Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tightening Our Belts...Or Something

Remember those days when Mom would patch that hole in a sweater rather than throw it out and run off to Macy’s for a new one? Or when Dad “bondo”-ed rust holes in the car, instead of trading it in for the latest model when it showed a little wear? Remember Mom and Dad putting away pennies for years toward that first color TV? (For that matter, remember the TV repairman? Those guys aren’t around anymore…if the thing breaks—which it is programmed to do after an amazingly meager number of viewing hours—we just throw it in the landfill and head off to Best Buy.)

If we have any hope of wading out of the mess created by the implosion of our 21st century greed-powered economy, we not only need to remember, but make every effort to return to those thrifty values of our distant past. Comparing the indulgences my family guiltily allowed forty years ago with today’s tendency to think nothing of dropping several hundred dollars on the newest electronic toy or designer gew-gaw, or several thousand (or hundred thousand) on the most testosterone-pumping or status-screaming conveyance, I seriously doubt the feasibility of this mandate.

All this talk of tightening our belts, listening to our better angels, and rejecting our recent “collective failure to make hard choices” is good. It’s relevant. It’s necessary.

But is it…possible?

Under a headline of “Nipping Less…Tucking Away Cash,” a feature in today’s Oregonian reported the recent downward trend in the local cosmetic surgery industry, assumedly brought on by our national economic crisis. Seems that significant numbers of the “Real Housewives of Multnomah County” are finding it necessary to choose the cheaper option of Botox injections (at $400 a pop) over spendier (elective) cosmetic surgery. The opening paragraph of the article tugged our heart strings with the sad dilemma of a woman who would have to choose between botoxing her forehead and erasing the varicose veins in her legs (she chose the Botox, because, after all, she could “always wear pants”…!)

And then there was this telling little tid-bit:

"I know people who say… I'll feed my kids Cheerios if it means I can get my Botox…”

My fellow Americans:

We. Are. Screwed.


Kathy said...

Maybe we are screwed. Maybe not so much.

I know for myself, that all copies in my office are two-sided rather than two pages and all pens are used until used up.

Blather, blather, blather. When a co-worker complained of having to lift the cover of the copy machine because the autofeed feature died of programmed age/use, I stopped looking for a new one, although my Dear Supervisor told me I could purchase new.

I figured it this way, that co-worker needed a dose of reality. In my world, reality is making do sometimes ...

... and saving the pennies for the really important things.

I'm hoping more folks catch on.

Anonymous said...

All the years I had a full-time job & a small business -& on the side I was going to community college at night, my friends & some coworkers would tell me I wasn't "enjoying my life." Largely, they came from families with more money, they had better educations and they'd been to the MoMA before I had. But I was saving & investing my money. 20 years later they tell me they are broke because of medical bills/divorces or "the economy." Yet the last person who said that in front of me sent me a web ad for "low priced" Manolos & just got back from a sunny vaca. Ok....
Botox is toxic, but my paid for house is lovely on cold winter day.

sunflowerkat321 said...

Well, at least the botox folks will have a smile frozen on their faces as their houses foreclose.

We also have a big responsibility to teach our children the value of thrift. I don't know how these kids are ever going to get started in life. They've got a long and bumpy road ahead of them.