Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

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She also responded to questions from members of the audience at the Newton Free Library on Thursday, October 15, , at p. She is a correspondent for dozens of national publications including Time and Atlantic Monthly.

Cheap : the high cost of discount culture

Annie Leonard argues that health hazards, environmental damage and social injustice all result from the American…. Ellen Schultz argued that many large employers have plundered employee pension plans over the past decades and detailed some…. Request Download. It was the place where everybody went, largely because it had more space than the other bodegas and the prices were cheaper.

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What does it say about our reliance on discount culture when a man will enter into default because the customer is always right, even when he insists on an unsustainable price in an unsustainable economy? The examples and case studies range from compelling anecdotes to something less.

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But if the intention was to blind us with science — well, no dice. This will no doubt be viewed as simplistic. As far as I have read, I suppose the history of retailing does provides revelations but the conclusion I am heading toward is that, when retailing moved to large and then gigantic organizations, shopping became an adversarial contest in which consumers were bound to lose.

I think Ruppel Shell is trying to get at more than wasting time. Big corporations have easier access to money. The corporations can get bigger loans, at lower rates, than the little guys. They can also afford big-time lobbyists, and there are any number of instances where lobbyists go back and forth between their lobbying jobs and the industries they were lobbying for.

Government is, in many crucial ways, out of our hands at this point. But what remains very much in our hands is our own buying habits.

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I think it deflects attention and analysis from the larger and more systemic causes of trash. But in this case, I think Ruppel Shell does a good job tallying the problems on both sides of this tricky equation. There is something that the individual needs to do here. Decent-paying, somewhat-meaningful labor, with local, community-based commerce, is more affordable than the behemoth we have now. She does mention it, but I think it needed a little more ink. My main qualm with this book was its overreliance on very similar studies by all these B school profs. They are not the B-all and end-all!

Had she not felt the need to underline every claim with a study as a sort of preemptive strike, Ruppel Shell would have had more pages to draw out the final links in the chain a little more strongly. There is a tendency to focus on homo economics when talking about the economy, that comes from both the right and left, that we need to guard against. But are you really getting a good deal? Personally, I grew up on cheap culture out of necessity. Overall, I thought Cheap was fascinating. The book provides readers with much food for thought.

The startling free pass that Amazon receives from Ruppel Shell, despite Amazon being a corporation currently profiting from the economic collapse like no other and raking in ludicrous profits that look a good deal like blood to me. She mentions Amazon once when she talks about unfair pricing models, and, once again later, when she refers back to that passage. Evidently, Amazon got caught charging the old customers more than the new ones. Jjust like a drug dealer. Ruppel Shell knows for a fact that her audience consumes the commodity of books. Questions abound.

Lining their jackets?

Ellen Ruppel Shell’s CHEAP — Part One – Reluctant Habits

Are they also wearing Hamburglar masks? What questions did he ask? Were the college students paid after they came? Can I do this experiment? Or do I need a degree? Louis combined. Trucking the stuff off is impractical. One alternative popular among big companies is to spray liquefied manure into the air and let it fall where it may, coating trees and anything else that happens to be in its path.

I agree with much of what Miracle said. If anything, I thought Ruppel Shell was too soft on the consumer. The book is a dense brew of numbers and statistics, but it mostly served to prove what I already knew: that the American dream has rotted to its core. We rack our brains trying to think of gifts for our loved ones because they already have everything they want or need.

People who amass the most junk are the ones filling emotional and intellectual voids. The happier and more balanced people are, the less likely they are to rely on mountains of things. Sure, everybody wants to do right by their dollars. Watch how they tip the waiter. Why does Ruppel Shell include this description? This sort of commentary is particularly off-putting when just a few pages later, Ruppel Shell fawns over Prof.

The other day, I saw a woman with four small children foraging through a Goodwill drop box. She was pulling out clothes and putting them on the kids, who soon all had on multiple shirts and sweaters in the summer heat. Welcome to the cheapest shopping spree of them all.

'Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture'

But I got the distinct feeling that this woman was no bargain hunter. This was a woman doing what she had to do. Although I understand and appreciate all the studies and arguments in Cheap , I wonder how much that woman would care about any of them. An American dream once fueled by ideas and entrepreneurship has been reduced to laying off workers and reducing risk.

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