Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Recession Anyone?

I am not much of a newsie, but I keep hearing reports that the US economy sucks. Okay, gas is freakin' expensive. Okay, it is so expensive that I probably should have said "fuckin' expensive." That is expensive. And I hear that food is getting more expensive. Okay, I am not sure food is more expensive. I mean, I can't really tell with fruits and vegetables; I mean, sometimes food gets more or less expensive due to the season. And I am eating more organic stuff, so it is hard to judge based solely on the grocery bills.

I do know the price of our home has decreased in value over the last year. Fallen like a stone. Someone on our street is selling a house and has dropped the price twice in the last month. Holy crap.

So all of this stuff – the stuff in the media, I am talking about – makes me think that I am not doing so well financially. I mean, I have not lost a job, and I got my cost-of-living increase. Okay, it was called a raise, which is technically true. Actually, a cost of living increase would have been a heck-of-a-lot more, considering the price of gas and groceries and vibrator batteries.

I read last week that there are certain recession-proof things. Professional sports is one of them. People will not give up their season tickets. That sort of surprises me. I mean, in economics, we learned that booze is recession-proof, and some suggest that hookers are also recession-proof. During hard economic times, people need a way to escape. Not sure if there is a rise in illegal drugs, but based on other things I know, it would not surprise me.

My grandparents were children of the Great Depression, and it really affected how they viewed the world. I had a grandmother who was very well off, and she would wash out Ziploc bags. Several times. My mom did the same thing. And I started doing it as well. You know, clothespin them to the curtains in the kitchen to dry. That was just part of how I lived my life. Then several years ago, I thought about how much Ziploc backs actually cost. One fewer stop at a Starbucks could fund my "not reusing Ziploc bags" fund for a month. Sure, there is also an environmental impact as well. Sometimes I don't like having a conscience.

But you know, I re-use tubs from my spread (not really margarine) and other packaging. It makes good containers for leftovers, and I throw them out when they acquire a smell. I know what you are thinking: it would be more environmentally sensitive for me to churn my own butter, but then I would have really bulgy arms. And I would have to buy different dresses, I am sure, to accomidate my new Eastern-European weightlifters on steroids look. And that would be worse for the environment. The world is a complicated place.

I talk to my friends, and they are cutting back on stuff as well. Not that they are making less money, but they feel poorer. At what point are we psyching ourselves into this recession?

I am no economist – I have far too much common sense for that – but it seems to me that when people spend less, companies make less, they lay off more people, and so on. What is sort of messed up is when times are good, our government still spends all the money it receives in taxes (and then some). So when times are rough, the deficit spending just increases.

I saw an article the other day about spending money. The congressman who was proposing some $4 Billion dollar program defended it because "$4 Billion really is not a lot of money when the total budget is about $3 Trillion." That's like me telling my husband that I bought a $500 dress because, in the grand scheme of things, it is not really all that much compared with our annual budget. And these are the sorts of guys that are deciding on how to spend the Federal budget. Yikes.

So we have a bunch of people in office who are fiscally irresponsible, we have a media who tells us how bad things are economically, and we spend less money. I know who we need to blame: President Bush. He is an easy target.

A recent Bushism: "Let me start off by saying that in 2000 I said, 'Vote for me. I'm an agent of change.' In 2004, I said, 'I'm not interested in change --I want to continue as president.' Every candidate has got to say 'change.' That's what the American people expect." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 5, 2008


Tim said...

"Wait a minute. What did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gas? ... That's interesting. I hadn't heard that." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Feb. 28, 2008

GW proved himself an agent of change. It's just that he changed things for the worse.

Just left Chicago where gas is already $4.23 per gallon

グラント said...

If you have a steady and dependable job during a recession, it can actually improve the quality of your life. If it gets bad enough, stores may reduce product prices in order to encourage shoppers. Unfortunately, the only real impacts I see on a daily basis are international trades, where the yen is now stronger than the dollar for the first time since I've been studying Japanese, and I've read stories that say consumers are switching to cheaper alternatives, like eating less decent food and more crap from the McDonald's dollar menu.

Leesa said...

tim: we are about $3.60. At least the last time I paid attention to the price.

grant: what if you had a steady job, but you were on your way to work and got car-jacked by someone who lost their job, started using heroin, and needed his next fix. Not sure the steady job would be all that great.

kathi said...

$3.62 here. I'm stayin' out of Chicago.

LarryLilly said...

Yes, my dad was a child of the depression, and he told similar stories about growing up then.

Your rinsing baggies got me to thinking though, if you were a guy, would you wash out and reuse condoms?

I mean, think of the environmental savings in latex... never mind

Just wondering


Leesa said...

kathi: me, too.

larry: I knew a guy whose claim to fame was using the same condom on two women. Happened in college. He protected himself, but not the college co-eds. Bad guy.

Joe said...

$4.19 here, and that's outside of NYC.

Part of the media-hype is that it's an election year and so everyone is hyper-focused on the economy. This, in part, fuels the drop-off in consumer confidence which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm no economist, but I'd sense that a lot of the hype will die down in the early part of next year, and that we'll feel a lot better a year from now.

Ian Lidster said...

In Canada we're already over the $4 a gallon mark and yet we produce more oil than Saudi Arabia. Something's fucked here.
Good piece, Leesa. Nothing I can add to it.

Anonymous said...

I had an interesting conversation with the guy who fixed my dishwasher the other day. We outlined how the world would be different.

- Term limits for any politician.
- Limit spending on your constituency to a dollar amount
- Stop buying foreign oil for one month. And block any foreign oil coming into our ports. You do it by declaring an inspection on every tanker carrying oil to the U.S. Set the price of oil at $xx per barel and watch the middle east flounder and drop the price of oil
- Force automobile manufacturers to up the practical average MPG to over 40 MPG.

It's not that the US is poor or down on it's luck. It's that we're spending our money foolishly.


~Deb said...

$3.98 here in New York.

Leesa, my grandmother used to wash out plastic cups and reuse them. We reuse Chinese take out containers because they're really good quality plastic and last a long time. My mom used to save those butter containers too. (I think she still does), as well as reuses juice bottles. Why not - even for environmental purposes.
(I'm just surprised that you actually wait for a smell before throwing them out with your OCD and all...) ;)

I'm much like that girl who buys that $500 dress (in this case - maybe that amt in alcohol and dining), but lately, or actually, the past coupla' months, it hit me hard: I can't spend as much as I thought I could. I sit here broke until the next paycheck, hoping that my phone/internet and cable company doesn't cut me off. It was due yesterday. If you don't see me online, blame it on the economy!