Thursday, February 5

Of Course, One Difference Is That The Tories Haven't Spent The Last Forty Years Trying To Convince The Public That Snow Shovels Lead To Socialism.

Anne Applebaum, WaPo:
Trudging around snowy London, it was impossible to escape another thought: Surely what's true of the weather is true of other kinds of unexpected change, too. People who no longer remember slow economic growth, for example, might not be able to cope with negative growth, let alone a severe recession. In London, it hasn't snowed much for 18 years, so no one owns a snow shovel -- and if they do, they don't know how to use it. In the United States, the economy hasn't really collapsed since 1929, so no one knows how to save string and tinfoil -- and if they did, they wouldn't know what to do with them. A whole set of skills, from cooking with leftovers to recycling bottles (not because it's green, but because it's thrifty) has been lost during two generations of prosperity, in much the same way the British have forgotten how to drive their cars through slush. The last time I went to have some shoes resoled in Washington, the cobbler told me he wasn't going to be in business much longer, so low had the demand for his services sunk. Does anyone know how to repair toasters anymore? What about television sets?
I SEE; now it's the public's fault that mega-capitalism has been able to lobby, or "lobby", its way into an economy and a government designed to protect stock prices rather than labor? Like the producers of consumer electronics, clothing, and "convenience" items are unaware they benefit from premature obsolescence? They don't know the relative profit margins of shoddy vs. well-made products, nor the precise point where the Returns begin Diminishing? They haven't been manipulating this sort of thing for decades, and as much by political as economic means? I grant you it's The Public that voted for Empty Promises and Rising Tides time and again, but the public can't be expected to know better without the repeated application of Hard Lessons. People toss out junk and buy new because it's cheaper to do so; it's cheaper because that benefits Big Business. Lady, Thomas Edison's light bulbs still work.

And I'm told tin foil makes lovely--and durable--protective headcoverings, though that depends to some extent on what's about to fall on you.


Anonymous said...

yʻknow, living in Hawaii, iʻve had zero opportunity to develop snow shovel wielding skills.

BTW, what is this "snow" stuff? Is it something different from the quotidian shoveling, requiring a specialized wield, or perhaps a Govʻt License? Please, gentle random reader within Doghouse shouting distance, guide me toward a how-to DVD just in case this "snow" thing happens here.



Julia said...

Oh, FFS.

This would be the same Anne Applebaum who said we didn't need a paper receipt from voting machines because she never asks for one when she uses an ATM?

Yeah, I'll bet she burns through the ramen noodles like they're going out of style.

I learned to cook from my nonna, who survived the depression on a farm in back-mountain Italy. If Anne Applebaum needs some scraps to make stock with, they're in my freezer.

Narya said...

Jesus tapdancing christ. Who are these fuckwads? there are plenty of us out here who have, in fact, learned Thrifty Ways (how else you gonna get through grad school?) and continue to practice them even when we make more money. Because that could change (the "making more money" part, I mean). Some of us cook precisely so we have leftovers; some of us use scraps and other-than-perfect produce; some of us even hunt our own meat (or know someone who does, in my case). And I know a great cobbler, in case anyone needs one.

heydave said...

Let me ask: if such whiny fucktards can actually get paid for such profundity... WHERE"S MINE??!?

Lady, just because you're a self indulgent, self absorbed "deep thinker" don't make your thoughts worth repeating.

Julia said...

that's the weird part. She was a Soviet Union specialist until the field collapsed, then she wrote about Europe for a while (presumably until her husband became a cabinet officer in Poland and she had to stop).

Now for some reason they've decided to give her a domestic opinion slot. Unfortunately, her only strong opinion as such is that the rest of us should concede that her experience of the world is universal because she's, well, better than we are.

heydave said...

Maybe I should get more sleep or do fewer/better/different drugs but it really pushes my goddamn button when someone "observes" a change in life (read: the lifestyle of others) when it really bears no resemblance to that life thingie of mine.

But, yeah, I forget: she's better!

Shay said...

Applebaum may be right about people in London and DC, but in other parts of the world we are still having our shoes repaired and zippers replaced on our jeans and saving cans to sell back to the local junkman.

He's not called a junkman anymore but that's what he does. And if journalists in London and DC bothered to leave their comfort zones and visit neighborhoods where real people live, they'd find junkmen and shoe repair shops there, too.

Anonymous said...

It's not only cheaper to replace stuff, it's safer financially. We tried to do the green and thrifty thing ten years ago, get a TV repaired instead of replaced though we could have afforded a new one. Figuring out where to take it was fun for a start. We spent over three hundred bucks getting first one part then another replaced as the guy pulled his Colombo-esque "Oh, yeah, one more thing" routine. And it *still* didn't work.

We gave up, bought a new, lighter, better one for slightly more than we had paid to get the other repaired, because we didn't know how much more we were going to wind up paying to get the damned thing to actually work.

And guess what, we don't get stuff fixed anymore. We learn lots of things from experiences. This last winter, we learned how to shovel snow with a garbage can lid, in fact, here in Seattle. (I've also learned that reusing tin foil leads to food poisoning, but that it is recyclable.)

I used to be a decent survivor, I'd challenge Applebaum to live on the streets for even two weeks. But I still don't know how to write a check. Humans are funny that way, we tend to learn stuff we need to learn. But it's not always enough.

My own Nonna saved string all her life and as far as I know it never made the difference between having a roof over her head. It sure as hell didn't save enough pennies that she didn't end up needing help with the bills when she developed ALS.

Seriously, "Sure, you've been mugged daily for the last thirty years or so, but pull yourself up by your re-soled shoestrings"? I don't own a snowshovel, Ms Applebaum, but I know where to get a pitchfork.

Julia said...

You know what, D? I should have known you were italian somewhere.

You're right, and I'm wrong. I can be as frugal as I want to be, and if someone bigger than I am wants to take it away they can.

But at the same time our nonnas were right. Because they earned everything they asked from the world.

Even if mine was absurdly proud that the people in the suburb she lived in with my married-well aunt thought she looked like Nancy Reagan.

Oh, and I heart you. But you knew that.

TM said...

Shoe repair? I'd imagine that most Americans don't own any shoes worth repairing. I know I don't, anyway. My Kohl's on-sale shoes will be going into the hopper when I'm done with them, to be replaced by much the same, at a price very near to what it would be to repair them.

Anonymous said...

I'm an absolute mutt, Julia. Actually, both my grandmothers were that way, and it didn't work out all that well for either of them. (Though slightly better for the English one, but she had a job most of her life, which helps, but still left her in a government home at the end with Alzheimer's.)

But, there are lots of reasons to be frugal, and I can't imagine dismissing re-using stuff for the sake of being green, either, because that's a *very* good reason to do it when you can. The notion that it might lift you out of poverty is pretty much nonsense, but with decent luck and single-payer health care it might keep you where you are, which is nothing to be sneezed at.

My nonna didn't teach me how to cook, which is a shame because my lasagna is nothing on hers even when I don't use corn dogs instead of sausage, but she did teach me how to read when just about everybody else had given up on it. Plus we like ramen noodles anyway, especially since we got the wok.

I'm just always pleased to find I have something in common with people I admire. :-)

Joyful Alternative said...

Are all Soviet Union specialists like Applebaum and Condoleezza Rice?