Friday, December 26, 2008

Capitalism: my part in its downfall

Oh dear. It seems I am a traitor. You see, I thought I was clever to shop smartly and save money, but I was wrong. The New Zealand Herald has decreed that shopping is not just a feeling but is a social duty, one which I have failed to carry out adequately.

That´s the trouble with us pinko intellectual types. We always think we are being clever but we just help the enemy in doing so. Only this evening, I was in the supermarket for the sole purpose of saving money on Christmas goodies. I found Classic European marshmallows, from Guatemala, on sale for one Dollar - a quarter of their price two days ago. I found mince pies at a third of their pre-Christmas price and discounted Bournvita; boy, are we going to party tonight. But we party at the expense of the Economy. You might have thought that putting off buying Christmas stuff until Boxing Day was practicing restraint and delaying gratification; but no, it amounts to economic sabotage. If we all did that sort of thing, it would lead to Communism, or at least the collapse of everything we hold dear.

And a dogma is not just for Christmas. Those of us who buy the budget tinned tomatoes, because we know they are just the same as the tins with colourful labels and fake Italian names, are not being prudent; we are being too clever for our own good and that of the Nation.

It is not just us bohemian types who are the cause of trouble. Much of the blame can be laid at the doors of ordinary people with jobs. As the Herald notes, with its usual compassion:
People do not spend freely when they fear for their jobs.Yet the less they spend the greater the risk may be to their jobs. Business starts a vicious spiral with lay-offs and consumers continue it when they take fright. There is no point saving money in a recession. Prices are low, builders, electricians and the like are available again. There is no better time for households to stock up, do repairs and extensions, afford some luxuries.
Yes missus, this is no time for prudence. Putting your money away for a rainy day is not the thing to do. Think of the Economy. Get yourself that Dralon lounge suite you have always wanted. Besides, your money could be useless if you cause a recession by not spending: before you know it, you will be pushing a wheelbarrow full of millions of Deutschmarks to the baker´s, just to get a loaf of pumpernickel.

If ordinary kiwi battlers don´t spend money, the Government will. That sort of thing leads to a social market economy and, before your know it, Auckland will have an underground railway.

Fortunately, we now have a Government that won´t squander your money on an integrated public transport network. No, this Government has put its hope in consumers and will redistribute wealth from the public sector to kiwi mums and dads. In fact, the Government has so much faith in ordinary taxpayers that it is prepared to borrow money on what´s left of the international money markets, just to redistribute it as tax cuts. It is also going to cut the Wellington bureaucracy, putting out of work people who save much of their inflated salaries to send their children to Art School and spend what is left on opera tickets and hand-pressed Extra Virgin olive oil.

Now, more than ever, decisions to spend or save are crucial. In the past, you will have heard that we spend more than we save, giving us debts second only to Iceland. Under the old Government, this was considered a Bad Thing. But too much saving makes shop-keepers fearful, which is a Worse Thing. So the responsible thing to do, socially, is to spend your money like there is no tomorrow (which there probably isn´t, anyway).

And don´t listen to the doleful predictions from supposed seers. Cancel your subscription to the Economist, ignore the Financial Times, shun the Wall Street Journal. All this pessimism about a so-called global recession causes panic and disorder. In any case, much of that money we don´t have any more was inflated asset wealth, things like the value of your house or your grandmother´s life savings. So get yourself a new ranch-slider or a spa pool, for the good of the country.

Better still, follow the example of our Prime Minister and buy a mansion in Parnell. In fact, he bought three and knocked them into one, keeping lots of builders and electricians in work. And he has three other houses, so he probably spends a fortune on velvet curtains and porcelain figurines. He is doing his bit, so how about you?

Most of all, don´t listen to those cupcake-munching liberals in their op-shop clothes who sneer that Herald Editorials must be written in crayon. That sort of talk only leads to responsible journalism.


Amanda said...

I don't know how you can bring yourself to read the Herald [shudders] Don't worry too much about the Wellington bureaucracy. I don't know but I've been told that in the 90s all the "redundant" public servants cleaned up as consultants. The phrase rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic somehow springs to mind...

Off to make some cupcakes now

Robyn said...

Get yourself that Dralon lounge suite you have always wanted.

One of those giant puffy couches that people of certain socio-economic groups tend to favour. In fact, the smaller the living room, the larger the couch.

That will surely help the economy.

Paul said...

Tea lady: I read this crap so you don´t have to.

Robyn: "people of certain socio-economic groups;" you put it so delicately.

Joe W said...

That sort of thing leads to a social market economy and, before your know it, Auckland will have an underground railway.

Like, a massive state-initiated job-creating infrastructure project, or a network of clandestine secret routes and safe-houses smuggling the oppressed out of the new slave economy?

Anonymous said...

Way back in the '80s the NZR magazine (my Dad worked for them) ran a piece where they showed that in real terms more money had been spent on feasibility reports etc on a tube for Auckland than the initial scheme proposed in the 19thC would have cost.

I have always thought that was NZ in a nutshell, always bitching about how we don't have a first world infrastructure but howling in pain when asked to pay for it.

Paul said...

Ah yes, feasibility studies, a sure way to delay making a decision indefinitely. What dismays me is that when Parliament wants to do something (such as pulling down the Radio New Zealand building for no better reason than MPs disliking it), that thing will be done over night. But when something needs to be done, it will be held up by studies and reports.

How about that second Harbour Bridge, then?

Russell Brown said...

I'll see your Herald editorial and raise you some amazing Christmas gibberish from Fran O'Sullivan:

"The frontiers my parents' generation faced are different from today. But the frontier mentality that led my forbears to be proudly self-reliant and adamantly against government dependence endures, with a capacity to take delight in life's simple pleasures instead of being captive to a consumerist affluenza with all its attendant dissatisfactions.

"Far better to reserve our dissatisfactions for what really matters and can be used as a motivator to change things for the better."


Gareth said...

Nitpick: you can't hand press Extra Virgin olive oil, you need a bloody great machine.