The Arizona Republic ran an article on how to save money during these tough times. OK. So far, so good. But the suggestions were laughable for all but the amazingly wealthy. Arizona, at the moment, is the 5th poorest state in the union. Here are some of the suggestions—cut your housecleaning crew down to once every other week. Have your gardener come just once a month. Go out to lunch instead of the evening meal. Consider buying your own nail polish, as it saves a bit on those regular manicures and pedicures.
I’m baffled by this. If you can afford a housecleaner, gardener, eating out at all and regular manicures and pedicures, you don’t have a worry in the world.
Let’s get down to the reality portion of this economy: drug and rehab budgets are being cut, so is health care for children, food prices are not coming down, and gas prices are inching up again. Once a month in our town, we have big trash pickup. People haul those bulky items that don’t fit in the standard trash can to the curb, and a special truck and frontloader scoop them away. For the last two months, I’ve watched pickup trucks cruising through neighborhoods scavenging those piles of trash.
By the time the frontloader shows up, the piles are reduced to yard trimmings. Even those are picked over for left-over citrus fruit. Anything metal or repairable has been loaded into trucks. I don’t think these people are worried about their housecleaning schedule.
This past Sunday, the New York Times ran an article on how the economy provides a handy excuse for laying off that pesky maid who dared to ask for New Year’s Eve off. Or to blow off your bourgeois in-laws’ invitation to Disney World, presumably because you can’t afford it, when in reality you prefer Europe to Florida. The article was written in a surprisingly shallow “let them eat cake” tone.
Where is the editor who should have spiked this story? Where is the managing editor, who, having seen a story written in a similar tone the week before, should be ashamed he let that one get in instead of adding another one to the pile?
This economy is dividing us into the have and have-nots. There is no middle class. There are the working poor and the incredibly rich. The New York Times, a respectable newspaper of honored heritage is behaving in a way that shows a shocking disregard for the people who are trying to live normal lives and navigate their way through a recession without maids or pedicures. The rich will muddle through, let’s see some help for the rest of us.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach who runs training programs on communicating with others.