July 15, 2016

20% Of Americans Can't Afford To Shop

Something is wrong with the continuation of the consumer society when 20% of Americans can't afford to shop. A growing group can't even afford the basics.

Incomes have been stagnant for decades, while the price of things continues the relentless march upwards. While the definition of the middle class is a slippery concept, what it describes for the most part is a group of people that can afford to shop for non-necessary stuff. That group is shrinking, and maybe that is not so bad, considering the harmful effects of mindless consumption.

What is bad is that it is also increasingly difficult for many of us to even afford the basics. It used to be, not so long ago, that a single wage family could afford a middle class lifestyle. Not so any more. Now even two wage earners in a family do not guarantee the ability to enjoy that illusive comfy lifestyle.

Here are a few things that the middle class can no longer afford, besides large screen TVs, electronics, restaurant meals, going to the movies or clothes.

  • vacations
  • new vehicles
  • to pay off debt
  • emergency savings
  • retirement
  • medical care
  • dental work

I wonder if they keep statistics on how many Americans are choosing not to shop. People who could shop if they wanted to, but see the futility of continually chasing after the next high while purchasing things they don't need, or even really want. 

The leaches that get rich from selling stuff better find a different way to fleece the world rather than flogging the dying horse of consumerism, because this thing is on its way out. 

What we really can't afford is a system where a small group gets enormously wealthy by exploiting the environment and the majority of humanity.

Now I am off to the dentist to hear about a whole bunch of things that I can't afford.


  1. Anonymous7/15/2016

    The story starts after the Wall Street Crash and the huge growth in economic output from WW2. The New Dealers directed investment into the US economy and also invested in Japan and West Germany. Growth and technology increased along with the growth of the middle class. Under Reagan, Japan was abandoned and the real terms growth in US wages stopped, the stagnation in wages was cleverly offset by the cheap imports from the newly open China, allowing corporations to make massive profits and reducing the cost of wages. The super rich became all powerful. Now China wants more money for it's environmental destruction and cheap workforce, life in the US is getting harder. The US relies on foreign investment to make up it's budget shortfall, which is also drying up. It's a clever scam, but it is absolutely unsustainable.

    Why can't we give the 1% all the money - as that's what they want and just start fresh without them. We need growth both ecological and spiritual, let's invest in renewable energy - who cares if we can't have power all the time. Let's have a open source revolution, sharing research and science amongst all. Lets start the biggest carbon sequestration project in the history of a beautiful Gaia by starting plant based permaculture. Peace.

    1. When power is discussed these days no one ever, ever talks about conservation. No one ever talks about using less of anything. No one ever talks about driving less, or eating less, or killing less.

      The only thing the system seems to be able to afford is militarizing police forces and endless war. For everything else there "isn't enough money".

      But the people are growing restless, and after a few more decades of exploitation at the hands of corporations and corrupt governments, maybe we will see revolution and return sanity to the human experiment.

      Things are getting very weird lately, and everything points to us reaching some sort of breaking point. It might harsh the buzz of shoppers and bucket list chasers, but I don't see us learning from anything except all out catastrophe and collapse.

      We haven't made much progress over the last 6000 years, although many people I know assure me that "things are getting better". Are they really?

    2. Anonymous7/16/2016

      The militarization is very scary and these police forces most cost a fortune. I think there is a cost when so much is taken, we have broken societies and people who are truly lost. It's strange most people haven't worked it all out and still believe in things like states and culture. People can embrace simplicity in both materialism and beliefs. There is only one way and that is of this planet and wider universe. Alex.

    3. Anonymous7/17/2016

      Alex..you make perfect sense.
      Our people are sick because our planet is sick. Deep down unconsciously we feel it. We feel the pain that our Earth is going through. We feel it and we act it out. If we injure our Earth we injure ourselves. We are not separate from the Earth. That is the mistake we have made...thinking that nature was seperate from us, thinking we could conquer nature ....we ended up destroying ourselves. Awake in Phoenix.

    4. Anonymous7/17/2016

      It will be interesting to see whether there is some inbuilt mechanism that will awaken people or whether it will be business as usual. This report gives an insight to the regeneration of nature, even though it was a terrible accident:



  2. Anonymous7/15/2016

    It takes me months to save enough to go to the dentist, so I feel your pain (Just not literally)

    1. Forays into dental care in Canada give us a glimpse of what it must be like in countries that do not enjoy universal health coverage. I can't imagine having to cover all medical AND dental bills out of pocket. It wouldn't leave much left over for millions of Canadian families, including my own.

      The dentist has me on a plan that will see me spend thousands of dollars over the next few years, and Linda and I have pretty good teeth and excellent dental hygiene. Argh.


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