For many years we have watched as those in other countries protest and chant “Death to America”. I heard an interview with someone from Iran recently who was stating that this does not necessarily mean death to the people of America but to their ideals and vices which are contrary to the teachings of Islam.
I think with our current economic environment we might finally be putting some of these vices to death in ways that no armed conflict or attack could ever acheive.
And the one American vice most likely to change: Greed
I was having dinner with a friend last week and he brought up the fact that the new economic climate might mean a signigificant shift in the way we live our lives in America. It should come as no surprise to any walking talking citizen that we have been on a spend it now, pay for it later binge for far too long. Here are just a few statistics to prove my point:
According to an article by Stacy Mitchell at www.newrules.org:
“Between 1990 and 2005, the amount of retail space per capita in the U.S. doubled from 19 to 38 square feet, while per capita retail spending has increased by only about 14 percent. In the last year alone, developers built 143 million square feet of new shopping centers and bigbox stores.”
We have shopped and shopped. Bought cheaper and cheaper products (that break or fall apart sooner and sooner, necessitating yet another purchase). We no longer know how long a blender should last, what it should really cost and what it should cost to sustain a reliable work force.
We are completly caught up in newer, cheaper, smaller, and newer. Yes newer seems to be the overwhelming marketing strategy. How many new kinds of potato chips, crackers, oatmeal and any other number of food products, does the grocery store need to roll out each week to entice us back into Walmart?
As the recent bank bailouts have illuminated, we have been on the short side of make money now and worry about the consequences later. As much as we would like to say that the executives and stock brokers have been the ones to have the short view, it really has been all of us. We have been living large, buying cheap, throwing away and buying again like there is no tomorrow.
But sadly tommorrow has come. And for most of us things are like a really bad hangover. We all just want to jump into bed and go back to sleep until this is all over. But I think this change will ultimately be a good thing for America. We need to rediscover things like value, sustainability, reasonable consumption, and most importantly living within our means. And maybe, just maybe, we will put a dent in our Greed. And put to death one of the things that make us the target of those around the world.