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How Much Money Can We Spend?

              This morning, just to see what’s doing, I took a ride up through Vermont. As I drove into the village of Putney, I passed a nice, private home on the main street with a sign which said that the house was occupied by a woman who ran a business which, according to the signage, was her clinical herbologist practice.

              What the fuck is a clinical herbologist? I’ll bet you there’s no such thing in Gaza, or in Israel, for that matter.

              Putney, you should know, has a population of around 2,600 people and a median family income of $50,000 and change. The median family income in the United States is around $75,000, which gives you a pretty good idea about lifestyles and living standards in this New England town.

              Meanwhile, with a median family income which is fifty fucking percent below the national average, the town of Putney still supports a clinical herbologist.

              If anyone thinks the American economy isn’t the most dynamic and largest national economy in the entire fucking world, I invite you to come up to Putney, Vermont, drive into town on Route 5 and consider the existence of a clinical herbologist in this shitass, little town.

              And by the way, when I say we have the world’s most dynamic economy, I’m not comparing the United States to tiny tax havens like Monaco, the Caymans or Luxembourg. I’m comparing us to countries like China, which for all the Trump bullshit about how we’re now a second-rate economy compared to the Chinese, the median family income in China is somewhere around $35,000, which isn’t even close to the annual amount that the residents of Putney, VT can spend.

              We not only have to look at how much money we can piss away, but we also have to look at exactly how we piss our money away. I have a friend named Ray, who opened up one of those walk-in storage spaces which clutter the landscape around just about every town. Within a month, he had rented almost all the storage space, and was thinking of adding some more storage units across the street.

              Ray opened his storage business in 2008, when the national economy was in the tank and all we kept hearing about was the poor folks who couldn’t meet their adjustable mortgage payments and were winding up out in the street.

              So, one day I was talking to Ray, and being the typical liberal who used to believe that what CNN said was at least partially true, I said to Ray, “Gee, no wonder you’ve rented all your lockers. People are losing their homes left and right.”

              Ray laughed as he replied: “Mike – not one of my fucking tenants has lost their home. I’m fully rented because people have too much shit which they don’t want to throw away.”

              I am increasingly convinced that the reason polls keep showing that even with an unemployment rate of under 4%, people believe the economy is shit, happens to be nothing more than a residual feeling left over from the Pandemic when the average American adult couldn’t go wandering freely through the shopping mall for the first time in their entire lives.

              Ask the average American if he or she left their house to go anywhere during the past weekend and I guarantee you that the number one location will be a shopping mall. We are a country whose immense economy is overwhelmingly built on the purchase of stuff we don’t really need.

              God bless America, God bless Visa and Mastercard, and God bless the internet which gives us the chance to go shopping when it’s too late or the weather is too lousy to get into the car and drive to the mall.

              Which reminds me, there’s a new shopping mall being built about a twenty-minute drive from where I live. It’s replacing the old Eastfield Mall that had a Macy’s and a Sears as the anchor stores and will reopen next year.

              The developers are renaming the mall ‘Eastfield Commons,’ and it is planned to be a “tightly knit, walkable community,” which will allow visitors to live, work, eat, take their children to daycare, go to the gym or see a movie, all while walking just a few hundred feet.

              Will there be some new condos lining the edge of the parking lot? Of course. Which is why we are no longer going to use the word ‘mall.’ That’s because shopping and living now go together as the American way of life.

              Don’t worry. The Fake News can always find someone to interview who’s holding a droid in their hand but is behind on their rent.




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