Outside the Asylum

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I have lots of things I want to write about, but I’m a bit constrained by the fact that I don’t want to get too negative in this space. I’ve set my OT aside as a relatively positive and calming place for people to chill—though of course, people commenting are more than welcome to write about whatever they want. That limits my choice of topic somewhat, at least for these weekly threads.

In order to achieve a compromise between my head, which is full of thoughts which are no fun, and my heart, which wants to have a nice, calm space here, I thought it might be good to talk about our culture in a more general way. I’d like feedback about whether or not this kind of discussion is too much of a downer. Hopefully, it won’t be.

So one of the many things I’ve been thinking about is thrift.

thrift.jpg

My spending is your earning.
I can’t remember who first said it. I think it was one of the sane capitalists who still survive out there, bravely waving their tattered flags like the advocates of non-evangelical Christianity. It remains one of the truest things I’ve ever heard. It’s rare that you get a social fact that’s almost as immune to debate as the speed of light, but if you grant capitalism its fundamental premise, that one must pay for everything, it follows inescapably that my spending must be your earning, and vice versa. Even if you don’t grant capitalism that premise, which admittedly ignores housework (most of the time), child-rearing (most of the time), and the care of the sick and elderly (much of the time), meaning that capitalism and its No Free Lunch philosophy is actually riding on the back of a steady stream of unpaid labor,

Do you work? asks the man at the door, and she, having put down her mop and picked up the baby on the way to the door, says, No, I don't work.

the truth of the statement remains. My spending is always somebody else’s earning; any earning I do has to involve somebody else spending.

Keynesian economic theory, as I understand it, shifts the ground of these assumptions a bit by saying that the state can become “the purchaser of last resort.” In other words, when few people are able to afford to spend, the government can keep the economy going by spending on behalf of its populace, deficit spending if necessary to generate economic activity. MMT goes further by acknowledging that a government can invent money for the purpose whenever it deems it necessary. These ideas open up the field of spending and earning so that one is not confined to the concept of a bunch of people passing around a static amount of value (a vision much beloved of some capitalists that to my mind’s eye always resembles a game of musical chairs).

But wherever the spending comes from, spending is necessary for earning.

This fact complicates the moral story of capitalism, in which spending is generally seen as bad and earning as good. To be good, within the confines of the capitalist story, one should earn and save often and spend rarely. The more you make and the less you spend, the more meritorious you are and the more successful you become, until at last you reach the peak of merit and become rich. Rich people are presumed to have made this difficult journey up the mountain somewhere off camera.

But if my spending is your earning, doesn’t my refusal to spend make it more difficult for you to earn? In fact, if my goal is to maximize my earnings and savings while minimizing my spending, doesn’t that essentially mean that I want others to spend on me while I don’t spend on them? In which case, well…

What is the difference between hoarding and thrift?

I looked up the etymology of the word “thrift.”

Oxford Languages provides Google with its dictionary function, and they said the following:

Middle English (in the sense ‘prosperity, acquired wealth, success’): from Old Norse, from thrífa ‘grasp, get hold of’. Compare with thrive.
---Google result for “thrift etymology”

Now, though this is the first result I got, so far I can’t confirm it with another source. This is a more common result, and I got it from the Wiktionary:

From Middle English thrift, thryfte, þrift, from Old Norse þrift (“thriving condition, prosperity”). Equivalent to thrive +‎ -t.[1]
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/thrift

If anybody out there knows enough about Old Norse to speak to this, please let me know in the comments.

If the word “thrift” did begin as a Norse word meaning “to grasp or get hold of” and then became a Middle English word meaning “prosperity, success, acquired wealth,” then it makes sense that our modern word, with its modest evocation of good stewardship, has a rather barbaric underbelly. Your spending is my earning, and that’s great; it enables me to “grasp or get hold of” wealth, which enables me to have “prosperity, acquired wealth, success.” But my spending would be your earning; it would enable you to “get hold of” your own “acquired wealth, prosperity, success.” If I am thrifty, then I continue to hold on to what I’ve got, and refuse to contribute to others’ efforts to “grasp or get hold of” anything much. I am acquiring wealth at your expense. All this is fairly straightforward, if you take it as a mere depiction of capitalistic behavior.

