Costco Stupidity


Do we really want to default into a future that delivers 30 square feet of retail space per capita?  How about 40?  Does a shopper in the US really need more than six times as much retail shopping space as someone in Europe?  How much is ‘too much?’

The heroic efforts to sustain that way of life could well have something to do with the fact that so many people have a sinking feeling in their stomachs that we are on the wrong track.

The challenge at any great turning point in history is recognizing that the landscape has fundamentally shifted.  For my part, I am so certain that the Aughts [2000-2009] cannot be recreated in letter or spirit that I am not at all interested in playing the stock market or fiddling around with bond funds, both of which are trading at levels that explicitly assume the Aughts are coming back.

They are not.

It’s a different future that awaits.  Not necessarily worse, but certainly involving a whole lot less stuff bought on credit.  Some will interpret this as a distressing decline in living standards, but for those who can shift their perception, this will be an exciting time of transformation from a culture of consumption to something far more satisfying and lasting.


Yes, of course.–But “those of us” can afford to “shift [our] perception.”–We need to work for the unemployed and unemployable, for whom “a culture of consumption” isn’t even a nighmare.

Ya know what? The unemployed and unemployable get ripped off in these places just like the rest of us. They buy things they don’t need, that don’t work, and that don’t last just because they’re “cheap”. And often enough, as Mike Shuman points out at the beginning of Small Mart Revolution, they’re not even cheaper than what can be bought locally.

So let’s not surrender the argument to those who insist that “the consumer wins” at the big boxes. The consumer, rich or poor, loses when we come to depend on a sourcing system that puts us all at the mercy of the fluctuating dollar, China, and the availability of cheap oil to get our cheap plastic junk from one end of the world to the other.