Anne Helen Petersen is back with a longer piece about spending less during the last couple months of lockdown. She unpacks a lot in it–the economic boom of the 50s that still imforms today’s thinking, the amount of debt Americans have, how “supporting the economy” got to sound noble. Check it out: I Don’t Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore
Near the end, Petersen says this:
In this moment, the primary tension in America is how, and when, life is going to “return to normal.” But that “normal” was an economy that, even before COVID-19, was built on a form of consumption that felt compulsory, with household debt as normalized as the exploitative work conditions that make those daily consumption habits possible. A “normal” in which the vast majority of people still felt economically precarious, burned out, and swallowed by their student debt, and most still struggled to cobble together enough savings to protect them from medical or financial catastrophe. A “normal” in which the various manifestations of the gig economy—and the lack of healthcare, labor protections, or the general safety net that accompanies them—have been, well, normalized.
So what if we don’t actually want to go back to that?