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The "Re-Opening" the Economy Thread

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22 minutes ago, Warhead36 said:

Charlestown casino in WV is reopening June 5th.

Not far from my hometown. ****. 🤬

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This is an astoundingly good article by Anne Helen Peterson about the state of the American economy and consumer culture preceding and following the Covid 19 crisis:

 

"I Don't Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore"

 

For someone who spends so much time writing about lowbrow ephemera as a culture editor for Buzzfeed, Peterson is an absurdly talented writer with a "voice of a generation" quality that is special.  She shines really bright in these more extensive thinkpieces on her generational and class experiences that she occasionally publishes.  She has a beneficial background in the academic world that really comes through in her style and her effectiveness in argumentation and the depth of her thought.  And it kind of feels like she found her calling in writing about the economic experience of the middle and working class American millennial.

 

Anyway this particular article is a brutally clear-eyed takedown of the post-war American economic system and consumer culture, and a resonant call for a paradigm shift to something better.  There is all kinds of good thought in here about what consumerism has meant to our culture and our citizenship and our households.  And she frames the Covid 19 crisis as a supremely disruptive event that could be the opportunity for a culture change.  And she lays out a case that we are desperate for change and we've got to do something.

 

It's a long piece but do yourselves a favor and make some time to read it.  Here are the first few paragraphs, and again, here is the link to the entire thing: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/recession-unemployment-covid-19-economy-consumer-spending

 



I didn’t even realize I’d lost my desire to shop until one day, about six weeks into isolation, I absentmindedly clicked on a Madewell email offering an additional sale on a sale. I don’t even have anywhere to wear the jumpsuits I already own, let alone one that would require heels. Every work trip, every speaking gig, every quick vacation had already been canceled, even as my calendar still had reminders of the life I had planned in advance, on a different timeline, for myself. But in a matter of weeks, those, too, would be gone. I feel very lucky to spend my days walking my dog on the same loop I always take. But that walk, for the foreseeable future, requires no new purchases.

I don’t need new makeup, because I’ve stopped wearing it. I have Zoom calls with my friends after they’ve put their kids to bed, and everyone’s hair is just as wild, their faces just as makeup-less, as mine. I’m still lucky enough to be working. Others have been furloughed or laid off. Those changes may shape the tenor of our shared but separate isolation, but not its fundamental character. The aperture of my world feels very small, its rhythms incredibly repetitive. Sometimes, it’s almost calming. Other times, it’s incredibly claustrophobic. Either way, there are only so many pairs of leggings I need to navigate this new life.

Not wanting to buy things feels as bizarre as not wanting to sleep or not wanting to eat. It’s been ingrained in us, as Americans, as an unspoken component of residency. Before the coronavirus pandemic, I’d find myself clicking on the emails that overflowed the Promotions tab in Gmail, seemingly from every store I’d ever patronized. I’d online shop while I was traveling for work, while stressed, while avoiding a seemingly insurmountable number of other emails in my inbox. Buying things, especially things on sale, provided a momentary sense of comfort: I was fixing some problem, completing some task, simply by clicking “Buy Now.”

We’re trained to buy often, buy cheap, and buy a lot. And I’m not just talking about food, which everyone has to acquire in some capacity, or clothes. I mean all the other small purchases of daily life: a new face lotion, a houseplant holder, a wine glass name trinket, an office supply organizer, a vegetable spiralizer, a cute set of hand towels, a pair of nicer sunglasses, a pair of sports sunglasses, a pair of throwaway sunglasses. The stuff, in other words, that you don’t even know that you want until it somehow finds its way to your cart at Target or T.J. Maxx.

In post–World War II America, the vast majority of things we buy are often not what we actually need. But they’re indisputably things we want: manifestations of personal and collective abundance. We buy because we’re bored, or because planned obsolescence forces us to replace items we can’t fix. We buy to accumulate objects meant to communicate our class and what sort of person we are. We buy because we want to feel something or change something, and purchasing something is the quickest way to do so. When that doesn’t work, we buy “an experience,” whether it’s a night at Color Me Mine or a weekend bachelorette trip to Nashville. We buy because, from the Great Depression onward, how we consume has become deeply intertwined with how we think of ourselves as citizens...

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9 minutes ago, stevemcqueen1 said:

This is an astoundingly good article by Anne Helen Peterson about the state of the American economy and consumer culture preceding and following the Covid 19 crisis:

 

"I Don't Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore"

 

Responding to a post about an article I haven't read.  :) 

 

I've been saying for some time that I'm uneasy about the notion that an outrageous part of our supposedly "#1 in the world" economy is "look how much money we spend".  

 

At least to my simplistic understanding of things, I can understand how the strength of an economy can be based on how much it makes.  But how can you claim you're #1 because of how much you spend?  

 

My gut says there's something wrong with that paradigm.  

 

- - - - 

 

I'll also make a reference to an expression that I'm probably misquoting, about how a private vice can be a public virtue.  (Something that's supposedly irresponsible for yourself, may be good for society.)  

