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amaycatbaker On July - 25 - 2011


Uncertainty, something every business person has talked about ad nauseum. What does Uncertainty really mean, that wages will go up for women? That they might have to buy affordable health care? That taxes might go up because business has not payed taxes in the first place?

The term has been undefined, but used repeatedly as an excuse to not grow their businesses.

In this difficult economic time, some businesses are going bankrupted, because people have been downsized. The downsizing means the unemployed can’t buy products, which means more downsizing, which means more people not consuming, and it never ends.

Our consumer based society depends on jobs. Those jobs provide the money for the consumption.

The consumer society was decided on in the 1950’s, with the idea of planned obsolescence. This concept is when an object breaks at a set amount of time, so the consumer will have to go out and consume. This might have seemed a great idea, as long as there was an industrial base with unions to create the jobs to pay for the goods.

This idea in essence set up the society to fail. How can a culture continue to buy, rebuy and continue to buy. And as some may know the waste of the planned obsolescence is an on going issue.

Since this historic idea of encouraging endless consumption, the business people created, there has been the need to feed the beast, and continue to create objects to be consumed at a cheaper price. The prices had to become cheaper because businesses were going after the unions and high paying jobs, so the consumer had to look for cheaper because of less money.

Add easy credit to the situation, it lead to the mess.

So back to the uncertainty, what does it mean? The Obama Administration inherited a mess. And have taken actions to try to continue a system that everybody has been trained to enjoy, because consumption has been advertised as such.

The Uncertainty was created by business. It was short term decisions, that lead to long term problems. And it will have to come from people to figure out how to clean up the mess and look for a way to change the consumption economy, into something more sustainable.

13 Responses so far.

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  1. whatsthatsound says:

    I grieve, because I look at the word “sustainability” and I don’t even see how it can be possible any more. And yet it wasn’t that long ago that human interference with the biosphere was kept within limits. We pretty much lived like other species. Maybe we were closer to pine trees (that acidify the land they grow on so only they can grow there) than say, butterflies, but we weren’t actually destroying the land and killing the oceans which, sorry AD, that’s what we’re doing now.

    • amaycatbaker says:

      Very good points, and business to keep alive doesn’t think about sustainablity, it seems, just comsumption. There has to be a way to find the balance.

  2. ADONAI says:

    Welcome to the Planet amaycatbaker. You’re gonna hate having me comment on your blog posts. But don’t worry, that’s normal.

    And here we go :)

    We have to spend. We have to consume. It’s our entire economy. Uncertainty is a part of economics. Especially in a country that prides itself on it’s entrepreneurship. When you bring a new product to market there is no guarantee it will sell. And even if it does sell there is still uncertainty in the long term market.

    We invest in possibilities. That’s our whole country. The best and worst example of this is the stock market. Everyday uncertainty makes a man rich or poor.

    The system itself is not a problem. We’ve been running pretty much the same system since the end of the Civil War with small changes here and there. Yes, to many in this country unions are A BIG CHANGE, but they are only a piece of the economic puzzle.

    But the system is changing again. American businesses want to be part of the “global economy” but they don’t want to involve the rest of the country. And for good reason. If America once again sets the standards in a global economy that will mean fair wages(not great but fair), UNIONS, care for labor, and all the other things that made this country great.

    Anyone waiting for the economy to go back to where it was in the 90’s is doomed to disappointment. That ship has sailed. We can, however, return to the results from the 90’s. It won’t take new rules or legislation or some change in the fundamental way we do business.

    First, it would be nice if we actually,you know, enforced the very good laws we already have on the books. Laws covering fraud, tax evasion, and business practices. There was more investigation done on the “Balloon Boy” story than on the financial meltdown.

    After that it is very much on us. We got carried away with our credit system. You can say you were “suckered” in the housing mess but you’re still a sucker. The people, more than anything else, need to get their shit together. There are people in Congress making the case that we have to sacrifice a little now to gain a lot later down the road. But few people are down with that. They think it’s the politicians’ fault and they have to fix it. Without affecting them at all. Good luck with that.

    Go look at debt owned by the public. Not public debt, there’s a slight difference. I’m talking about debt owned by us and our selfish decisions. It’s obscene. It has more than kept pace with other debt. And we wanna blame it all on Republicans. That’s why you won’t be able to fix anything. That’s why obvious decisions descend to childish shouting matches.

    Democrats are trying to work around a problem without blaming most of it on us. A tough task. Especially since we deserve some blame. But they’d like to be re-elected. But Republicans pounce on that and use people’s own selfish nature against them. The world is changing and our government wants us to stay put. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. So we shouldn’t be fielding ads about Republicans or ads talking about Washington politics. We should be running ads asking the American people what share pf blame they think they have. Ask them just what they’re going to do to fix things.

