Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Like a parched man in the desert crawling towards anticipated
water in the oasis on the horizon, Americans have been crawling,
no running, towards the oasis of a perceived good life, stopping
at the bank to mortgage their futures, without examining
the consequences down the road. The consequences are downturn
and recession, even in the book business.

I believe we are in a recession now. Seventy percent of our economy
is fueled by consumer spending. Consumers have already slowed down
in their spending for plastic products such as toys made in China.
Housing starts have tumbled meaning there is less of a market for
pressboard walls and plastic molding made in China. Auto sales
are tumbling, Ford is now the number three car seller in this
country behind GM and Toyota. So there is less of a demand for
plastic dashboards and bumpers made in China.

Plastic products on their own have contributed to our recession
because they're so inexpensive. They have driven manufacturers out
of business that use wood (toys),real metal (cars, appliances), etc.
And the plastic credit card enabled Americans to run toward that
mirage of the good life on the horizon.

Americans feel "entitled" to that good life, even young people
in their twenties. They will not wait and build for that life like
their parents and grandparents did.

Americans did not foresee that rising prosperity in Asia would
create Asian consumers that now compete for that good life and
the oil, gasoline and plastic back scratchers that that good life
needs. We didn't foresee that because we know nothing about the rest
of the world. But we do know that Heath Ledger died yesterday and
a promising young actor's life has been snuffed out. Or that Britany
Spears showed up, actually showed up, in family court today to take
part in the proceedings concerning custody of her children. She
actually didn't stay for the proceeding but we know that she was
wearing bright, red lipstick and a very short skirt. That is all
we care about.

We don't care that electric power in Allahabad, India, a city of
a million people,is shut off every day, every day, from 10 am to
2 pm. All we care about is getting ours and we mortgaged our futures
to get it, the elusive, plastic it. Unless we change our ways,
the millions in Allahabad and all Asia will become more prosperous
than us and have that good life that we aren't willing to work for.

I just pulled a 1970 hardback book off my shelves. Titled How
You Can Profit
from the Coming Devaluation, it's by Harry Browne.
Of course it's too late. The dollar has been losing value for a
long time. But maybe,just maybe, it might offer some suggestions
about what to do. I'll let you know. Meanwhile, since American goods
are so cheap overseas, maybe I should be looking at foreign markets
for Southfarm Press books.
--Copyright 2008 by Walter Haan,


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