About a month ago, Suze Orman was on MSNBC's Morning Joe pleading with Americans to stop their spending and save, save, save. Time magazine's Joe Klein, also a guest on the show, looked a bit aghast. He responded that if all Americans do just what Orman suggests, the economy will be in freefall. Of course, many consumers are already stashing their pocketbooks until their jobs and investments are more secure, and healthy companies (see Toyota) are feeling the effects.
So, the save/spend argument isn't new. But today RealClearMarkets' Steven Malanga writes a piece titled: "Save Jobs. Buy Something." Malanga's target is the seemingly virtuous (certainly in an economic expansion) Buy Nothing Day--an abstemious holiday touting freedom from consumerism and consumption (it no doubt had plenty of unwitting participants this year).
Malanga asks: "Why is it that in tough times it seems rational and even noble to deny oneself, even when doing so only spreads the pain?" Maybe it's because the tenure of our consumerism-centered economy has been rather brief, compared with our thousands of years of tribal living and shared resources, Malanga suggests.
The writer is rather pleased with the recent investments (big, big investments) made by MLB employers, most notably the New York Yankees, at their winter meetings, and hopes their new players will spend their riches this season and do their part to boost the economy--and save jobs!
As one of the 20th Century’s most notable non-believers, Ayn Rand, observed about Christmas, “The gift buying…stimulates an outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure.”
And to give them jobs. There’s still time, though just a little, to renounce your vow of moderation and buy liberally. It’s the least you can do for your fellow man.
One major point here: Malanga is talking about those who can afford to spend more and choose to spend less.