    You know, advertisements sponsored by the Foundation to Wake America the Fuck Up. We make politics look like a distant thing that none of us have a say in. That needs to change. The day a majority of the country realizes the shared sacrifice then we will start to move back to the top of the heap. When politicians say you can’t trust the government, they’re talking about you. Believe it or not, we are the government. It’s all laid out there in the Constitution. This country and everything in it belongs to us. If we wanna give stewardship to a pack of politicians then we damn well better not bitch about the results.

    Man, that got way off topic didn’t it? Sorry.

    • amaycatbaker says:

      No, I tend not to hate too many people, and to forgive those that I shouldn’t. So you’re okay, as always. :)

      You’re points are valid, damned if we do, and damned if we don’t try. The world is full of stuff like that, and we get to live the best life possible, in those limits. :)

  3. Emerald1943 says:

    Welcome, amaycatbaker! A most thought-provoking article! I like it!

    Planned obsolescence has long been a thorn in my side! Take my fridge, for example…a product of GE (which company pays NO tax in the US). It runs just great, keeps my produce fresh and crispy, and everything at my finger tips! The problem is that they put the most crappy coating on the exterior of the thing! Rust has formed under the coating and made its way through, causing my relatively new fridge to look like I got it from a trash dump!! So, if I want my kitchen to look like an advert from “House Beautiful”, I must go out and buy another (GE) fridge..,I simply must have the newest, most perfect and best fridge! And at only $1,500 for a replacement…what a deal!!

    They did start all this in the 50’s, as I remember. There were the early black-and-white TV ads showing the American housewife in her new and “modern” labor-saving kitchen, turning out goodies for her grateful family. A new car in the drive, the latest in gadgets, new furniture, all pushed by Madison Avenue advertising to encourage us to spend, spend, spend. It had to come to an end!

    Now, we have Waley-World and their cheap Chinese goods…everything the American housewife could possibly want! The trouble is that she no longer has the money to buy even the cheap stuff! I can’t say that I am sorry to see the “keeping up with the Jones'” era come to an end. It’s just that the change from consumption to savings is going to be painful for a population that has become accustomed to having it all.

    Business can count on this certainty…if they destroy the unions, send all the jobs overseas, and lobby to keep the middle class down and uneducated, they will no longer have customers to buy their products. A no brainer!

  4. funksands says:

    ACB, thanks for the post. There is a troubling trend that becomes more apparent every year: Many large corporations are finding that innovation through research and development, new products, efficiency, etc is not where the profits are.

    Innovation through legislation is. As margins begin to shrink globally due to increased competition, large American firms have found that one of the easiest ways to maintain their profit margins is through legislation.

    Sweetheart trade deals, tax incentives to ship jobs overseas, regulatory “reform”, tax-offsets, subsidies, to name a few.

    The average S&P-sized company now gets 45% of their earnings from overseas. This is untaxed if it is not repatriated into the US. Why would ANY company NOT lobby to keep that sweetheart deal in place?

    • amaycatbaker says:

      Good thoughts. :)

    • whatsthatsound says:

      So true, Funky. I posted somewhere earlier on this site that the CFO of a company makes more than the Director of Human Resources and the Director of R&D combined at American corporations, on average. They are making money off their portfolios and the other things you mentioned.

  5. KQuark says:

    Welcome amaycatbaker, excellent foray into the Planet.

    You bring up a great point and I think the financial crisis has certainly created an environment of uncertainty in the economy for sure. It should go away in time but there are psychological aspects of the crash that will linger on. People are just not going to push demand as much as they did in the past because with the tight lending they cannot use their homes as piggy banks like they did during the housing expansion. That’s pretty obvious from the massive decline in equity during the last 2 plus years.

    IDK if the crisis will create a penny pincher generation like it did with the greatest generation though. It seems like the majority of people are spending all they bring in or saving just a little.

  6. kesmarn says:

    Welcome to the Planet, amaycatbaker, and thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    I’m always intrigued when Republican leaders and corporate execs haul out the “U word.” Uncertainty. That’s a code word if ever there were one, isn’t it?

    I’m constantly hearing about very wealthy individuals who got that way because they purportedly “worked hard and took risks” (and therefore, presumably deserve every dime of their billions).

    Now — suddenly — risk taking is out of fashion. They want CERTAINTY. Certainty that they will never be taxed. Certainty that they will not be regulated in any way. Certainty that unions are broken beyond repair. Certainty that they can destroy the environment with impunity. Certainty that Republicans will be in charge of government for eternity.

    Otherwise they plan to sit on their hoards of cash. No hiring. No expansion. Just safety. Safety for the uber-rich, that is.

    The rest of us can eat cake.

    Mighty bold entrepreneurial spirit out there, no? 😉


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