspective with America and the global economy. Schor discredits theories that spending less will throw the world into depression. She argues that if everyone (although she notes that it is impossible for the entire world to go along with this) spent less, they would need less, then work less, thus putting us into a normal routine again. These are noble ideas, and I wish I could see them played out, but of course it won’t happen unless we’re all forced to do it. And, I can’t help but think that even if everyone did spend less and everyone went down an equal number of notches in spending, working, and production, everyone would still be going down in equal numbers. This means that the poor would still be poor and the rich would still be rich. It doesn’t matter that the rich would be poorer, because they still have more money than everyone else. The titles of “rich” and “poor” are relative terms that don’t have definite amounts put on them. Even if this idealistic world of spending less existed, it wouldn’t matter if everyone did it.
Of course, the fact that many of Schor’s ideas are unrealistic didn’t stop me from looking into my own spending habits. I am super, super poor. This book definitely affected the way that I think about spending. I unsubscribed from the e-mails from Gap, Old Navy, and Urban Outfitters. I go into stores with a shopping list and think long hard about buying anything off of that list. Friday night I went to the grocery store to buy rice milk (expensive but necessary for me), fruit, and something healthy to snack on (I ended up with dried apples). I went out with those items plus batteries (which I needed but forgot to put on the list), and a softer lightbulb for my roommate’s light. I felt proud of not being anything unnecessary and I am happy that we read this book because it is actually making an impact on my life!
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