Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Unconscious Consumer

I watched about five minutes of "Oprah" this morning. That was all I could take before whacking the tube with a pillow or worse.
Her guests, a family of five, habitually kept the heat at 82 degrees, spent $200 a crack on groceries mostly consisting of junk food and threw half of it out, left the computer and tv on whether anyone was watching it or not. More disturbing was the daughter who deliberately damaged the tv in her room because she wanted a new one and Daddy wouldn't buy it for her. Mom spent a lot of time on line shopping. The kids refused to eat her cooking, prefering fast food.
The family had conscented to participate in an experiment: for one week, with cameras going, they would keep the heat at 70, not eat out, and limit tv to an hour a day and computer use to schoolwork. Mom was browsing on line, the heat was repetedly reset to 82, and the tv was left on when one of the daughters nodded off.
That prompted me to turn off the show. Now, don't get me wrong. I hope that someday the parties in the financial industry who contributed to creating an economy that supports their draconian treatment of consumers (we've all had the switch-a-roo on payment dates and subsequent late fees) get brought to justice someday, whether in the legal system of getting reincarnated as roaches (apologies for insulting roaches). We also need to look at this economic climate as a springboard for making new, or in some cases, returning to older, choices. We need to do this not just for ourselves, but for the future.

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