The Bad Economy is Your Fault!
Almost in immediate response to yesterday’s news that domestic spending by consumers went up 2.5% yesterday the Economist magazine delivers the ultimate downer. They have produced a handy chart showing how the real reason the economy is doing so poorly isn’t just because Americans are out of work, although that is part of it. The larger reason is because our spending on extras has gone down as those who are out of work spend less, and those who are employed get worried that a pink slip might be right around the corner.
The chart shows nominal spending in light blue and ‘real spending’ – what people are actually doing – in dark blue … and the areas where real spending have dropped are pretty significant.
Americans are eating out less, spending less on hobbies and most of all, getting more out of clothes and furniture rather than buying new things. Now: is an American public that is more frugal, more selective about spending and making better use of items really a bad thing overall?
In the grand scheme of things: no. As the chart shows, things like public transportation expenditures going up has a positive environmental and economic impact on most cities. However the overall American economy isn’t geared towards conservative spending and repairs, it’s geared towards blowing wads of cash on disposable goods and using credit to buy the rest. So while politicians in Washington try to figure out how to stimulate the economy as a whole, they might want to figure out how to pry dollars out of the pockets of regular people, too. It turns out that might be where the real stimulus lurks.
Latino Pants and N****r Brown
Over at Racialicious, their Fashion blogger noticed a fascinating advertisement in Temperley’s, a London clothier. A pair of tight tan colored leather pants were referred to as “Latino Pants.” Now the funny part is, no one, including the blogger, has ever heard of Latino Pants. Latino is not a type of style, it’s not an ancient work for leather, or in any shape way or form related to the pants at all, except that they are tight, leather and tan. The article goes on to discuss how incredibly racist the fashion industry still is and just how anyone in their right mind could’ve thought that it was sexy or reasonable to name a pair of pants “Latino” just because of the ‘color’.
However, I am not all that surprised, either by the racism of the industry or the naming. European fashionistas have always had a grand old time appropriating and commodifying people of color so this move shocks me less than reminds me of how much we still have in common with our brothers and sisters abroad.
I remember my grandfather once telling me that during World War II he and his friends were looking for shoe polish in a small town outside of London. At the time, Black American soldiers in England were treated slightly better at home (but not by much). British military men were pretty hostile to Black men who had flown across the ocean to bail them out. So when my grandfather and his friends asked what colors of show polish were available the clerk, without a touch of shame or irony said “We have black polish, and we have NIGGER BROWN”. And, literally, there was a tin of shoe polish on the counter emblazoned with “Nigger Brown” on the sides. So it’s not hard to see how 50 years later, not much has changed – except the type of people being commodified.
Where’s Obama’s Money?
There is a fascinating piece in Salon about current campaign finance patterns that spells bad news for Obama and mediocre news for his likely challenger Mitt Romney. The number of donors, if not the overall amount being raised, for President Obama has gone down considerably this year and is not likely to change in the coming months. While the president raised over $70 million in the last fundraising cycle this year, that was bolstered by money from the Democratic National Committee. Stories have circulated throughout the year of low attendance fundraisers for Obama and smaller crowds.
It has to be disconcerting to the president that fewer small donors want to open their wallets and support his campaign. Here’s the catch however. It does not appear that much of the money is changing parties as much as the money is simply not being spent. While some voters and businesses in swing states have sent checks to Romney over Obama, this time the larger reason for the drop off is because Obama donors simply aren’t giving again. So, even though recent polls show that 4 in 5 Obama voters in 2008 plan on voting for him again, their enthusiasm is dropping much faster than national unemployment numbers. Maybe that’s part of Obama’s problem.