But what does it have to do with morality?

I had a lot of hope when I saw this book from Oxford University Press:

https://www.amazon.com/Thrift-Thriving-America-Capitalism-Puritans/dp/01...

but if its introduction is any indication, the authors have little interest in questioning the assumption that thrift is a virtue, or in whose interest the concept has been put forward. Instead, they assume that thrift is a Good Thing (tm). They say its etymology comes from the Old Norse word for thriving, and seem not to acknowledge the etymological origin claimed by Oxford Languages, though I will have to read the whole book before being sure of that.

They say in their abstract that their work expands the notion of thrift beyond penny-pinching, and, looking through their table of contents, I do see some gestures made at sustainability (though is thrift really the best conceptual road to take to the Emerald City of green practices?) They seem to spend most of their critical thinking resources on the questions of why, and whether, Americans are sufficiently thrifty. In the context of this discussion, they also suggest that the concept of thrift became less popular from the 1950s to the 2008 financial crisis, I guess because Americans started spending so much and getting into so much debt. This implies that they don't know the difference between what people *do* and what they *believe*, because it's far too simple to assert that the concept of thrift, particularly as a moral imperative, sharply declined in American culture from 1950 to 2008. In fact, there hasn't been a decade of my life in which some political faction or other hasn't traded on the concept of thrift, often with extreme prejudice. I also note with some discomfort the fact that the 2008 crisis is being seen as a vector for increasing Americans' economic morality. Hmmmm.

I wonder if my library has reinstituted its inter-library loan yet? I don't really want to buy the book on Amazon so that I can read it, but obviously, if I want to keep talking about it, I need to read it.

How are you all today?

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

Is there a sense in which the composition of this music is a thrifty act? What about its performance? What about the big gala for Sondheim that it was part of? Is any of that thrifty? If so, how? And does considering it thrifty redefine thrift? Again, how?

And if the music, and the performance, and the gala *aren't* thrifty, then do we want a morality based on thrift?

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

And vice versa.
Yes, if we are all net savers the economy grinds to a halt, unless "money" is produced out of then air. Think of the FED chairman with a top hat and a white rabbit ("One pill makes you larger ..." Oops! Wrong White Rabbit")

Unfortunately most economists and all Conservatives can't progress beyond the firm or the household. That's why they constantly make an analogy between the US Government and a household.
The biological dynamics of predator-prey relationships is what's applicable here and it's not simple. Prey animals have very bad lives without predators, surprising as that seems because there is not an infinite amount of food and living space. Conservatives, OTOH, don't realize that if the wolves eat all the rabbits, the wolves will also starve because they can't eat weeds.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

Money is like blood; misers are like clots that lead to lethal heart attacks or aneurysms or whatever.

Hypothetically speaking, trickle-down economics might work just fine if only the super-rich just spent their incomes nearly as quickly as they took it in - and yet that's SO DIFFICULT that hedge funds are a thing, and their stated goal is to make MORE money for the client. What are they thinking?!? They're burning their own logic-candle at both ends.

JFC, if only someone put ME in charge of spending a billion dollars a year (or even just, y'know, a *small loan* of $1,000,000), the things I could do....

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

Our culture is, apparently, having a stroke.

Of course, that's ignoring the truly insane amounts of money that get spent whenever the bankers or warmongers want something.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal It would kind of HAVE TO mean that they're not just out of touch or clinging to long-discredited economic religion, but being deliberate psychopaths, knowing damned well they could save civilization at no REAL cost to themselves, but instead trying to do a slower, subtler "George Floyd" to practically the entire world...just 'cuz.

If that IS the case...

