21 November 2008

"Live within our means"

These days, I hear a lot of people saying that "we need to live within our means," as if doing that now or in the future will get us out of the current crisis. Not that it isn't sound advice on general principles, but people need to understand that it was once people started living more strictly within their means that the bottom dropped out of the economy. Capitalism depends on consumption. Capitalism on the scale we know needs perpetual consumption. If capitalists need us to buy their products, they'll have us all go into debt if necessary. They don't want to bankrupt us. More likely, they imagine that credit-fueled demand will result in more production, more prosperity all around, and everyone paying their bills. For that to work, they need to create a perpetual-motion machine of borrowing and buying, but once people retrench, stop borrowing, and live within their means, the machine stops. Living within your means may be a virtue in a more traditional or a simpler society, but you can't get there from here just by deciding to live within your means or exhorting others to do so. It's going to have to be part of a more thorough transformation of society and culture, and I don't know if people are willing to go all that way.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous1 says:

Once again, Mr. Wilson has it precisely wrong. Capitalism depends on production, not consumption. Capitalism means: Produce, save, invest. Put the money back into increasing production and build more real wealth. This is exactly what China is doing now-and what the US did in the 19th century. Consumption does not increase demand, it eats away the capital base and the foundation of increasing wealth. People who spend too much money may make a few bucks for mail order merchants, but ultimately they wind up broke. The economy of this country was built up by frugal ancestors who saved and built for the future. That requires real factories and manufacturing based on your own soil. It requires gold backed currency which retains its value and encourages saving-because the money will be worth something later. It requires living less well now for greater prosperity in the future.

Learn from the chinks, Mr. Wilson. They are practicing the economics which once made America great. We are throwing it all away.

John Bauman said...

Something just dawned on me... I think Crymethericon (or whatever his name is) is the same guy who played (voiced) Wendell the Porcupine on Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas!!

Samuel Wilson said...

Anon, you're right and you're wrong. Yours is a fair description of capitalism in its infancy, but at some point after the 19th century the US became a consumer society and a credit-based one, and who do you think is responsible for that? Scratch off your first few guesses and the answer is probably someone who didn't care where the money was coming from or whether it was real as long as he was getting paid for his product. Your ideal of capitalism depends on the capitalists being capable of saying "enough" when it comes to satisfying their own wants. Even according to your ideal, if the capitalist keeps producing he has to keep selling. There ought to be an "enough" point here, but everyone blew right past it. I don't know whether you can revert to "pure" capitalism without human greed eventually taking it right back to where we are now -- unless you want to emulate the Chinese and enforce your system through tyranny.

crhymethinc said...

Ahh, I see our pet racist is spouting his usual bs. One would think that he must be a complete rectum for so much fecal matter to dribble out of him. Go salt yourself, cracker. Such a fine, upstanding representation of white supremacy.

I see you still haven't bothered to stick your head in an oven. How can people save, let alone invest, when their corporate overlords control the price of labor? And as Uncle Sam suggests, how can you produce, produce, produce, if there is no market for what you produce? In your case, all you produce is waste material. Hot air and bs.

And it's all a moot point anyway. Your "golden age" is long past and as anyone with a brain knows, the past has passed and it's not coming back. Within a few more generations of wage-slaves living to feed the greed of corporate Amerikkka, there will be a worker's revolution. So you may as well go back to the fatherland now, Adolf, while you still have a pair of legs and half a sack.

As for you, Mr. Bauman---I suggest you learn to copy and paste. Maybe I'll stick a quill where the sun don't shine. And judging from your name, maybe you and Adolf can share a flight.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous1 says:

Human desires and needs are limitless. There will always be demand to satisy the limitless needs. The real issue is the production of wealth. As for dear old 'methnic, it is perfectly obvious that he is a Jewish commie with Karl Marx's labor theory of value stuffed up his red, kosher asshole.Spelling "America" with three k's and the ritual equating of American capitalism with German National Socialism is sufficient indication of where this bolshevik Jew cocksucker is coming from.

I normally try to be polite but if comrade Schmuck face cannot control his toilet mouth he may be eating his balls sooner than he thinks.

Moondazzled said...

Isn't John Bauman the guy who played Bowzer on Sha-Na-Na, a Jew, and a devoted fundraiser for the Democratic Party? Thought so...