 

It was referencing exactly this fact.  The notion that we all likely agree that borrowing as much money as you can, and spending every single dime of it as quickly as you get it, is not a moral way to manage one's finances.  However, behavior like that absolutely does stimulate the economy.  

 

If every middle class family in the US were to simultaneously decide to start making double payments on their mortgage, so they can become debt free (and reduce other spending by an identical amount), it would be disastrous for the economy.  

 

- - - - 

 

I've heard the claim that supposedly 70% of our national GDP is consumer spending.  

 

Does that mean that 70% of our jobs (or more accurately, 70% of the dollars of our jobs) are dependent on consumer spending?  If consumers decide to become "fiscally conservative" with their spending, say cut it in half, do we lose half of 70% of the economy?  

 

And what constitutes "consumer spending"?  I understand groceries and restaurants and movies and TVs and cars.  Does rent and utilities count under that label?  And say Harry Homeowner (is that something that still exists in the DMV?  Or is it a reference to something I remember, that went away 30 years ago?)  spends $800 on a new washer from Home Depot.  Are they counting that as $800 of "consumer spending" for purposes of US GDP?  Or are they just counting the part of the $800 that represents Home Depot's markup towards GDP?

 

And yes, my ramblings have, in fact, confused me, too.  :) 

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Harry and Harriet Homeowner were from Hechinger advertisements, I have some memory of that from when I was a kid.

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1 minute ago, Forehead said:

Harry and Harriet Homeowner were from Hechinger advertisements, I have some memory of that from when I was a kid.

Wow, that's the way-back machine...me too. 

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People have been conditioned like Pavlov's dogs for generations to buy-buy-buy shop-shop-shop with the help of the never blinking eye of the boobtube, and they just can't shake that jones. Being forced to quarantine, being forced to look around at their lives and associate with their families, is starting to clear their minds the same way the atmosphere is starting clear a bit without all the aimless wandering around in cars. 

 

We can only hope.

 

In spite of however snarky or cynical I might sound at times, I still believe in an innate decency and normalcy in people. Yeah, there will always be that % who are so broken that they are beyond repair, but most just want to live. 

 

The 'Rona does have a silver lining y'all.

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2 hours ago, LD0506 said:

I still believe in an innate decency and normalcy in people

I believe in the decency and normalcy in a person, people are a whole different beast.

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16 minutes ago, TheGreatBuzz said:

I believe in the decency and normalcy in a person, people are a whole different beast.

 

 

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Alabama strip clubs open, not revealing pandemic lap dance policy

 

Music pounding in the background, the bar manager had trouble hearing on a phone call.

 

It was a little before 5 p.m. Wednesday and The Gentleman’s Club in Attalla was certainly open for business in the age of coronavirus. The establishment in Etowah County is one of several strip clubs that reopened in the past week, before legally allowed.

 

That moratorium ends at 5 p.m., Friday under Governor Kay Ivey’s updated orders announced Thursday that relaxes restrictions on entertainment venues including bowling alleys, water parks and strip clubs.

 

So … how does this work?

 

For businesses, let’s say, built around the absence of social distancing, the coronavirus pandemic creates quite a conundrum.

 

“Everybody stays six foot apart and we only seat a couple to a table, and they have to be with the same group,” said the manager who answered the phone at The Gentleman’s Club but declined to give her name. “They have to come in together.”

 

And lap dances?

 

The lifeblood of the adult establishments doesn’t exactly come with six feet of separation. Answers there were more in the gray area. A man answering the phone at Empire Gentleman’s Club in Birmingham said they were open, but lap dances were not available. Photos posted to the club’s Facebook page showed bartenders with masks but large crowds around the bar with unmasked patrons.

 

“I don’t answer questions like that,” said a manager at The Gentleman’s Club when asked about lap dances. “I’m sorry.”

 

A woman answering the phone a day earlier said lap dances were, in fact, being offered. That changed when an AL.com reporter identified his affiliation on a Wednesday call.

 

Click on the link for the full article

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13 hours ago, Larry said:

Responding to a post about an article I haven't read.  :) 

 

I've been saying for some time that I'm uneasy about the notion that an outrageous part of our supposedly "#1 in the world" economy is "look how much money we spend".  

 

At least to my simplistic understanding of things, I can understand how the strength of an economy can be based on how much it makes.  But how can you claim you're #1 because of how much you spend?  

 

My gut says there's something wrong with that paradigm.  

 

That's really the essence of her argument.  Basing our economic security and power so heavily on extremely high levels of individual consumer spending is unsustainable and destabilizing.  The increases to standards of living are superficial, and the sense of broad mobility and prosperity that it's provided are a mirage that was only really true from 1950-1970.  And hinging patriotic civic participation on plunging yourself into debt is just perverse.

 

I agree with her that an economic system that requires the individual to go tens of thousands of dollars into personal debt to stay afloat is terrible and unsustainable.  Her argument is that it's pushed the average American into a place of precarity that is unprecedented and it's dangerous and miserable.  The average American is looking at a future of escalating lifelong debt, renting, unstable employment, and no prospect of a comfortable retirement as our bodies and minds break down.  It's a slow return to 19th century standards of living, only without the prospect of easy land ownership to provide a safety net to a workforce that was broadly skilled in agricultural labor.

