Americans sell possessions and buy used to cut costs

Good for the environment but a bad sign as to any economic recovery

by Michael Smith

More and more Americans, to it would appear, are selling possessions in order to make ends meet, even selling used children's toys to secondhand dealers, the same as with other items, including family heirlooms.

When it comes to buying things they now, more often than not, look at choosing used rather than new. Amazing what a downturn can do, even as regards to suddenly looking at used again. Also very green for any item that is thus brought back into circulation does not end up in the landfills.

While the fact that folks buy used, secondhand, rather than new may be very good for the environment but it is a bad sign as far as the economy is concerned. It means that people do not believe the talk of the politicians as to this crisis being of short duration only.

The feeling that I, and especially many analyst, have as regards the current economic situation, the credit crunch and the business closures is that it is not going to get better quickly; definitely not in the time frame that the governments, in the USA, Britain and elsewhere, try to tell the people.

Some analyst said that from where he is standing and from what he is seeing that this could be as bad if not even worse than the crisis of the 1930s. If that be so then the gods help us for most people are today in no position to overcome this.

First of all the communities that once existed and that helped one another are gone and secondly most of them are so deep in dept that they do not stand a chance.

In the 1930s as well as before and even after until well into the 60s and 70s people did not live on credit then - in the main – and only lived within their means, as far as the majority was concerned. Purchases were made mainly in cash back then and you saved up for expensive items and did not go out to get it because the Joneses had one or the Millers. You looked at whether you needed it and whether you could afford it.

Enter the era of easy loans and everyone went out with credit cards and such on a spending spree and most people began to live well beyond their means. It had to be the latest TV, the latest HiFi, the latest sofa and such, often just because the neighbors got a new one, regardless whether the old one was bad or not and from what I have seen when growing up even already doing the rounds collecting all those items that people put out at the curb for the special collections to take most of it was in good order.

It was only a matter of time until this bubble burst and it finally has done, in the US as well as elsewhere.

I am more than convinced that there is no quick fix to this and that we will be going through an number of years if not even a decade of very bad economics but, in many instances this may not be a bad thing at all. We may in fact get back to proper communities of people, in the real world as well as the virtual world, that will work together for the common good and support each other and we may also, finally, because of costs, get back the local firms making things. This would be good for our communities and the planet.

The horrible greed that has caused all this may, hopefully, be overcome and maybe we could even get a banking system that does not charge usury, like the Muslim banks. Chance would be a fine thing, I know.

Our countries, whether Britain or America, claim to be based on Christian principles but if that is so then I must say that I think that the Christian faith has absolutely nothing to offer the world. I am serious here. In fact, personally, I do not think that it has anyway. Please no one tell me that those people are just an exception, etc.

Capitalism has not worked and neither has socialism, I am aware of the latter fact as well. Is there a system that we could find so that good could come out of evil in this case?

Maybe out of this collapse or nigh collapse, if we work carefully on it, something good may come. But only if we, the people, actually work on it and ensure that the greedy bankers and politicians do not get to spoil and ruin it again.

It was greed that got us into this mess, total greed. Greed by bankers as much as greed by those who took out the loans.

Many British municipalities and charities are in dire straights because they have lost lots of money in the collapse of the Islandic banks. I feel so sorry for them, NOT. They invested in those unprotected banks of that foreign country for what reason? For the very reason of greed. Island's banks were offering high interest rates, rumored in the region of 15%-25% on high value investments and those institutions and councils thought they could make great profits this way. Now, as far as the councils are concerned it is the local taxpayers, that is to say, the residents, that have to pick up the bill or they will have to face loss of services. No council official, however, seems to be held accountable for those actions of having invested abroad.

Let us hope that good will come out of this and that we will have a new system, one that will be by the people for the people, and maybe we could even have new governments in that same vein. I know, chance would be a fine things, but... the truth is that it is now up to us what we make out of this crisis.

If we, the people, be willing and are prepared to have real solidarity and community then maybe, just maybe, a new society can rise from the ashes. We can but hope (and pray).

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008