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

Are you familiar with Asatru/Heathenry? They certainly study it; after all, doing so is essential to their practice and methodology.

Funny how in the age of alternative nationalism "identity politics", pagan reconstructionists - who I'm sure are at least as numerous as, say, authentic transsexuals - are all treated like dirt, when they are acknowledged at all (as a matter of act, funny how Christianity never gets attacked by the Wokies...au contraire, they do all its worst work for it, like Constantine 2.0). Why do all the people who get upset about "cultural appropriation" seem to be cool with MARVEL's THOR movies (whom real Heathens politely groan at while their clueless relatives say 'oh, you must be SO EXCITED about that!' and Loki is remade in the image of harmless cutie Tom Hiddleston when Jim Carrey's The Mask really was far more faithful to the spirit of The Raven-God’s Friend/The Man with the Tattered Smile/Mother of Sleipnir)? Why is nobody agitating for the Catholic Church to return, or at least re-open, Rome's Pantheon to its rightful polytheistic faithful whose godS the building was literally named for?!?

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

but I don't think it has anything to do with actual heathenism or actual Vikings or anything else. I didn't realize that anybody was making that mistake.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal Apparently (so I recall hearing when I briefly attended an Asatru group years ago), even in the Viking heyday, if you called just any Norseman a "Viking" it would not have been received well. They were pirates, y'know?

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

Not from the inside, though (I've never been one).

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

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6 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

dystopian's picture

Hope everyone is doing well.

A leftover thought from last week CTMS...
The first 3.5 min. of this is Jose Feliciano's Purple Haze. He was running all over the stage when I saw him do it, at a level that you really feared he was going to run off it.

have a good one all!

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dystopian

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1 user has voted.

"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Raggedy Ann's picture

We have been conditioned not to be thrifty but to be debtors. These days, I buy all my clothing from thrift stores. As my granddaughter reminds me, "Thrifting saves lives, Oma." I love buying my clothes from thrift stores. Where else can one go and find all brands in one place? No more going from store to store for me.

Enjoy the day! Pleasantry

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The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Raggedy Ann

while becoming debtors. The idea is for those who don't have a lot of money to hold up a near-impossible ideal for themselves, and constantly beat themselves up for not meeting it; meanwhile, they can hate or despise other people who don't meet it. While doing this, they pay little or no attention to the people who set the terms of the debate.

I'm not saying you're doing this, by the way.

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8 users have voted.

"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit.

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8 users have voted.

"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Granma's picture

Part of the Internet Archive. Possible you can borrow the book from them.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Granma

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Granma's picture

Idea of pressuring, and encouraging others to also pressure, tptb to allow any and all countries to manufacture the vaccines against Covid-19? There are laws in place to allow exceptions to patent laws. This is certainly the time for exceptions. Until the global population is vaccinated, none of us are safe. And the only way to make enough vaccines in a short enough period of time to do any good, is to have manufacturing facilities in multiple countries. Several have the capacity, facilities to make vaccines, but are being prevented because the pharmaceutical companies won't give up either the recipe or their patent rights.

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@Granma
I'm reminded of when our dog discovered that there was a heart worm pill inside her daily ball of liver sausage. My wife failed to cover it thick enough and the dog learned to just lick off the good stuff and leave the pill. I told my wife, "I'll get her to take it." I held out the covered pill and waved it back and forth, up and down. Each time the dog went toward my hand, I would jerk it away. Finally when she was quivering and whining and jumping, I tossed it upward. She leaped, snapped and gulped. That's what the PTB are doing with vaccination appointments. They tell us that there is plenty of vaccine, so much that they are opening the group to 18 and above. Then they snatch it away with the on line appointment process. Until we are ready to snap at anything.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Granma

Consider the world flooded with "vaccines" of uncertain provenance where the production, packaging, transport and distribution canot realistically be tracked and accounted for, even in theory. Could be deadly.

