Saturday, January 17, 2009

Later, Jeeves

Americans have always been a little uneasy about the idea of having servants. So we've outsourced the labor to an army of helpers--caterers, pet groomers, housekeepers, daycare workers, cooks, maintenance people, etc.

That may be changing.

Now that many of us are a bit strapped for cash, we've started doing more of the jobs we've paid others to do ourselves. The New York Times reports that it's hurting small business people--and that's true--but it also may represent a good thing. Recession or no recession, we're probably entering a time when our economy--and our earth--won't be able to generate enough of a surplus to let us all live like little kings. Like it or not, we're going to have to learn to do more for ourselves.

And that has other benefits as well. Namely, our roles will become less specialized, which will make our society more resilient in the face of a crisis. The economic downturn has shown that big changes can occur very quickly. The more Americans who have the skills to take care of themselves, the better. Plus, learning how to cook and share a meal with family, grow some of our own food, and fix things around the house, for instance, can produce their own feelings of satisfaction.

Target has actually launched a new ad campaign about this:

An even better scenario is that people use all the stuff they already own to enjoy themselves instead of going out and buying more.


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