Today I read that 70% of the U.S. economy is fueled by consumers. One article said 72%. It is similar in Great Britain and contrasted by 10% in India and Russia and 12% in China. It is the reason the government encourages Americans to shop, if we stop then the economy will stall in a big way. The other way to keep it going is to raise prices on things that everyone buys, like fuel and food. Seems like a crazy merry go round to me. Yet it poses an interesting question to imagine a way out, a way to step off the carousel. Take my plan for instance; in order for me to implement it I have to sell a home for hundreds of thousands of dollars to some savvy (and lucky) consumer. Then I have to spend money on a vehicle (with a V8 and a kick ass tow package) to haul my little gypsy wagon around. All along my travels I won't be spending money on housing (34% of what Americans spend their paychecks on) but will definitely consume fuel and tires and food. I'll have to keep paying for insurance as well, on the vehicle, the trailer, my life, my health, my teeth, my vision. (I have a lot to say about the cost of medical insurance and how the government cherry picks scientific studies to support its own need for us to continue consuming medical care at unprecedented rates but I'll save that for another day). I'll need a telephone and an internet connection for my laptop (if I am to share about my adventure). Makes me feel like it isn't such a big deal to do what I plan on. I realize that my friends who left for the Possibility Alliance in Missouri where they don't use fossil fuels in any form, no vehicles, no electricity, etc. are the ones who have really stepped off the carousel. Yet, I'm not the least bit interested in choosing to live without fossil fuels or electricity or the internet any more than I'm willing to limit my possessions to 50 or 100. I have plenty of friends who aren't the least bit interested in decreasing the amount they consume and honestly admit they love to spend money. (And if you are a big consumer but you focus mainly on ecologically responsible, organic, fair trade, etc. items does it really make a difference or is that all just some sort of justification for over consuming?) Hey, I like to spend money as much as the next guy, I'm just not as interested in trading my life energy for it as I am in spending it on other pursuits. If I had a lot of money in the form of a sweet trust fund or stock dividends who knows what I'd do, that would provide a totally different perspective. I have always equated money with work because that is the only way I've ever gotten any. I suppose it is all a matter of degrees and that what is the most important aspect for me is the intention to spread joy and live more lightly, to be free for a while from the chattel of normal American life. My goal is to design a life that requires way less money so I can spend way less time trying to earn it and way more time on the things I love to do in the company of the people I love. Those things I'll accomplish. Where I'll come out on the other side is anybody's guess.
Tonight's five items into the big red bin are:
1. A silicone mold for making ice cubes in the shape of puzzle pieces (ask me if there has ever been a single ice cube made in the silly thing...go ahead and ask me)
2. Another on in the shape of little bottles
3. An "emergency" charger for your iPod. (Really? An iPod emergency?) This is new in an unopened package.
4. A very pretty little angel ornament
5. A big (48" square) black fabric with a peace sign silk screened on it