Sunday, February 22, 2009

Up the Down Staircase

Here's a blog post from my friends at Iconoculture. I thought the comment about board games was particularly interesting. See more Iconoculture material on their blog.

Up the Down Staircase
February 17, 2009 – 2:44 pm
by Hans Eisenbeis

Two men were chatting outside the Minneapolis public library the other day, discussing the upside of unemployment. “I’m spending more time with my family, and we’re just hanging out —doing old-fashioned stuff like playing board games and cards.” His unmarried friend was incredulous. “Well, you don’t need a ruined economy to do that!”

But it seemed to me the bachelor was missing the point, and the family man was reading my mind: “Losing my job made me rewrite my whole budget, which made me realize that working hard in order to spend hard meant a lot of sacrifices. For what? Less time, more junk, deeper debt.” The bachelor thought a moment, and then said, “Dude, it’s people like you who are making the recession longer and harder for everyone.”

The bachelor might have been correct from a macroeconomic point of view — economists call it the paradox of thrift: The less consumers spend, the longer the recovery. But who could blame the family man for looking out for number one? Consumers of every income level are realizing that getting tougher on the budget has a lot of upside. They get their finances in order, build on a more solid economic foundation for the future and, yes, recommit to core beliefs without the distractions of debt-driven consumerism. Will that delay recovery? Yes. But when recovery comes, we’ll not likely see another Great Recession in our lifetimes.