I was happy to read your well-written article, printed in last week's Chronicle. It makes a strong case, in the story of Al and Jennifer, that "To make money, you have to spend money." That misguided couple thought that they ought to cut down on their purchase of supplies, to save money. They did so, week after week, until they lost their business.
You make a second point, to the effect that, in order to stimulate the economy, we all should go out and purchase goods and services. (I trust you would not go so far as to bring back the old mantra, shop till you drop!)
And I further hope that you are not of those who practice Conspicuous Consumption, in Thorstein Veblen's memorable phrase. You do not, I am sure, drive a Hummer, or even a Mercedes. You well know that we humans have gone a long way toward destroying the planet, through over-consumption and waste.
Still, you make your point. We in these parlous times should not hoard our resources; we ought to spend money in order to create jobs or save jobs. I am strongly tempted to follow your advice. I have in mind the purchase of another car, and/or the paving of our driveway.
Of course we have spent money to upgrade our house. We have tightened it up; we have added insulation, and we are enjoying the results. But we have not yet paved our driveway. Ours is the only house on our street with gravel. When we moved here, seven years ago, there were four such graveled drives. One by one, they each have been either paved with blacktop or with concrete. I do feel a bit ashamed of our drive, although it will stand me in good stead, should we have a serious ice storm. Those loose gravels will grasp my wheels and help me to pull into the garage.
Should I, in order to stimulate the economy, order up pavement?
Or ought I invest in other transportation? As you may know, our car is a fifteen year old Ford Taurus. True, it has obtained a few bruises and wrinkles, but it's almost as good as new. It runs every time; it's easy on gas; I do not add oil between 5000 mile oil changes. And that Robert (my red Ford) has carried us some 235,000 miles. Robert and I seem to have a kind of wager: each is betting they will outlive the other.
I have a nephew, up in Ohio, who sells Fords, or tries to. And he has been after me to invest in a new or used Ford. Ought I do that, and increase my nephew's income, a bit? The question still is open.
Goods and services. What about buying some clothes, and helping keep stores open? The trouble is, Mike, my wife, and I have more good clothes than we really need. And a a Depression kid, I early learned to use it up. Make it do. Wear it out, do without. And my mother, cheerful soul, used to chide me for wanting new clothes. "What you have hides your nakedness!" Mom would say.
Shall we take our hunger to fancy and expensive restaurants? Well, we are already doing that. We eat away from home at least two or three times per week. And, we leave a tip, usually more than the usual twenty percent...
I fear sometimes that folks may see us living "a poverty life-style," a term used by a university colleague as a rebuke. Bless us, I do not wish people to bringing us food baskets, poor souls.
Well, we are not hurting financially. We are able to give away from twenty to thirty percent of our income to church and other good causes. We are, to coin a term, comfortably fixed.
So you see, Sharon, I have a dilemma. Whether to buy more or not. Whether to trade cars or to keep what we have. I am moved by your urge to us to spend, but I, in my mid-eighties, do not drive long distances any more. No new car for me, no. Old Robert will move us when we need to move.
And, shabby or not, I think our gravel drive will stay put.
- GARY'S WORLD: Thank our veterans this weekend A tremendous opportunity presents itself in our community this weekend — an opportunity to honor those who served in the Vietnam War. Personally, after attending last year's first Welcome Home celebration, I wouldn't want to miss this. It was an emotional event for both Vietnam veterans and ordinary citizens. It was a great way to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day in Tennessee, March 29.
- RANDOM THOUGHTS: "Antiques Roadshow" comes to Tennessee If you are one of the 10 million who watch each episode of the “Antiques Roadshow” mark your calendar. The three upcoming Mondays, March 30, April 6 and April 13, were all taped in Chattanooga last July.
- LION AND THE LAMB: An open letter to Sharon Baier I was happy to read your well-written article, printed in last week's Chronicle. It makes a strong case, in the story of Al and Jennifer, that "To make money, you have to spend money." That misguided couple thought that they ought to cut down on their purchase of supplies, to save money. They did so, week after week, until they lost their business.
- WE THE PEOPLE: Veterans storm the Hill When young men and women risk their lives and sacrifice both physical and mental health for their country, a grateful country should at least provide them with shelter, food, and health care. But there is a lot of hypocrisy between what some windbag says on Veterans Day and what the country actually does for veterans.
- THEREFORE I AM: Kids stress out parents? Well, duh! This just in: According to an expert, children can add stress and strain to a marriage. In other news, further expert studies have indicated that the sky is in fact blue, Paris Hilton is a tad spoiled, peanut butter and chocolate taste great together, and the Middle East has issues. Thank goodness we have experts to tell us these things.
- INSIDE THE FIRST AMENDMENT: With shekels come shackles When President Obama launched his faith-based initiative at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5, he promised not only to sustain the Bush administration’s signature domestic program — but to expand it.
- THEREFORE I AM: Jim Croce and I will keep you safe and sound My philosophy of life is simple: When in doubt, follow the advice of a dead folk-rock star. I always found Jim Croce to be particularly handy in this capacity. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t spit into the wind. Don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger, and regardless of how badly you may want to, do not, under any circumstances, mess around with Jim.
- STUMPTALK: Stimulating a war on prosperity and freedom Near Bush’s sunset, Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed chairman Bernanke terrified the nation with “the sky’s falling and America is doomed” unless the government steps in with new regulations, institutional takeovers and massive lending.
- WE THE PEOPLE: Thoughts on bringing a recession to heel Responding to the recent full-throated baying of conservative “economic watchdogs,” I slogged into the swamp of their icon Adam Smith’s murky tome, “The Wealth of Nations,” to see if they had finally treed anything of value.
LION AND THE LAMB: Reality
Dim blue of early morning shines into the living room
while you flip through television channels.
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