Consumers of the Month: Greenspan Urges Public to Spend More, Save Less

In an effort to improve the sluggish economy, the Federal Reserve Board has announced the first in an expected series of incentives designed to boost consumer spending.

Starting next month, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will award "Consumer of the Month" medals to citizens who demonstrate patriotism by continuing to spend lavishly -- despite warnings about market downturns and fears of unemployment. Blowing an entire paycheck on superfluous items beyond one's means will especially be encouraged.

"Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all economic activity, and, unfortunately, folks have really been tightening their belts over the last few months. If they keep that up, the economy is bound to slip into reverse in the current quarter," Greenspan said during a press conference held at Nora's, an expensive Washington restaurant (reporters were encouraged to splurge for the price fix five-course dinner).

"People like contests. They like awards. And, deep down, they like to spend money. A slide in the stock market, steady unemployment and worries about the economy are all factors that make people feel less inclined to spend, but I think folks just needs a little bit of encouragement," he added. "I am confident that the American public will love this."

"Consumer of the Month" medals will be presented with great fanfare. Greenspan said each award ceremony would be followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and a formal ball. Nominations will be accepted from credit card companies and other financial institutions. Consumers can also enter on their own: Contest entries can be downloaded at www.spendmoresaveless.com or www.ispentmorethanyou.com. Receipts of purchases must accompany each entry.

President Bush praised the Greenspan plan, calling it "a good idea." He said that the White House staff would do its part: The president, who is known for mandating a dress code among his staffers, said those who work in the White House will no longer be allowed to wear the same suit or dress more than once.

A bi-partisan group of economic advisers issued a statement supporting the spending spree and said it might turn out to be "one of the most successful campaigns to build consumer confidence" since scheduling Thanksgiving and Christmas 29 days apart.

"We don't foresee any problem convincing Americans to purchase items they don't really need," the advisers said.

The first crop of winners includes:

Suzanna Klinger (San Jose, Calif.) for her fearless purchase of two venti lattes from Starbucks the same week she received a pink slip from her job.

Ann Hathaway (Austin, Texas) for buying three DVDs from amazon.com in four days and opting to have each shipped separately via overnight express mail.

Kathleen C. Millard (Port St Lucie, Fla.) for buying a cashmere/wool blend coat from Dillards despite the fact she lives in a region where temperature rarely dip below 50. "You never know when you want to go north to visit the kids," she said.

Carol Myles (Evansville, Ill.) for buying a $2.25 bottle of Poland Spring at the overpriced deli across the street from her office every day for a month when she could have kept refilling the 1.5-liter bottle on her desk.

Eileen Sasso (Cleveland) for abandoning her 30-year-old habit of purchasing silverware at garage sales one piece at a time. Instead, Sasso opted to spring for two eight-person cutlery sets at TJ MAXX -- a total of $70 -- for her 26-year-old son's new apartment.

Jeff Zalig (Chicago) for deciding to purchase a new SUV because the cup holders in his 6-month-old Toyota RAV are too small to hold a Big Gulp.

Alison Dennis (New York, N.Y.) for frequenting expensive bars and restaurants in recent weeks and switching her favorite drink from domestic beer to the "Snickertini," a blend of several liquers and vanilla ice cream, going for $12.95 a pop. Dennis has also been known to say, "This round's on me."

Ian Bierson (London) who, despite the fact he is a foreigner, got into the spirit by purchasing a $2 pack of gum, a $3 16-ounce coke, and a $7 pack of Camel Lights from Hudson News at the Newark Airport.

Sean Galliano (Brooklyn, N.Y.) for "sparing no expense" on his brand new sofa from Macy's. Galliano garnered extra points for purchasing a new studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights despite layoff rumors at his dotcom.

Lisa Tozzi's satire originally appears on PopPolitics.com.

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