The Challenge of Consumerism

Now that the financial system seems to be re-shaping and reforming, what can that mean to us, the little guys. Most of us have had it pretty good these last years without much financial pain and certainly not lacking in needs or wants. There is a growing voice that the economy’s future will be decided by what the consumer (you and me) will be doing. Will this insatiable need to buy more and buy often be limited? Will we truly be able to live within our means and keep our minds on purchases that are needed and not wanted. I would hazard a guess here. If anyone of us was to move tomorrow we would find our household absolutely full of stuff that is no longer needed or wanted. Just plain stuff.

We are creatures of habit and not easily changed. Some habits will not change until they become life threatening. I wouldn’t suggest that this day and age is life threatening but when you expect a lot of rain you usually make sure the roof isn’t leaking.

Last month when we were down on Commercial Drive we went into a shop that sold 3rd world items. At the back in a pile of a number of books we found an updated version of a cookbook called “More-with-Less” by Doris Longacre. We had originally purchased this cookbook back in 1976 and could use a new copy to replace our current copy which was falling apart. Here is part of the foreword to this newer edition:

When More-with-Less Cookbook was first published in 1976, Doris Longacre wrote of world shortages of food and of North Americans consuming too much of the world’s resources – money, calories, protein, sugar and processed food. We have not learned.

She is right – we have not learned. Will we have to take another 30 years to learn or are we going to really do something different this time? The problem is that we don’t know anything different. These are the economic cycles that will always exist.

Sick at home

I would like to thank some of the people I work with for passing on this flu/cold bug. It is such a delight to be bed ridden, hacking your lungs out, bored to tears.

It isn’t so much that you don’t feel well. It is the boredom that sets in when you can’t do anything. The medication seems to help but I think it works more from that resounding memory from your childhood when your mother said, “take your medicine and you will feel better”. As a child you believed your mother, as an adult you believe the memory. Another benefit of marrying a nurse is the wonderful care you get as a patient. It sometimes is worse than your mother. I keep hearing this voice that men are such babies when they are sick. No we aren’t babies, we are just plain sick. We don’t go to doctors and when sickness appears it is big and it is real. There is going to be some feedback from the family on this one.

Yesterday was CU Day and from the emails just read it was a resounding success, again. Probably about 10% of the membership showed up. Nala and her daughter from Currency were there. Sorry I missed everyone. Now its back to bed with my apple juice, kleenex and radio. I gotta get better because this boredom is killing me.

Whew! it’s over

I just finnished my 1 hour presentation at the 2008 National CU Lending Conference in St. John’s Newfoundland. It went well and of course you think you need to add more to your presentation until you realize you have 10 minutes left to cover about 20 minutes of material. The crowd was friendly.

It has been very enjoyable to be here. I hadn’t realized the history of this city, the beauty of the rugged terrain and the most amazing people on earth, Newfoundlanders. And you don’t have to go very far to be close to salt water. This is the kind of place that you will always want to return to.

Tomorrow it is back to the other side of the continent. I have been away for a week now living in hotel rooms and eating restaurant food. This may be exciting to the younger crowd but traveling is somehow loosing its glitter. I feel very honoured to have been chosen to speak at two conferences and meet people from both the American and Canadian credit union movements. It seems everyone has the same opinion about what is happening in the financial markets. Credit union will be ok and we don’t have to worry. That opinion was voiced by everyone. It does feel good to be part of a movement that did not contribute to this financial meltdown, that there is integrity in what we have done and what we continue to do. And with a growing number of younger people getting involved it can only get better.