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Excerpt From 'Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture'

The waning years of the last millennium brought profligate spending in a time of reduced means. There were more tempting outlets for disposable income than ever before, and more payment schemes and forms of credit with which to buy them. President George W. Bush’s stirring call to spend after the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11 seemed surreal to those Americans who recalled President Carter’s 1979 “sweater speech,” in which he donned a cardigan and asked Americans to turn down their thermostats to conserve energy for the sake of national prosperity and security. National leaders cranked up mass consumption through tax cuts and other spending stimulants, while taunting countries such as Japan where the culture promoted saving over spending. With the real price of many consumer goods only half of what they were a century ago, Americans worried less about accumulating debt than about the lost opportunity of not buying. Obsessed with “getting ours,” we sometimes failed to notice or acknowledge the real price we paid for all those marvelous bargains. … Back to Article

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