Julie takes the buy/don't buy debate in a new direction, namely, "Buy what?" She writes:
I'm a generally frugal person. I suppose by that I mean I do not buy what I do not need. I resist the notion that, for the collective good, I should now begin to buy that which I do not need. Indeed, I suspect the world would be in better shape overall if people only bought what they needed. Yet this seems, according to the folks you've had talking, to be a mistaken impression. I need to buy more stuff, we all need to by more stuff, endlessly, in order to ensure (somehow) that there is enough for everyone. I feel like there's something missing in this -- doesn't this just mean we all end up with too much stuff and the world ends up quite depleted.
So then I have a different question. Suppose I do not want to buy more stuff. Would it help if instead I bought more expensive stuff? Say substituted local organic apples for industrial apples? Artisanal cheeses for conventional cheeses? That way I'd at least be spending a bit more money. But would it have the desired effect on the economy?
I'm sort of hopeful you'll tell me there's a reason to buy the fancy cheeses.
Julie, we just finished an interview for today's podcast that's all about the drop-off in consumer spending. From what I understand, the nation's gross domestic product will go up by $1 regardless of whether you spend that much more a single piece of cheese or buy a few pencils at the dime store.