Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Recession (Yeah, I said it)

I was struck dumb in the car today while I was heading off to meet Karthika for dinner for the last time before she heads off to her conference in Denmark (you best be bloggin' from there, lady!) when I heard the NPR commentators still debating whether or not we're in a recession.

Let me help, guys. We're in a recession.

Hell, I'm worried that we might heading for a depression.

I've just got a few thoughts on how to survive this. I am most likely preaching to the converted, but let's just talk.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped in to visit the ladies I worked with all summer at BUST. I talked to one of the publishers about what we do to save money. And she noted that every little thing we cut hurts someone.

I'm living on graduate assistant salary and a bit of freelance money right now, so I'm used to being broke. But there are certain things that I will not cut out of my budget.

I will not stop buying comics. Because creative people are often the first ones to be cut loose in this kind of crisis. And let's face it, Hollywood will survive if I don't buy the Dark Knight DVD the first day it comes out. But Air may not be around next month if I don't buy it now. I've already seen the Minx label die and people I care about lose a source of income, and so I will keep buying. Not to mention, comic shops are one of the few small businesses that still exist and haven't been sent to the edge of extinction by superstores.

On the same token, I'll keep getting my magazines. I'll subscribe to things I tend to buy off the newsstand, since it both saves money for me AND puts the money straight into the pockets of the magazines trying to stay alive. Particularly small ones like my beloved BUST and BITCH, which we already saved once this year, and Mother Jones and The Nation.

I will buy my clothes from the local boutiques, even if it's off the sales racks, rather than from H&M and Target, even though those are cheaper. Because the people, often women, who run the local shops, are dependent on these shops for their living, and because those people are the same ones who keep vibrant local communities alive.

I will try to buy groceries from small locally-owned stores as well. Same reasons.

I will buy books, when possible, from local used bookstores rather than from I can still get reading material cheap, and it'll be helping yet another local business stay alive.

I will not spend money on overpriced coffee-type things from Starbucks. If I need to drop $5 on a chai, I'll go again to the local chain.

I know none of this is rocket science, but I think it's important to think about it in the times when we're pinching pennies and trying to save because we don't know what the world is going to look like.

I ran a small bicycle shop for years and my parents still make their living from it. It's their only source of income, and it has been directly affected by companies like Schwinn deciding to sell bikes to Target and Wal-Mart. With the economy suffering, fewer people are going on vacation and renting bikes, and if people decide to buy from Wal-Mart instead of my mom and dad, they won't be able to cough up the $40,000 a year they pay for health insurance.

Yes, real people work in H&M and McDonald's and Starbucks and they need their money too. But we can think about where to spend our money and the things we really don't need. It's worth it to me, especially now, to spend a few more dollars to help people get through this mess.