By: Revanche

Radio Commercials: All about the money

March 25, 2008

Driving to the bank and to the mall after work yesterday, I actually listened to the commercials on the radio instead of tuning them out as usual. This might have been because the Hyundai commercial unexpectedly had a cameo by Larry Winget, and inadvertently, highlighted my ambivalence about the state of our economy.

The commercial went something like this:

Narrator kid: I could save all sorts of money buying a Hyundai! I could use that money and buy a trampoline! Or a [something else ridiculous that I’ve forgotten].
Larry Winget: That’d be stupid. You should use that money to pay down your debt, or save.
Narrator kid: Aw. That’s true, but it’s not nearly as fun as my ideas.
Voiceover: Voices in your head might sound something like Larry Winget, author of You’re Broke Because You Want To Be, and with the special Hyundai sales event, you can actually have a choice of what to do with the money you’ve saved!

That commercial was quickly followed up by an ad for another spend to save shill. Of course all radio commercials are selling something, but it was ironic that they are also reflective of our nationwide dichotomous dialogue about the economy and how to cure what ails us:

Spend! We’re facing a recession, so we need to spend our way out of it
But Save! The cost of living has skyrocketed, and don’t have money for luxuries. People’ll really get in trouble if they lose their jobs!
But, spend! So we’ll give them a fat check, and they should spend it so people can keep their jobs, and the economy can grow again!
But no, save! Because we have a negative savings rate, and that’s very bad!

Ugh, no wonder our economic policy seems to be all over the map. Giving out money, spending $42 million to tell us all about it, watching the subprime market go nuts and then bailing them out, dropping the interest rates which feels like punishment for us savers. I know that I’ve got a fairly tenuous grasp of economics in general, and I’m reacting emotionally, but seriously, it seems like there is an awful lot of flailing about in trying to fix what’s broken, and I have to wonder how much of that is an inability to identify the problems, and a moderate, reasonable course of action.

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