Consider also the reaction of certain corporations and governments. I wonder how many plants would suffer mysterious fires and explosions of unknown origins.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

to write the reply that would do this piece justice but I must address the flaw in the ointment, so to speak. As a result, I'll just address bits or it piecemeal and briefly and let you fit them together.

In the context of this discussion, they also suggest that the concept of thrift became less popular from the 1950s to the 2008 financial crisis, I guess because Americans started spending so much and getting into so much debt. This implies that they don't know the difference between what people *do* and what they *believe*, because it's far too simple to assert that the concept of thrift, particularly as a moral imperative, sharply declined in American culture from 1950 to 2008.

Bernays et all, hidden persuaders and no less than the federal government and all of its arms and branches working to create and re-inforce a "consumer culture" starting with Ike and his crew who openly stated that we had to become a nation of consumers in order to support the productive machinery we had built during the war, aided and abetted by the whole shift to garrison state economics facilitated by, or possibly facilitating the cold war.

OK, Thrift versus Waste. Waste can be a complicated idea, but for the moment just think about what is "thrift" isn't akin to hoarding, but simply "not wasting shit". Don't throw out candle ends, leftovers and the like and, later on, don't go down the excess packaging road. Whether that's part and parcel of the original linguistic construction or not, it could certainly be a useful viewpoint in the whole circle jerk idea that my expenditure is your revenue. We can conjoin that with the convoluted (multifaceted) concept of an or the Estate. At some point somebody, somehow, acquires as estate and wishes to pass it on to their Heirs. Primogeniture gets involved here, but their Heirs are, culturally, their offspring. (Their widow is not an heir but a piece of property, who is entitled to get her dowry back and perhaps a smidge of recompense for the earnings to which it would have been entitled had it been invested) To clarify, this is all history, of language, of culture, of behavior and all that, history of the patriarchal world that came to exist and dominate not theory nor ideology or such. In that world, a generous patriarch might provide for some support and maintenance of said widow, even to the extent, especially if the Heirs are children, of granting her a life estate. Said life estate would be a usufruct, entitling her to use the estate for her survival (and that of the kids) subject to the provision, inherent in the pertinent laws and customs, that she not in any way "waste the corpus" - she must not be frivolous in her expenditures and usages, must properly maintain and provide for upkeep, must invest and seek a return as much as possible with the goal of being able to live off of the earnings without depleting the original "estate" and all that.

In respect of that previous bit of drollery, consider the aphorisms surrounding the general idea that one does not eat one's seed corn - an idea that predates the identification of corn with maize - linguistically "corn" has been many grains.

Finally closing in on it, ye and I cannot endlessly recycle the same dollar and survive, because we must each nibble away at it to provide sustenance. I pay you 100, you spend 3 on food and pay me 97 and I spend 3 on food and slowly it evaporates, even if nobody wastes any of it, so wherein is all this magic of the revolving dollar, even without any accumulations, thrift or suchwhat? All the bullshit theories of economics, and economic behavior evolved in a world with an income stream (NOT revenue, but income) fueled by extraction. Extraction from what? Why, from the commons, of course, until assholes of many stripes began putting flags on or in it* and thereby confiscating and or absconding with it in perpetuity. Nature could arguably recharge and endlessly fuel reasonable levels of extraction sufficient to provide reasonable levels of sustenance for a reasonable populace, but let so much as one greedy bastid waste or hoard and, and others will imitatively follow, and, in the fullness of time, the model will be revealed as an unsustainable Ponzi scheme based on the abstraction of scarce resources unless the very bottom of the economic food chain desires to engage in regenerative agriculture and othere regenerative production and is not merely permitted but positively enabled to do so.

* cf:

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@enhydra lutris

You're back from vacation and how!

Anyway, as I think I didn't make sufficiently clear in my essay--there's no actual contradiction, in my mind, between Bernays creating consumer culture, getting people addicted to buying and spending, and the culture having a strong moral imperative toward thrift.

