Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Selling the US by the dollar

Posted by alifinmath on January 3, 2008

At last: a writer after my own heart. Exhibit 1:

As has been proven so many times in the recent past, from America’s budget and trade deficits to its crumbling infrastructure, its appallingly dysfunctional primary and secondary school system, its non-existent savings rate, and the total diffidence with which it approaches the global environmental impact of its prosperity, this is a country that looks at the prospect of any pain or inconvenience in the present with such boundless levels of abhorrence that it is more than willing to satisfy its heroin-like addiction to immediate gratification with sales of any or all of its national heirlooms.

and Exhibit 2:

Mindless zombies haunting shopping malls as if by instinct, for reasons they barely know. You don’t have to wait until the end of the world to see that – you can see it all the time, including during the recently concluded holiday shopping season, in any American shopping mall. And that just may be the salvation of the American economy after all.

In what is, according to some media reports, the bleakest time in finance history since the moneychangers were driven from the Temple, Americans keep spending. How can they not? As that the French are justifiably proud of their culture and cuisine, the Germans their engineering and manufacturing prowess, what is it that Americans can be more proud about than their continued willingness to exhaust 200 years of built-up treasure on cheap trinkets that they will dispose of and replace in six months? No matter what the politicians bleat on in the Iowa cornfields about the centrality of Jesus in American life, the country’s real unifying faith, affirmed no matter what race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, is mindless consumerism.

(By the way, these pieces can be read in Chinese as well.)

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