Just before the Beijing Olympics, I splurged and bought a high-definition TV.
It was more than I wanted to spend—or should have spent—but I justified the extravagance to my wife with just three little words: “We deserve it.”
I felt bad as soon as I said it. But I knew I wasn’t alone. Over the past few years, “we deserve it” has become a national anthem, fueling impulse purchases of everything from lattes to luxury cars.
All of that’s changed, of course. Consumers today are singing a far more temperate tune, cutting back on discretionary buys, and steepening the economic decline that freewheeling spending helped to create.
It’s a thorny Catch-22 that has me thinking this morning: Do we still deserve it? Or are we finally getting exactly what we all deserve?