Saturday, October 3, 2009

3 October 1955 “Buy More Pay Less or Pay More Buy Less, a Proposed Project of Rationing”

We are so used to the phrase “Buy more Pay less” that we forget it has led to our “society of entitlement”. We feel we DESERVE to get a bargain on everything which then forces us to not shop locally and force out small business and ultimately ruin our communities.

rationing_line This image shows people waiting in a rationing line. What is odd, is I often see this in stores today, but people lined up to buy more and more of what they don’t need! I remember when the local IKEA opened, I fell into it as well. I remember standing in this long line just waiting to give up my money for things I honestly did not need. When I think of that now it almost sends a shiver down my spine. I really feel now brainwashed by the consumer culture.

ration_poster I wonder if these ideas of the wartime economy may someday be our solution to our planet and pocketbook woes?  It would seem the idea of people coming together to solve a problem as a nation is a good solution. It makes us all feel part of it. Unfortunately, those making the money from our overspending don’t want us to believe it is happening so they lie to us and use poor imagery of anti-American ways to fear us into ignoring it. And keep us from coming together by the lazy ways of staying home with tv and computers, who could ever come together as a community and try to change when we are so lulled. When, really, how un-American is it to be ruled by a dictator of consumerism and fall prey to the propaganda TV stations that perpetuate the lies? But, I don’t want to go off on that tangent right now. I think we need to really think about that basic concept of buying more paying less or buying less and paying more (which supports our local business and helps us to economize and be healthy)

I sometimes think about rural central America and feel bad that they were once thriving little communities that sent their children off to school to have them return and make their part of the world better. The young people had dances and listened to the radio and played games. There was community. Now I think of these places as sad dustbowls where the downtown is gone and empty, just outside of town is the Wal-Mart and various fast food places. The teens are ‘bored’ and doing drugs and overdrinking and can’t wait to leave or if they don’t leave, they stay in all the time on the computer or video games. How have we become this?

I am sure there are women today who were homemakers in the 1950s that are so glad to have so many things so cheap,  and to use kleenex and paper towels, but in a way, they really can’t understand where we have come and in some way, let them have it. But, for those of us who are young enough that we are making the country still and preparing new adults for the future, we have to somehow stop the idea that we need to buy more and more and it had better be cheap!

I am always amazed and appalled at the way people in lines at stores will treat the help and with their own feeling of entitlement. If  someone is trying to return something beyond the stores policy or they don’t have their receipt, they go crazy and DEMAND that they get what they want! It is not the help’s fault the person made the wrong choice, or didn’t keep or read the rules on the receipt. But, this feeling of “I want it now and I want it fast and you better treat me like a God” is such a horrible trait and path we seem to be treading down.

woman paris I remember my first day out in Paris when I was a young girl.  I was coming form the American stores that treat you, the consumer, as if you can do no wrong. Boy, that was a rude awakening! I actually felt anger and frustration, but the longer I was there I began to realize, “Why do I think I DESERVE to be treated like a queen and at the expense of the people who have to work there or the shop keepers who have to buy and stock the items?”  There should be no rudeness on either side and certainly the customer should not just walk in and expect everything to be just for them.

I see now that even back then we were being groomed to be the consumers that can only be happy at a store that can afford to stock and return without fear unlike a local store.

So, back to shopping locally.  We  go to the local chain and the meat and chips are are half of what they are at a local shop. So, we buy more, spend the same amount, overeat and have more to throw away. I think if we could look to ourselves, we new Homemakers, as those ladies did during war rationing, we could really wean ourselves of the current over consuming habit.

If we said to ourselves, “we MUST shop locally and consume less”, we could just approach it as if we were in wartime spending. So, we cannot buy as much food, well then we have to be more creative about how we use it. Learn how to stretch it. That meatloaf can become two meatloaves with some bread added as filler; those leftovers can go in the freezer or into a pot for stew. So, chips are expensive, STOP EATING THEM, they aren’t good for you anyway. I know it sounds harsh and hard, but you know what, anything worth doing often has some  struggle in it, but when you have succeeded you are happy and content and glad for the struggle. Or one bag of chips for the month, then you have to ration them out! It might sound extreme, but right now we have been taught the other extreme: that we must buy as much as we can and fill our shelves to the brim and then overeat and buy more! It is not healthy for our pocketbooks, our health, our waistlines, nor our sense of being. I don’t like to think that we are training groups of children to think they can just consume and consume for ever and ever, how will that make them understand the consequences of anything?

I was amazed the other day when I was out marketing. I saw, with the produce, these little packages of sliced apples with a little dipping sauce. I thought, “How on earth is ANYONE too busy to slice an apple and put it in Tupperware?” Here is more packaging, plus I know there was some chemical to make the apple not turn brown that we then would eat and the cost!

So, I don’t want to go on another rant without any result.  So, what say you to an experiment we can share in? Maybe we should try a week where in we ‘pretend’ it is WWII rationing and see how we fare. I think that is a safe amount of time. We would simply use only what is the very basics, no chips (crisps) nor very large helpings or seconds, maybe even scale back desserts and only what we can make with the basics, flour sugar butter (Which I know they even ran out of  during the war).

WWII canning poster What do you think, would it be a fun project? Maybe in the comments we could discuss it and set the parameters.

For instance we could say we could only use bread we made ourselves or bought at a local bakery (not a chain) and we could only buy one loaf instead of more.  So if we ran out of bread during that week we would have to use our minds to think, ‘what can we do?” I know that during this time many people turned to pancakes/flapjacks as alternatives as they were easier to make than bread and no yeast was required. SO instead of a sandwich you have a pancake with something rolled into it.  You know what I mean, be frugal and see what we could do.

We don’t have to be too extreme, but I would love to see the results, especially for those of you who have children. I think we are made to feel we are bad parents if we don’t have all of these things for our children, but the 1950s homemaker grew up in the Depression and she definitely did without during her childhood and of the childhoods I have heard recalled, so many children actually had fun growing up during those years, as they didn’t know they were poor. They only knew what they grew up with and had more imagination and patience because of it. In some way I feel like every generation we are just training ourselves to be lazier, less independent, more unhealthy etc.  But, I digress, we could make the rules however we want, but for one week, wouldn’t it be interesting? I wonder if we would learn any saving measures we could then adapt to our normal weeks and realize we don’t actually NEED the things we buy.

woman cans So, if anyone is up for the proposed week plan let me know. I think we could come up with a ‘required’ shopping list for the week. We could decide how much butter, flour, meat etc we are allowed and then we can stick to that and see how our weeks turn out. If you have children then certain things would be increased per child I would imagine. So, what do you say?rosie

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