Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just Say When

“Would you care for dessert?” asked the waiter to the couple sitting in the next booth.

“No, we’ll hold off until the economy makes a comeback,” replied the guy.

That's when I realized that austerity had become the new indulgence.

As Americans, we don’t do things half-assed because moderation just isn’t in our vocabulary. We even like to indulge in our denials, and why not? We are a country of instant oatmeal and the instant fix. We jump either wildly into spending and consumption until we are so bloated with enough debt to re-sink the Lusitania or we revert to a Flat-Belly diet of extreme denial to try and whip ourselves back into shape. Our indulgence with excess is done with the same zeal that we embrace our austerity. I realize our wildly swinging economy is a reflection of our yo-yo dieting, crash-or-burn mentality, but wouldn’t a regular run on the treadmill be easier?

Here, we go from the extreme fat to the extreme thin. Americans love diets because we use the same compulsions that got us fat to then get us thin. I believe we have yet to connect the dots that, in either case, we are falling into our natural tendency for National Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder… NOCD, for short…or kNocked Down…because, either way, it’s a punch in the stomach. How else to explain saving an economy mired in years of excess by…yes, you guessed it, piling up even more untold, unreserved, out-of-control spending and debt? If we believe the economists this may be the way to do it but am I the only one to see the irony here?

In the past, saving was a virtue and spending a necessity. Now our spending has become the necessity for our very own survival. It appears we can no longer gastric-bypass our way around the feeding frenzy that's consumed us. However, must we choose the surgical option every time? Haven’t we preached enough about the benefits of moderation in diet, and exercise to think that maybe this might be applied to our economy of lifestyle? The problem is we can’t share the dessert we have to eat it all. Then we battle our national bulimia using the same indulgence trying to expel the excess…but in this case, maybe the only thing to throw up is our hands.

So my advice might be to order the dessert…just save a bite for the rest of us.

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