24 February 2009

The American Nightmare

"The European stereotype is that Americans are greedy; older Americans stereotype younger ones as a mercenary generation out to get rich quick. What neither the Europeans nor the senior citizens understand is that young Americans want more money because they need more money. Even if they don't covet mansions or luxury cars, they need big bucks for housing, health care, and education. In the 1980s, young people sold out to enjoy a life of luxury; now they sell out to stay afloat.


A whole slew of retailers have grown wildly successful by noticing what mainstream economists and pundits have missed: although education and income often track together, for a whole class of people they don't. This class's incomes are usually lower than their education levels would suggest because their values lead them toward public interest work or creative pursuits. Seeking high-brow goods at modest prices, they furnish their homes at Ikea, feed their familes at Trader Joe's, and buy everything else they need at Target.
-The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America-