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Friday, January 18, 2008

A Strange New World

This past holiday season, the retail stores announced that they were having a bad season. People weren't buying. Sweaters sat on the tables, boots remained in stockrooms. It had been a mild autumn and people were not looking to buy "winter" items. Gas prices were over $3/per gallon, taking a bigger bite out of disposable income, businesses were continuing to downsize and offshore and consumers were being more cautious with their spending. By the end of the year, officials were beginning to talk of a slowdown in the economy. And there's the paradox.

Consumer spending drives our economy. The more we spend, the better the economy is. Yet, we keep hearing how we are being controlled by our "things," and HGTV has a show called Mission Organization for people with too much "stuff." Retail therapy is considered bad for people (yet apparently good for the economy).

Do our things really make us happier? Or is that all an illusion. How much stuff is too much. A friend of mine has roughly 3500 books, more than any one person could read. A PDA file is needed to keep track of the titles and authors to avoid duplication. Is it too much when you don't even know what you have?

I don't have the answers, but I know that I am working toward decluttering my life, getting rid of unnecessary things and making full use of the things I will keep. I don't believe you have to go the minimalist route in life, but having less isn't such a bad thing. Perhaps our economy needs to reinvent itself, become something more than a "thing" provider. We've entered a strange new world and it's going to be an interesting ride over the next several years.