Jan 25 2010

The Overspent American

Published by at 3:10 pm under Reflection Blog

Everyone consumes and in America most people consume entirely too much. This is the claim Juliet B. Schor makes in her book, The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need. Americans are world-renowned for the compulsive and excessive spending and this bad habit has caused loads of problems, which expand from each individual’s pocketbook to a nation full of foreclosures and debt.  Schor argues, “We live with high levels of psychological denial about the connection between our buying habits and the social statements they make (19).

Media has also played more of a key role in the evolution of consumerism in American society by allowing people to observe outlandish lifestyles that their incomes cannot compete with, “The link between television and spending is that what we see on TV inflates our sense of what’s normal”(80). Stores have tired to mend this,  “these aspirations play themselves out in the retail sector: the furnishing, attire, and lifestyle accessories of the upper 20 percent are the prototypes for less expensive versions found at Macy’s, Sears, Wal-Mart, and K-Mart (13). This need to keep up the status quo of what to have has gone so far as to make water a fashion statement. Water that is perfectly good and free out of your facet no has labels and those labels make all the difference. A person walking by you can read your bottle and know if you bought Dasani for $ 1.45 or if your “hip” the can see that from your Fuji bottle that cost $ 4.80 for the same amount of fluid and if a person walking by can read this so can viewers of magazines or movies who see celebrities with their branded water and begin to imitate. “

Since Americans have become such over spenders that also means in order to continue in their acceptable lifestyle they must work longer hours at work for the things they have acquired.  “The nation has become enmeshed on a cycle of work and spend”(99).  This has stirred it’s own negative effects since people become stress they feel they “deserve” to go on expensive vacation’s and to relieve their mounds of stress “must” get a pedicure and these actions cost money. The vicious cycle of spending money to unwind from the amount of work really just adds on more work.  People have begun realizing this a movement of downshifting and living within ones means is taking place crossed all-economic borders.

I find downshifting to be an interesting phenomenon that I think is healthy for a person who tries to adjust their spending habits. I do feel as brought up in class that encouraging complete downshifting nationwide would not be right to do to all economic classes because not everyone has the means of fully participating in the movement.  The government should reevaluate why massive spending and people indebt is they best way to boost American economy.  Consuming is good to some degree we have to consume but the problem with American society is this overconsumption and it being our “patriotic” duty to consume is not justified and obscured. I feel the best way to help this crisis America is facing would be to encourage repairing things yourself, making instead of buying, and teaching better spending habit and the pitfalls of debt in schools.  We need to realize quality is better than quantity and or quality of life with continue to go down hill until we realize something’s really are more important than money.

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