 

So yeah, a future of fundamentally unstable technocratic and financial serfdom for the average American is horrifying, Anne Helen Peterson sold me on that.  Frankly, as bleak as her understanding of our future is, I'm kind of surprised that she could be optimistic enough to view this epidemic as having the capacity to disrupt the status quo rather than accelerate and entrench it like the financial crisis did.  But I hope she's right.  If she is, my question is what does a new and better system look like and how do we get to it?    I guess that's going to be the fundamental debate of American civic and economic life over the next generation or more.  We should probably start by having a government made up of smart civil servants instead of looting crony capitalists.

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So let's say we've agreed that an economic system based on the assumption that the overwhelming population of the US intends to spend every dollar they've got, and every one they can borrow, in perpetuity, is unsustainable, and unhealthy.  

 

I'd observe that a situation like that might be tolerable for some time, as long as the population is making enough money to support it.  The guy who lives paycheck to paycheck can keep it up a long time.  As long as he never misses a paycheck.  

 

Is the big threat to this system we've got right now:  

 

1)  The system itself - consumerism and excessive spending?  Or 

2)  The fact that we have also spent decades handing all political power to people who fully intend to cut everybody's pay?

 

Could we fix (or at least improve) the situation by at least reducing the power of capital at the labor-capital negotiating table?  

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14 minutes ago, Larry said:

So let's say we've agreed that an economic system based on the assumption that the overwhelming population of the US intends to spend every dollar they've got, and every one they can borrow, in perpetuity, is unsustainable, and unhealthy.  

 

I'd observe that a situation like that might be tolerable for some time, as long as the population is making enough money to support it.  The guy who lives paycheck to paycheck can keep it up a long time.  As long as he never misses a paycheck.  

 

Is the big threat to this system we've got right now:  

 

1)  The system itself - consumerism and excessive spending?  Or 

2)  The fact that we have also spent decades handing all political power to people who fully intend to cut everybody's pay?

 

Could we fix (or at least improve) the situation by at least reducing the power of capital at the labor-capital negotiating table?  

 

The system is the problem but, and I know you know this, it's far deeper than consumer spending or excessive spending. For me, start with (personal) health care, the poisonous crap we subsidize and mental health then get into issues around consumerism. 

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28 minutes ago, Hersh said:

The system is the problem but, and I know you know this, it's far deeper than consumer spending or excessive spending. For me, start with (personal) health care, the poisonous crap we subsidize and mental health then get into issues around consumerism. 

 

Heard an interview with Paul Krugman a couple weeks back, talking about the economy and such.  There was a point he made:  

 

He said that people pay a whole lot of attention to what the government does about international trade, trade deals, trade wars, tarrifs, and so forth.  

 

He said that international trade only accounts for 17% of US GDP, and everybody wants the government to fix it.  

 

He said, you know what else is 17% of US GDP?  Health care.  

 

Now, he said, which of these two areas do you think is more broken?  Which one is more messed up?  Which one screams the loudest for the government to step in and fix it? 

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the topic is specific "reopening" the economy..not the state of the economic system or major aspects of it in general

 

so let's get back to and stay with that and table any continuing exploration of other stuff or put it in a more appropriate thread

 

 please don't reply to this post :) 

 

 

if you respond to one of the above posts that include the off-topic material and see this afterwards, please go back and edit your added off-topic material out---thanks

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Califan007 said:

 

 

Oh, ****, my #OpenStripclubsNow hashtag worked! 

 

If you think we're gonna pay you, in gratitude, forget it.  

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8 minutes ago, Larry said:

 

If you think we're gonna pay you, in gratitude, forget it.  

 

He probably wants singles.

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I can't even imagine going to a strip club in Alabama. I prefer women with more than eight teeth. 

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Quote

 

Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt on face masks:

 

"To me that's a personal preference. If you feel safer in a mask, then we definitely encourage you to do that.

 

"We don't think you necessarily need to have a mask, but that's a personal preference."

 

 

"I wanna walk around with an M-16 lookalike in my arms while I shop, and leave guns laying around my house."  

 

Well, your desires endanger numerous other people. 

But when it comes to their life or injury, versus your  desire, then your choice is what's most important. 

Everybody else will just have to pay the price for your hobby.

Because we believe in individual choice, even when it threatens to kill people."

 

"I think wearing a mask for the 20 minutes I'm inside Wa;lMart is too hard." 

 

Well, your desires endanger numerous other people. 

But when it comes to their life or injury, versus your  desire, then your choice is what's most important. 

Everybody else will just have to pay the price for your snowflakeness.

Because we believe in personal choice, even when it threatens to kill people."

 

"I don't want to be pregnant."

 

"Too damn bad, lady.  

You're going to be pregnant for the next several months, whether you want to or not.  

Because our desires override your desires, and you'll do what we tell you. 

You don't get to choose whether to be pregnant."

 

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