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The Overspent American: Why We Want What We…
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The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Juliet B. Schor

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380428,382 (3.75)3
Member:joeeasterly
Title:The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need
Authors:Juliet B. Schor
Info:Harper Perennial (1999), Paperback, 253 pages
Collections:Business, Management, & Finance, Culture, Politics, and Society
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Tags:economics

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The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need by Juliet B. Schor (1998)

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Juliet Schor is witty and compelling, as always, in her exploration of how Americans have come to be overburdened with debt, groaning credit cards at the ready to tackle even more spending. How did we move from being prudent to being profligate? And how do we stop? I wouldn't say this book has all the answers, but at least it's asking the right questions. ( )
  Devil_llama | May 9, 2011 |
Although written 10 years before the credit crisis, the book looks at the consumerist culture that ultimately led to the credit crisis. It looks at the reasons why Americans have become so confortable with living beyond their means. Overall a good read mainly because it makes you look at yourself and assess the risks you're exposing yourself to by raking up more debt than you can manage. ( )
  mikeg2 | May 26, 2010 |
Across the front of my copy is a review excerpt: "Schor's study is a scornful indictment of consumerism—which, she argues, has created a nation of debtors but failed to fill a gaping cultural maw." A nation of debtors, indeed, which is now crashing around us. I read this ten years ago, and it is well worth a look to get some perspective on what we're dealing with today. ( )
  PhaedraB | Mar 19, 2009 |
Interesting. ( )
  Yestare | Dec 5, 2007 |
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For Prasannan, who taught me the value of money
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In 1996 a best-selling book entitled The Millionaire Next Door caused a minor sensation.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060977582, Paperback)

If getting and spending define our lives, then Juliet Schor now has us covered. Six years ago, her book The Overworked American scrutinized the getting part. It focused public attention on the disappearance of leisure and the harmful effects thereof on families and society. It sparked a debate over whether Americans really work as much as we proudly claim. (If so, how to explain the audience for Monday Night Football?) Nevertheless, Schor can take credit for helping push Congress into passing the Family Leave Act in 1993.

Now she is back with a critique of our spending. Schor notes that, despite rising wealth and incomes, Americans do not feel any better off. In fact, we tell pollsters we do not have enough money to buy everything we need. And we are almost as likely to say so if we make $85,000 a year as we are if we make $35,000. Schor believes that "keeping up with the Joneses" is no longer enough for today's media-savvy office workers. We set our sights on the lifestyles of those higher up the organizational chart. We seek to emulate characters on TV. For teenagers, "enough" is the idle splendor that hardly exists outside of what MTV un-ironically calls The Real World. Schor offers an original and provocative analysis of why many Americans feel driven and unhappy despite our success. As an alternative, she profiles several "downshifters" who've taken up voluntary simplicity in search of a more satisfying way of life. No policy solutions suggest themselves this time, only a change of heart. --Barry Mitzman

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Juliet Schor presents original research showing how keeping up with the Joneses has evolved from keeping pace with one's neighbors and others in a similar social set to keeping up with a referent group that may include co-workers who earn five times one's own salary or television "friends" whose lifestyle is unattainable for the average person. The book also describes the growing backlash of people who are "downshifting" by working less, earning less, and finding balance by getting their lifestyles in sync with their values.… (more)

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