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Friday, October 14, 2005

Go Consumer, Go!

With apologies to Chuck Berry:

Out here in Arizona close to New Mexico
In the barren desert near the Navajo
There stood a McMansion made of steel and wood
Where lived a city slicker named Johnny B. Lewd
Who never learned to save or budget so well
But he could splurge on credit really damn swell

Years from now, the US consumer of the early 21st century will be studied by anthropologists, and they will laugh oh-so-hard at his manically illogical behavior. His spending accounted for nearly 70% of the US economy, buying up everything with little regard for anything else. He took particular delight in selling houses to his peers with money borrowed from the Chinese, and this unproductive behavior accounted for about 40% of all job creation after the semi-apocalyptic events of September 11, 2001. In addition to houses, he bought far more than he needed, and even borrowed against the value of his home(s) to get more money to spend himself silly.

These anthropologists will perhaps note October 14, 2005 as a pivotal moment in the devolution of Spendthriftus Americanus. He spent well beyond his means, pretty much oblivious to everything going on around him including global fundamentalist religious conflict, twin deficits, major calamities, corporate malfeasance, and US-led wars of convenience. On this day, though, his limited capacity for understanding the world around him was awakened to a greater degree than usual. His weekly take-home pay fell 1.2% while consumer price inflation rose 1.2% (the biggest advance in half a century), meaning that he had less money to spend on essentials like iPod Videos and Paris Hilton home movies.

In a semi-climatic episode, he began to shout at the devil: "Why the #$@% am I running out of money? I am the consumer--the King of America!" The reply was quick in coming. The devil said, "Well, sonny, it's the end of free money. The Demon-Fed needs to cut down on the nonsense they've created in the first place, and it doesn't particularly care that personal bankrupties and consumer dissavings are at an all-time high." Spendthriftus Americanus was horrified as the devil let out a demented laugh and said he had to go collect Karl Rove's black heart or something to that effect then vanished in a great ball of fire. Bemoaning his lot, the consumer's confidence hit its lowest point in 13 years at 75.4. In his heart of hearts, he knew that the party was very nearly over and cried himself to a fitful sleep.

Posted by Emmanuel |

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