Listening to the radio and reading the news. I keep having these unanswered questions run into my head. I’m gonna put this out there in the hopes that I won’t look too incredibly ignorant or short-sighted, or unimaginative.
The Big Three American Auto makers see their sales numbers drop so much that they’re facing total collapse. Actually all the car makers are seeing their sales numbers drop. But here’s the thing. Lots of families have enough cars. Cars are running reliably longer. Some families have extra cars. I’d like a new car, but I don’t need one. So I’m not going to buy one. If the cars last longer, maybe everybody who needs a car has one already, or can buy a used one. Maybe the number of new cars sold just can’t keep going up for ever. Or is that crazy talk?
And sales of electronics and gadgets, they’re in a slump as well. Could it be that everyone already has enough TVs? And is it a tragedy if a company sells the same amount as they did the same time last year? I mean to ask isn’t it good enough for a company, say… Target, to sell groceries and sell soap and sell toys, just enough to pay the salaries and wages of their employees and provide a service to the community, maybe give a chunk to charity. Why is it such a disaster for them to just break even and cover expenses from year to year?
New home sales are down. Existing home sales are down. Do they have to keep going up every year? My house is 117 years old. It’s drafty, but it’s beautiful and decent shelter. New houses are being built, but most of the old ones aren’t getting torn down. So maybe we have enough houses for a while. There’s no new land being generated, so this is a no-brainer for an industry that can’t keep growing every year.
Maybe our population is growing enough that we need an increase in new home sales every year, but as near as I can tell (as evidenced by the two vacant houses on our block) we have enough houses. I haven’t done the math… But is our population increasing enough to support an increase in new homes every year forever?
And finally, can someone explain to me where all the money went? That theoretical money I had when my house was worth $500k? Did it exist? And if it did, where did it go? If it didn’t exist, are we just starting to figure out that an immense percentage of the American economy was imaginary?
If you can help me with these puzzles, be gentle. I’m not dense in every way. Just a few.