Sorry the links didn't work for you, Kay. I tried them this morning and they worked well for me. I don't know what happened. Something between your server and mine perhaps?
I found this article on MSNBC this morning. 'Consumers Feel Downtrodden' proclaims the headline. The author goes on to detail all of the dismal facts surrounding that decline in consumer 'confidence' over the last couple of months--lay offs, furloughs, underwater mortgages, foreclosures, etc. And then I realized something--I don't feel downtrodden. I don't think I have ever felt downtrodden--even in the middle of a nearly two year stint of unemployment (after another four years of 'underemployment') without unemployment compensation. Over that time, I trimmed my buying and reset priorities to conserve what I had. I changed my habits and found how much of all of the goods and services constantly pushed at me I really didn't need or really want. I wonder how many others are going through a similar process. Right now, if I were given a million dollars free and clear, I would be a serious disappointment to those trying to save this consumer driven economy. There is very little I would spend it on. But I don't feel downtrodden.
Then I found this article that one of the bloggers I always read linked to. There are a couple of points that struck me. One is the fact that for the higher economic classes the recession seems to be over and they are spending lavishly again. They were never really affected to begin with. I linked in an earlier post to a couple of articles which showed that unemployment hardly hit the upper 20% at all and the higher up the lower the jobless rate. Conversely the lower down the higher the incidence of joblessness. I am sure the high end retail shops are glad of their business but I really don't see that extending the Bush tax credits for everyone will help stimulate the economy significantly. Another is the notion of a bifurcated economy. We have always had that it just was more easily hidden. Dollar stores and their like have been around for as long as the high end retailers. There has always been a need for them. But this recession has been deep enough and long enough that people who would have rather been at their own funerals began shopping there. Third, the notion of people economizing on some things to splurge on others is not new to this 'new abnormal.' And the author's tone is somewhat moralistically condescending. To shop down at discount stores for shampoo so you can splurge on lattes strikes him as somewhat...strange. But is it really. We have done the same thing in our shopping. We decide exactly what quality of goods we want and when quality actually matters. We buy one of the cheaper brands of shampoo because none of the more expensive brands provide any discernible benefit for the added price and we buy it at a dollar store for less than half of the 'normal' price. That is just thrifty shopping. Instead we can redirect our money toward those goods where higher quality is worth a higher price. Lastly, some of the irrational behavior strikes me as simply very human responses to frustration. The man who walked away from his underwater mortgage and splurged on a vacation and an iPad is much like a dieter who rebells against a strict diet by gorging on a whole devil's food cake.