The REAL Black Friday comes up this week. Of course, most retail outlets have been having early 'Black Friday' sales for the last month. No one knows quite what the sales figures will be but I wouldn't be surprised if we had a six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other season. Last year's figures were so bad that this year may actually be an improvement by comparison. I don't think it will come anywhere near the better years of the near past though. That is like so many of the figures I see out now. But, and here is the kicker, I wonder how many people are in my boat. For a number of years now we have reduced our gift buying. Some ten years ago, when we had the resources, Mom and I spent $500 plus each on Christmas gifts. Over the years things changed. First, we did a 'Secret Santa' between the adults reserving the rest for the children under 16. Then I started making the gifts I gave the children while mom began giving cards with cash. This year, so far, we have only one dinner planned with my brother's side of the family for Thanksgiving and one with my Sister and her partner for Christmas. The economy and family circumstances have combined to produced a lot more frugal celebrations. That isn't likely to change in the future.
Lauren McKechnie at the Houston Press asks an interesting question: in light of the recent past shortages of Eggo Waffles and Libby's canned pumpkin and the various food contamination episodes over the last couple of years, what are the five foods are so necessary to your life that a shortage would cause you to panic (or some semblance thereof). None of the ones she listed make my list. Peanut butter is a once in a while thing and we quit buying dry cereal quite a while ago. Frozen potatoes would not make the list because we would shift to 'fresh.' But a shortage of fresh potatoes (unprocessed) would cause us to make serious readjustments. Ice cream isn't a large part of our lives either since the last 'cut the volume and keep the same price' scam. We went out for burgers and shakes three times this year, maybe. The weather had a lot to do with that--it was so cool our desire for ice cream simply evaporated. My top list?? Unprocessed potatoes (as mentioned above), pasta, bread, eggs, milk. I wonder what others think are absolute necessities??
We have been hearing stories for a while about banks raising their fees and interest rates on credit cards ahead of the legislation designed to prevent such abuses. But what are the poor banks to do to keep the billions of dollars that roll in from such sources?? Well, here is one answer. Where are honest loan sharks when you need them??
This article in the Des Moines Register is an interesting account of how the recession is affecting one 'Main Street.' Interesting points: the reference to 'The Second Depression,' the number of college graduates applying for McDonalds jobs, the RN who has been laid off TWICE this year (once for 6 months), the drop in the number of flights into and out of Des Moines International in the last 10 years. I am re-reading a book I got almost 20 years ago that was published in 1940 about the decade from late 1929 through 1939--Frederick Lewis Allen's Since Yesterday. Much of it is chillingly familiar--the frantic market that reached new highs just before the crash, the cheerful optimist that the great bull market would return with new highs and profits, the few pessimistic voices overwhelmed by the optimists but who turned out to be right after all. Bernanke is supposed to be a student of the Great Depression but I wonder if he read any of the social histories or just the financial history. Maybe he learned the wrong lessons. Worse some of what they tried to do then is much like what our government has been trying to do now--and with about as much success.
Archcrone at the Crone Speaks has a 'quibble' with a newspaper account of a doctor in Tennessee who is trying to help the poor with their health problems. Basically the reporter starts off with a statement that implies that the poor are solely responsible for 'allowing' their health problems worsen to the point where they are jobless. The doctor makes it clear in her statement that the problem is not one of choice but a lack of resources, primarily money to pay for medical care.