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June 25, 2007

A Chart

mags_diary21_retail_graph_2.jpg

America. For years, I have been telling people that all America means anymore is "more crap, cheaper". That is hard to quantify, and hard to get your head around sometimes, but a simple chart like the above paints an almost surreal picture - especially if you think that the America of 2007 is a normal environment. We have been living abroad more of less for about 7 years now, the last 2 in Europe. Here is the simple take away - the big downside in Europe is that "things" are more expensive - clothes, toys, stuff for you house maybe, etc. Otherwise - the quality of life overall seems well above what Americans are getting now. Better and free health care, more vacation time, better public transportation, more engaged communities, better consumer rights, fresher and healthier food, etc. Europe has it problems, no doubt. Much of Europe thinks Americanizing their economies and even their life styles is going to improve their lot. I don't think a ten-fold increase in retail space is going to get you anything positive. Unfortunately it seems the groups most interested in America are not "Europeans" per se, but immigrants to European countries - and European politicians looking for quick economic and social fixes. I can understand the lure of America - you can start with nothing and make something (or at least you could in the old days) - and that is a powerful draw for many people who can not get a chance anywhere else in the world. But the America of 2007 is suddenly a broken place, a place out of step with the world. More shopping is not going to fix it.

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