Friday, December 12, 2008

We hope for better things--like bargins on designer handbags!

Has anyone noticed the recent spate of recession-themed articles in the "lifestyle" sections of the New York Times? I can't stop reading them--they're so adorably out of touch!

A story from the Home and Garden section covers (in great detail) the impact of rich New Yorkers firing their domestic help. On the global economy, that is. One employer expressed concern about her housekeeper's financial obligations, and said that she felt guilty for firing her: "It was really hard."

An article entitled "The Great Sale of ’08," simply gushes over the bargains that local department stores are putting up to entice shoppers. And who could resist such deals--$275 for a pair of Prada shoes! (My heart goes pitta pat!)

And then there are those poor people who can't shop the way they'd like, because they feel like it might be in bad taste. Good thing they've found a way to get around that problem--designer parties!

But my favorite are the "belt tightening" stories. The titles say it all.

Great Meals for Two, Under $100 (It’s Possible!)

Time to Tighten Things Up: Energy Saving Tips for Your Second Home

This is obviously hilarious, but also a little bizarre. The front section of the New York Times is full of news about the recession. Over half a million people lost their jobs in November--the largest job loss since 1974--and though it doesn't seem possible, the actual impact is probably much greater. Meanwhile, the "lifestyle" sections are whinging about the price of bluefin tuna and airline tickets.

(It's especially weird when veiwed from the perspective of suburban Detroit. Detroit used to rank 4th in population, but now hovers around 11th, having lost half of it's population since 1950. It is a city so utterly destroyed, that large parts of it are returning to the prairie* and the half mile area between the Detroit Institute of Art and downtown is known as a "Dead Zone". I mean, Detroit's city motto is "Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus," which is Latin for (I shit you not) "We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes.")

On a more personal level, it would be nice to read a "lifestyle" column and find some advice that I could actually use this year. Maybe an article about handmade Christmas gifts? Or kitchen gardens? Or the reuse/renew movement? Or...something?

*If you like the blog entry I linked to, you should click here to see more of Sweet Juniper's lovely photos of Detroit. He's one of my favorite photographers.


Less Than a Shoestring said...

I sooooooo hear you on this -- one of my biggest complaints about the Times, actually.

I also laughed at the $100 meal article title. Read one article a couple weeks ago about outlet shopping experiences at 5 different malls near the city (as if outlet shopping and not, I don't know, actually reducing consumption might solve something). Read another about how mothers were forgoing their wants (like *designer jeans*) to buy toys for their kids this holiday season. Same goes for the travel section, where $500 qualifies as a 2-day "budget" vacation for one, not including airfare.

But on another level, if even *rich* people have to cut back, we are in real trouble, right?

BTW, did you read that article floating around plans about the surrogate pregnancy? Another one where I shake my head and think, "Who ARE these people?" Probably my solid midwestern stock talking . . .

If you want down-to-earth advice, beyond general personal finance blogs you probably already read, try Frugal Hacks or Wise Bread.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love the lifestyles section - I can never quite figure out if they're being tongue-in-cheek or if they really think this is what most of their readers find helpful (the "Vows" section is also good for a lot of that sort of amusement). To be fair, the NYT *does* have a substantial readership for whom this sort of thing is really relevant, but on the other hand, it's sold all over the country - you'd think they could throw the people without second homes or "bargain" $80 alarm clocks a bone now and then.

Hilary, I saw that "moms are sacrificing their wants" article as well and was boggled by the quote about how she'd like her daughter to look back and say "Even though times were hard, my mom could still give me stuff." I was wondering for a moment if the NYT had been hiring from the Onion staff.

The surrogate pregnancy article ... well, I have to say that I've done infertility treatment myself and in that regard I felt for the woman because it is really, really hard, even if you have no financial worries about it. But she was just so obnoxious - along the lines of "I'm being honest, so that means I can say whatever the hell I want about anyone in a national newspaper and not be called out on it" that I kept wanting her to change her mind and just let the surrogate keep the baby.

jdg said...

Thanks for this post. I couldn't agree more.