Spending Our Way Out of a Recession – Stein’s Approach Missing Out

One of my favorite show, and one of the few news shows I watch regularly is CBS's Sunday Morning.  I often enjoy Ben Stein's opinion pieces too, but this past Sunday's comments by Stein left me thinking he'd missed the boat with his view of how we can spend our way out of a recession.  Says Stein:

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"Okay. It's Christmas time.

We are in a recession. People are being laid off right and left.
Homes are being foreclosed in huge numbers. Detroit is teetering on the
brink of disaster. There is a wild, palpable fear running amok in the
nation.

One of my best friends, a very successful engineer, told me her
plan for the Christmas season was to spend as little money as possible.
A number of my pals have said the same thing and retail sales bear it
out.

People are planning not to spend. They're not spending.

This is not a good idea.

For those of us who still have our jobs, who still have a few nickels to rub together, we should be buying like mad.

Look, we're faced with John Maynard Keynes called "the paradox of
thrift." If everyone is cheap and thrifty and doesn't spend, the
economy slumps and everyone is poorer, not richer."

But perhaps we need to look a little more deeply at this.  For example, many people have pointed out that the American auto industry needs major revamping, since they're whole economic stability is predicated on the need to produce bigger and bigger vehicles. 

But isn't our overall retail economy equally dysfunctional when many retailers determination of whether they go in the red or black is based on the last 3-4 weeks of the year.  Might it not be a good time to rethink our whole retail structure in this case.

And how about some 'mindful buying,' rather than 'buying like mad,' which is what we've mostly done in the past.  Says Stein, "So, for those of us who can still pay our mortgages, let's tip the
doorman double, get cashmere sweaters and flat screen TV's for our
kids, and trips to Palm Springs for our wives."

Really??  How about using this economic slump to not become frozen by fear for sure, but instead to re-access our core values and direct our economic clout towards what truly matters most.  Dare I say, maybe it's time for some 'spending on purpose,' rather than spending like mad.

P.S. There was one particular comment that Ben made that I do fully endorse: "Most of all, we can share with people and animals in need. When times
get tough, donations to homeless shelters and animal shelters collapse.
Those of us still able should really dig deep this Christmas and give
all we can."  Of course, do so mindfully and consistent with your purpose and values.