Posts Tagged ‘spending’

Consume This

This Christmas season and this Great Recession combine to focus media attention on this critical question: Are Americans spending enough? News anchors breathlessly report Black Friday receipts, trends in online shopping, and FedEx shipping loads. If only people would stretch their budgets, use their credit cards more, take a fling or two, and buy! — then the economy would start up, employers would hire more people, and we’d be on our way back to prosperity and full employment. Even sober economists agree.


At the same time, many of us (sometimes the same people) worry that all that buying is highly wasteful and highly polluting. Making, shipping, and shopping for all those goods are literally ruining the planet. Critiques of consumption as being immorally wasteful go back centuries (see this earlier post). So, is spending our salvation or our doom? (more…)

Read Full Post »

Protected Class

For all the fierce debate in Washington about cutting government spending, it is striking how the interests of one class — the elderly — are protected by politicians on both sides. The Democrats roundly attack the GOP for proposing radical changes in Medicare and Medicaid that would, they charge, undermine the security and health of the elderly.

(image via CDC)

The GOP loudly proclaims that these changes would affect only those now under 55, so none of today’s elderly and soon-to-be-elderly would be touched (grandfathering them in, so to speak). And neither side would do more than delicately tinker with Social Security. Hardly anyone dares whisper that senior citizens might be discomfited.

This is odd: Today’s senior citizens are better off than other Americans – certainly better off than American children. And yet, they are to be protected more than other Americans. (Disclosure: I will soon join this protected class.)

There is increasing awareness of growing inequality in the United States, of the widening gap between the rich and everyone else. But here is another dimension of growing inequality: the gap between the generations. And these haves are getting to have more.


Read Full Post »