American Consequences - December 2017

Maybe they’re checking the news. Presumably the people who run the news – online, print, TV, and radio – present it the way consumers want it. Therefore, a significant American consumer trend is a bull (not to say bullshit) market in shallow, sensationalist, and often erroneous news stories. All these stories are terrifying – by intent. “If it bleeds it leads,” is a news business maxim. You’ll never see a headline about how good things are. Especially not involving President Donald Trump. His ability to grab the public’s attention irks the news business, which thinks it should have a monopoly on grabbing the public. (Per Matt Lauer.) Thus, if Trump cured cancer, the headlines would read, “Heart Disease Kills More People.” We don’t have to look far to see something else being consumed in enormous quantities... drugs. Marijuana has been legalized all over the place, as is evident in the vacant stares of millennials as they try to remember what the bike rack is for. Emergency rooms are filled with unemployed, former blue-collar workers using opioids to get happy, then desperate, then dead, then resurrected with Narcan, then happy again. antidepressant. Nobody beats on the copier anymore when there’s a paper jam. People just give the copy machine a sad smile of and ask it, “Would you like to talk?” Traffic is terrible, airports are packed, and so is mass transit. “Transportation” is obviously a fast-growing segment of consumption. To be a white-collar worker is, almost by definition, to be on some kind of

But not transportation to the office. More and more employees are working from home. Yet, walk down the street in your neighborhood knocking on doors. Nobody’s at home. Brick and mortar stores claim crowds are thin. Schools say truancy is up. Where are all the people going? To judge by the stalled cars, canceled flights, and broken-down subway cars – nowhere soon. By considering the current American decibel level, body mass index, sartorial appearance, Internet connectivity, high anxiety, chemical ingestion, and traffic jams, we see a clear pattern of consumer trends. What Americans are buying is noise, fat, naked shame, loneliness, fear, stupor, and futile attempts to escape from consumer society.

Hank Blaustein | © 2017 Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. Used by permission.

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