Austerity Watch: frugal as the new cool

In: Uncategorized

15 Feb 2009

In response to my request for suggestions for my Austerity Watch column a friend sent me a link to a useful article from the 4 January edition of the British Observer newspaper. In it Paul Harris reported from New York on how luxury is increasingly being considered shameful. Among its useful points and references:

* The identification of a new cultural trend dubbed “luxury shame”.

* A column by Bob Herbert in the New York Times on 26 December 2008 headlined “Stop Being Stupid”. It concludes: “we need to start living within our means and get past the nauseating idea that the essence of our culture and the be-all and end-all of the American economy is the limitless consumption of trashy consumer goods.”

* A rash of new movies bashing bankers is coming out. On 27 February The International, starring Clive Owen, will be released in Britain. According to the summary on the Internet Movie Database: “Interpol Agent Louis Salinger and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman are determined to bring to justice one of the world’s most powerful banks. Uncovering illegal activities including money laundering, arms trading, and the destabilization of governments, Salinger and Whitman’s investigation takes them from Berlin to Milan to New York and to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as the bank will stop at nothing – even murder – to continue financing terror and war.”

Meanwhile, I have added “Austerity Watch” tags to some of my earlier blog posts. It reminded me that many of the arguments for austerity now being pitched in terms of the economic crisis were not long ago related to climate change.

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