Thursday, December 5, 2013

Buying For the Good of America

On Black Friday, watching the Today Show in our hotel room, we viewed people wrestling each other to the ground for the chance to get a bargain. My husband and I, smug in our lack of participation in this frenzy, watched the images in disbelief. But are these alpha shoppers the real Patriots?

According to Robert Reich’s documentary, Inequality for All, consumer spending is 70% of the American economy, the backbone of our wealth as a nation. The middle class is shrinking, threatening the wealth of the USA. His thesis is that without a large middle class that can afford to buy goods and services, our whole economy is threatened. In very succinct, understandable explanations, using cartoons, graphs, and interviews with average people, Reich illustrates how dangerous a situation our economy is in. In 2007, the 1% (those earning at least $380,000 per year) had the highest percentage of American wealth since 1928. Nevertheless, the Republican Party wants to cut $40 billion from the SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) budget threatening many working poor with malnutrition or even starvation. While some unstoppable forces such as globalization and technology have spurred the rise of the ultra-rich, our social policies have also played a huge part. Since Robert Reich explains this all much more articulately than I can, I urge everyone to see this documentary. For those who have avoided it for fear that a documentary about economics would put them to sleep, let me say that I was pleasantly surprised how entertaining it was.

I watched Inequality for All at the Lake Street Church in Evanston, Illinois. After it was over, people were asked to sign up to participate in a group to work towards some of the goals Robert Reich articulated. For those readers living in or near Evanston, there will be a follow up meeting on Saturday, December 7th at 2:00 at the Lake Street Church at 607 Lake Street, Evanston to discuss where we go from here. Everyone is welcome. Maybe they can start a movement.

In the meantime, I should go out and shop. If only I wanted to buy something and didn’t hate shopping as much as I did. In the name of restoring America’s wealth, I wish all of you a happy and healthy shopping season. Don’t fight anyone over the bargains though. I’m sure there’s plenty for everyone. Happy Holidays!