It's basically the same with wealth as it is with food, as the adage "You can never be too rich or too thin" neatly points out. You have a culture that values thinness and punishes people for being fat, to the extent that some people kill themselves because they were called fat too often online. But that same culture invents fast food. That same culture invents processed food. That same culture adds sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to everything. That same culture decreases wages and increases work hours so much that most people have neither the time nor energy to cook. It seems fairly clear that those who have power to drive the culture in one direction or another are not actually dedicated to most of the people in the culture being thin--nor even dedicated to them NOT being fat.

But they are plenty dedicated to maintaining the moral imperative that they SHOULD be thin--or at least should not be fat.

In much the same way, our culture proliferates shopping malls, creates the Home Shopping Network and infomercials, puts billboards everywhere and has made shopping arguably one of the Internet's three biggest functions. Given all the paywalls, sometimes I think that it's the Internet's second biggest function (influencing the conversations and opinions of the populace being the first). There are innumerable other data that support the idea that we have a culture overly obsessed with buying and selling. The decline of the custom of repairing things (people replace goods instead), planned obsolescence--the evidence goes on and on. Those who drive the culture in one direction or another are not dedicated to a thrifty nation, in any sense. The last highly-placed person who tried that was Jimmy Carter, and you see where it got him. But they are plenty dedicated to maintaining the moral imperative that people SHOULD be thrifty.

The idea is to create shame, and they've created bucketloads of it. They've also created anxiety at the cultural dissonance of being pulled two directions at once. Also condemnation of others, and the resulting social divisions, all of which comes from the attempt to relieve the internal weight of shame and anxiety by offloading it onto any handy external targets one can find.

There is a big difference between what we're expected and encouraged to DO and what we're expected and encouraged to BELIEVE. And the contradiction between those things is not mere hypocrisy. It is, I think, carefully calculated to fuck up people's minds--and their relations with the world, their fellow man, and themselves.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

enhydra lutris's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

extent. I just felt it was a good opportunity to address the whole broader issue of what capitalism is really based on, how it was able to work for a while and why it is ultimaely doomed and to also try to dissociate "thrift" from pointless wealth accumulation.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@enhydra lutris

And I appreciate that. Unmooring the definition of thrift so that we can get it out of this rotting old harbor of received wisdom is a great thing to do.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

enhydra lutris's picture

Well, this might fulfill that title:

"Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there!
He wasn't there again today,
Oh how I wish he'd go away!"[5]

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away....

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

studentofearth's picture

Thoughtful spending was the of working definition of thrift taught as a child. Still use the habits today. When explaining the process to someone often use "frugal" too many automatically assume "thrift = cheap". Using money is another expression of ones internal values and physical needs. Evaluating spending hard currency should include life cycle of a product (production, journey to consumer, use and disposal, who receives the profit, practicality of do it yourself (DIY), time constraints and quality requirements. For example avoiding Amazon may be too difficult for some products since the company has engulfed so many markets. There are still a number of independent individuals who derive their income on Amazon's platform. Buy from them when making a product choice. Minimize Amazon's cut(margin) from the sale avoid Prime and 2nd day free shipping. Sometimes a direct store website can be found or different key words to search, less likely with books.

The concept of using a family household structure comparison and to government activities while maybe conservative talking point is older concept than most realize. It is used extensively in older Chinese written works such as the I Ching and Confucius works written per-Christianity discussing developing and evaluating morality. This morning I am not able to recall a biblical reference, perhaps someone else can assist.

In other words, when few people are able to afford to spend, the government can keep the economy going by spending on behalf of its populace, deficit spending if necessary to generate economic activity.
....
MMT goes further by acknowledging that a government can invent money for the purpose whenever it deems it necessary.

In addition to keeping the economy functioning it creates an opportunity for immensely profitable corruption. Only requires a small number individuals to be influenced for the diversion of future financial obligation from a population with no input or benefit of the spending. how often have we been told Economics is best left to the experts.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Mend, make and do without is a fundamental survival strategy for poor and near poor folks, most of whom were born into that condition.

