Monday, January 14, 2013

weekend radio

Okay. Sometimes I like to listen to some talk shows on the radio. (Not Limbaugh, not the more screechy ones). But I'm usually not home for them. And on the weekend, the radio shows kind of suck. They're essentially infomercials for (a) a home-repair place, (b) a financial planner, or (c) a quacky doctor sort of person.

The financial people are generally the least annoying so sometimes I put them on as background noise. But one of the people was kind of making me go, "Wait, what?" She was talking about how poor the economy was, about how small businesses were suffering, and then in the next breath, told people they needed to "economize" - "Don't buy the fancy coffee drinks" was what she said.

Um, okay. So small businesses are hurting and are closing up, but we're not supposed to spend any money at them, because it's frivolous?

This is what drives me so bonkers about the "new normal." We're still being told to be in 100% austerity mode, and then people wonder why small businesses are hurting.

And okay, I get that there are probably some people who NEED to be in austerity mode, who are really hurting for money or are deep in debt. But I'm doing okay. And going too long without any fun or any pleasure is bad for a person, I'm inclined to think.

And I admit, sometimes I worry that given the generally unfriendly climate for smaller businesses, we're going to wake up some day and find that our options have reduced to Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and McDonald's. And while I don't really have anything against those businesses (well, I kind of do against Best Buy, because their customer service is for crap), sometimes you want something a little less cookie cutter.

My little town has changed greatly in the dozen or so years I've lived here. The downtown has gone from being an abandoned-looking mass of empty storefronts to a bunch of businesses that seem to be doing OK. There's a very nice gift shop that also has a tearoom. There's a children's clothing store. There's a fancy women's clothing store. There's a boot and tack shop. There's a nice restaurant that is open in the evenings, too (it used to be everything that was downtown closed up at 5). There's a quilt shop. (That last one is VERY important to me.) I think they do okay because we are kind of in the middle of nowhere - for some of those types of shops, the next nearest one is an hour's round trip or more away. And there is a casino in town that draws in people, and I could see the people who are dragged to the casino but would rather not gamble finding their way to the downtown to shop.

And I'd hate to see that change. I'd hate to see it go back to how it was when I first moved here, when everyone drove the hour's round trip for even smallish stuff, and I found myself ordering more and more stuff online.

I guess, as I said, the small businesses are doing okay. I went to the quilt shop Saturday - it was a raw chilly day and there were still five or six people shopping in there, one of them buying many yards of fabric for a quilt. And they seem to fill up the classes they offer. But I know it could be otherwise and I hope and pray that it does not become so.

I guess in general what makes me crazy about all the "don't buy fancy coffee drinks" or the "feed the pig" PSAs (did you know, paying your bills on time helps your credit score? No s***, Sherlock), or also the new PSAs telling parents to get their kids to brush their teeth for 2 minutes a day - as a responsible person, I find I feel like I'm being nagged at or nannied at. I know those PSAs are not directed at me - but the thing is, they are all about stuff I ALREADY KNEW. Stuff I thought any reasonable person knew. But I guess I was wrong on that.

And I wonder: do the people who "need" to hear those PSAs - the people who are deeply in debt and don't care, or the people who think it's a-ok to always pay their bills late, or the people who don't push their kids to practice oral hygiene - are they going to be persuaded by the PSAs? Because if not, they're a waste of money (taxpayer money, in some cases) and an annoyance to those of us who are being so responsible already. (Being so responsible it damn near kills us, or so I feel some days).

I don't know. I guess it's a good thing breathing is automatic or we'd probably get PSAs reminding us of that.

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