The need to "defend" frugality?

The need to "defend" frugality?

I stumbled - something I'm liable to do a lot of these days - upon an article at whose byline is "Frugal families defend their lifestyle as they save rather than spend."

Being frugal must now be defended? And so American's wonder why we have a debt and mortgage crisis? Could it be that we no longer have any concept of frugality and that those who do feel they must defend such common sense? The body of the article gets even worse.

The Economides [is that really the families name?], who don't use credit cards, believe consumers need to avoid debt, spend less than they earn and embrace a thrifty lifestyle.

These "beliefs" are unusual? Avoiding debt and spending less than you earn? Ummm...I'm sorry folks, but the very fact that this is newsworthy suggests we have a serious problem in America and there ain't no politician in the world who can FIX it by setting up systems that will allow us to get back to maintaining debt and spending more than we earn. In reality we should be spending FAR less than we earn and yet I suspect few of us do...myself included.

I'd suggest a whole host of problems.

One is that we don't listen to previous generations such as our grandparents. What the heck do they know when they cannot possibly operate an iphone or ipod and manifest the perfect image of confusion when set before a computer. This is all a part of our cult of NOW and TOMORROW. Our grandparents knew the importance of thrift and could have taught us much.

Two is that our educational system is too busy teaching revisionist history, feminist studies, and such to worry about good, solid, and basic home economics. Nevermind parents who are too busy working two jobs (to spend more) to notice little Billy has gone off the deep end and is building bombs in the garage. No need for him to learn good economic sense.

Three is that we have built a society of materialism and every facet of it caters to our insane need for MORE. It's like a drug addiction and on every corner someone is offering the drugs and 12 step programs are seen as "old fashioned" and garner CNN news stories. As I've noted before, abstinence education fails in the same way that good solid economic education can fail: we are surrounded by a billion voices and influences that cry out for us to ignore it. Furthermore, the government that represents us and our various sicknesses has more and more been designed to cater to our inevitable failures.

And finally the REAL problem from which all of the others derive their being: our fallen nature.

So...while a frugal "lifestyle" may be "ecology sound" and help us cope with rising costs, I would argue that it is also fundamentally Christian.

Given all of this, you can imagine my disbelief when politicians talk about fixing our financial woes...they might as well promise to fix our struggles with sexual lust by providing government sponsored strip clubs.

I just want to see a politician suggest/sponsor a Public Service Announcement that would say something like this: "This May when you receive your economic stimulus package check, instead of buying a flatscreen TV or little Billy an XBOX, why not pay off some of your debt?"

Now...take this to heart James...take this to heart. I write this to myself as much as to anyone else.


Anonymous said…
You make some good points. It does seem that the only thing we value is a "good deal" damn the consequences, and consuming is more important than anything else. I recently bought a 1969 Honda CT 90 (gas mileage of 100+ per gallon) to do my part in consuming less. And yesterday I walked home (about 4 miles, but pleasant), and today I, gasp, rode my bike into work (15 minutes). One of the benefits of living in a small college/farm town, as opposed to the big metro areas, is that everything is fairly accessible. When we lived at Point No Point, anywhere was at least a 15 minute drive. I do think you get out of the bigger metropolitan areas you do find that frugality is a more acceptable ethic and, in many cases, admired. Of course, I just need to get off my ass and stay out of my car. Hope you are feeling better.

Alana said…
I keep trying to think of ways to cut our lifestyle even more, and I've hit a brick wall.

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