Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture - Conclusion

In this final post for our two month discussion of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture and of the cause and effects of cheapness in general, it seems fitting that I share with all readers this link (courtesy of my friend David):

A woman in Flordia has been camping for three days in order to be the first person into a Big Box store for Black Friday. She has set up a tent in the store parking lot and is essentially living there for three days. In the meantime, the rest of us are quietly preparing our holiday food, planning to spend time with our loved ones, or looking for a shelter that will provide a holiday dinner.

When I read this article, I found myself trying to calculate if she will be saving any money. The cost of the tent, her food, and even the time of the three days itself must be factored into the equation. I ended up deciding that she must be planning on doing a lot of shopping in order for the savings to justify the upfront expenses.

However, she also seems obsessed with being the first person in the store - it is some kind of major achievement or personal best for her (she mentions that "Firstness" is her main priority). Shopping, for her, appears to be the only thing that gives her a sense of accomplishment and validation. She has been completely consumed by the consumer mentality. Maybe she will be a happier person when she staggers out of the door with her loot, but how long will this happiness last?

I would like to end this two month discussion with a final quote from Angelo Pellegrini:

"Instead of getting something as the traditional measure of one's personal success, we shall have the unexplored opportunity of becoming something: better citizens, better members of the human community. Given the means to live in decency and comfort, free of the fear of want, happiness is ...always the necessary consequence of being esteemed as a good human by one's fellows...The unfailing source of life's enrichment must be sought within the self...And while we are here, given adequent food, clothing, and shelter, we must explore the virtue of self-reliance and seek happiness, felicity, tranqility in symbiotic relationships with our fellows rather than in the mere acquisition of material things. (Lean Years, Happy Years, pp. 18-19)."

Happy Thanksgiving to all readers and commentators!

1 comment:

Oscar W. said...

The intensity with which the American public shops and hunts for either bargains or opportunities for conspicuous consumption is legendary. However irrational or venal it may be, it keep our economy going. It is fitting that the discussion of this book ends just when the craziness of the holiday shopping season starts. Happy Retail Consumption Day!