I would assert that private thrift is a public virtue because it helps make the nation strong and stable. When thrifty people do spend, we look for, not the cheapest, but the best quality we can afford, which encourages good people doing good work. Buying 2nd hand helps keep useful things out of the ever increasing waste stream. Thrifty people might not be fun and we might lack exotic appeal, but we are good citizens and good, minding our own affairs, neighbors. We don't get in trouble with the law--which is EXPENSIVE, and can set you back for decades--don't have continuous parties at our houses or apartments, and don't leave our trash, most of which we find ways to reuse, strewn about the neighborhood. If I cook for myself 29 days of the month, when I do enjoy eating out with a child or grandchild, I can afford the locally owned joint which sources from local farms.

Someday, when or if things really begin falling apart, you are going to need us sober and boring workers and savers. Because your fun exciting types are not going to have a clue how to build anything back.

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Nastarana

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Nastarana @Nastarana

this misdirected comment. Sorry, Nastarana.

I was trying to talk to dystopian about Jose Feliciano!

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Nastarana @Nastarana

Not every idea promoted by the culture is meant to be put into practice. Some ideas are there so that people can aspire to them constantly, and fail constantly (like the idea of perfect beauty). People fail to live up to those ideas, and that's basically what the ideas are for: to promote a near-unreachable ideal. This creates anxiety and shame within the person, psychological states that have many uses.

Thrift, like thinness, is that kind of idea. The cultural infrastructure people inhabit does not encourage thinness: everything from our low wages and long work hours to our cities built around the automobile to most of our jobs being desk jobs to the invention of fast food to the introduction of sugar or high fructose corn syrup to so much of our total food supply--all of it mitigates against being thin (or healthy). Yet being fat makes a person an object of contempt, so much so that we've created a name for imposing that particular type of shame on a person: fat-shaming. Our culture values being thin--in theory. In practice, our culture encourages being fat. If those who have real influence over the direction of our culture really wanted people to be thin, they'd give people shorter work hours to encourage cooking; they'd severely regulate the use of high-fructose corn syrup and sugar in food; they'd do what they could to change our urban planning so that we were no longer so automobile-dependent; they'd increase subsidies to the healthier foods in the grocery store, so that buying fresh vegetables and fruit was more in reach of more people. Food deserts would not exist. In addition, they'd completely change the nature of physical education in our school system, which I and most people I know experienced as a shame factory.

Contrast that to an idea which the culture supports both in theory and in practice: the idea of getting married. (Not the idea of staying married, which is different; just the idea that one should get married during one's life, and, preferably, be married more often than one is single, at least during one's "prime.") There is support for getting married, and being married, everywhere, from tax laws and insurance to movies and books. Think about how wedding gifts are supposed to set young people up in their first homes. Great custom (and I mean that sincerely), but young people who don't get married....don't need to be set up in their first home? Because it's not a home worth mentioning, or because their lives aren't worth supporting? The culture supports marriage as an idea, and it encourages it in practice.

The idea of thrift is not like marriage; it is like being thin. It exists to create shame and internal dissonance. It's not like the PTB *want* people to be thrifty; they'd actually rather we didn't. They want us to have an idea of thrift which has an impact on our self-esteem, which can help them regulate us.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

enhydra lutris's picture

I forgot to address MMT. There is a genie that many governments, such as ours, would find difficult to put back in the bottle. They can't simply print or otherwise create money, even though the Constitutin empowers them to do so because they delegated and effectively ceded that power and authority to the central banks, in our case, the FED. The FED creates money and loans it to the government.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

QMS's picture

any more than thrift is about buying Chinese junk
just because it is heavily advertised at BJ's or Walmart.

When people learn to apply value to their purchases:
local, national, global and environmental --
the few bucks saved is but a pittance in the
overall scheme of our economy.

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