Archive for June 27th, 2009

You Aren't Losing Your Job, You are Holding Back Consumer Spending!

Sharon June 27th, 2009

I’ve run across a spate of articles recently that all seem pretty much to blame those inconvenient poor or fiscally worried people for the economy’s failure to pop right back on track.  Consider this Bloomberg article, which Ilargi at The Automatic Earth notes erases a rise in new job losses by claiming that they are “stagnating” – but, of course, when job losses go up, they don’t stagnate, they get worse. Thus, human suffering is neatly erased in the larger story of the wanna-be recovery.   What we really need, of course, is to get people spending again – Wahoo!

“We’re in the prelude to the end of the recession,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, who accurately forecast the drop in GDP. “The stimulus will build steam, but it’ll be a pretty tepid recovery.” The loss of jobs “is one factor holding back consumer spending.”

Glad to know that the job losses are mostly about slowing down consumer spending, rather than personal suffering and hardship.

Earlier this week, MSN ran an article about new research on whether people are more satisfied when they buy an ugly couch or go to a crappy concert.  The headline?  Maybe stuff really does make us happy! (I can’t find this article to link to).  While this had absolutely nothing to do with the conclusions of the study, which were that when we’re unhappy with a purchase, we’re less unhappy when we buy a material object we don’t like than when we spend on an experience we don’t like, the message of the headline was “buy more!”  The first paragraph suggested that the study cast real doubt on the old “you can’t buy happiness” saw – implying, of course, that you can, and we should.

Or there’s this one, from CNBC, my favorite source of unintentionally comic news: “Higher Savings Rate is Great, But What About the Economy?” – the story never actually says anything about why savings might be good – only about why it might be destructive to the economy, forcing “more stimulus.”  Well, that can’t be good – gotta get out and buy myself a GM vehicle, a fainting couch and a really expensive purse. 

The message for those who have lost their jobs is this – well, maybe it isn’t your fault, but of course, we’d be better now if it weren’t for you, oh, and since things are “stagnating” (even though they aren’t), job losses are declining (well, only in the preliminary numbers, never in the more accurate adjusted ones, where, well, they aren’t) and we’re experiencing “green shoots” you should realize that we’re done worrying about you.  We’ve decided things are over – we felt bad for a whole six months and decided we didn’t like it, so we felt that if we all just pretended things were better, that would help – and so please don’t expect us to give you any attention, except to exhort you to get off your ass and spend more.  Stop holding us back, stop expecting our attention – you are so over.

There are plenty more of these stories out there, and they conspire to create a consistent media message – “you are holding us back.”  That is, you folks who lost your jobs, stopped spending, started saving, started doing with less, making things last, making change – you are bad, you are the problem – the problem is not with declining revenues, cutbacks in services, criminal behavior by banks, the stupidity of government…it isn’t any of those things, it is you. 

Well, just so that someone says it – it isn’t you.  We haven’t recovered.  We aren’t in recovery.  And it isn’t you.