Prepare for Affluence Deprivation

Posted on: Saturday, November 22nd, 2008
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment

Here’s a book recommendation—for anyone who can handle relatively scholarly tomes.

It’s “The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence,” by Robert J. Samuelson. He’s out promoting it now, so you may hear him on a radio, TV, or podcast near you.

Although the book is mostly about a past period (’62 – ’82), Samuelson has plenty to say about today’s conditions. Mostly not good. The stock market and housing booms that made us “rich” for so long are over. So over. Prepare thyself for…

Affluence deprivation. That’s one of his million-dollar idioms, although with the downturn in the economy such as it is, perhaps it’s now worth only half that.

Affluence deprivation is what we are about to encounter—when people gradually “have” less, and it hurts. His point is: We still probably have enough, and perhaps more than most of the world and than most points in American history.

But…we’ll feel deprived. We’ll talk poor. (“Poor talk” is another old cliché’; it’s when people talked poor for decades long after the Depression was over and times were relatively great.)

We’ll soon talk about “back in the day,” when we drove SUVs to expensive eateries and drank pink martinis while wearing Sex-in-the-City designer duds. We’ll lament that we no longer fly to Vegas for suites, shows, Gray Goose, and craps.

Don’t let this era be a dud. Speak not of depraved deprivation. We’ll be fine. In many ways, we’re no less rich with time than we were when our portfolios were fat, dumb, and happy. Keep hacking away at your dreams and Big Ideas. And BreakAway from the poor-tawkin’ crowd…

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