John Q. Public, the “New” American Consumer

Experts are predicting a slow recovery for our economy because consumers aren’t spending enough.  I wondered why, so I asked John Q. Public who lives in Anytown, USA.  John calls himself the “new” American Consumer.  His remarks are below:

“I’m John Q. Public, the “new” American consumer and I’m a lot different than I used to be.  For months I held off purchasing a new car because the Federal Government was talking about giving me a rebate or tax credit.  They talked for months about an incentive for new car buyers.  The longer they talked, the longer I waited and the more auto-related jobs were lost.  Finally the Feds passed the legislation and I bought a new car with the help of my fellow taxpayers.  I would have bought a new car anyway and would have bought it a lot sooner, but I waited so I could get my government tax break.  It’s a new world for the American consumer!

For the last three months our politicians in Washington have been blabbing about a possible incentive plan for energy efficient appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, and maybe even air conditioners.  The local guy down at the appliance store is going to have to wait a few months because even though I need a new fridge, my old one will do for a while!  He might lay off his salesman or even close his doors, but as long as the government is even “talking” about some kind of a rebate, I’m keeping my wallet in my pocket.

Yesterday I saw a news story indicating there’s talk in Washington about an extension of the $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers.  The reporter said that some in Washington want to extend the deadline beyond November, 2009.  Get this; to revive the housing market they might even consider increasing the tax credit from $8,000 to $15,000 and make the tax credit available to all home buyers, no matter how many houses they own and regardless of income!

Our house is too small and we have the income and credit rating to “trade up” right now, but until I find out whether the government is going to extend or increase the home purchase tax credit, I’m sitting still.  That’s right; there will be no calling the realtor until I get even bigger incentives from the government!  The longer the government talks about it, the longer I’ll wait.

One good thing; I’ve been saving a lot of money lately by cutting back on my expenditures.  It’s nice to have some savings, especially since my 401K became a 201K.  The house needs maintenance, the washer is a little shaky, and the furnace is old, but I’m not buying anything until I find out what “goodies” the Government plans to give me first.  After all, who knows what other products and services might soon get some sort of government incentive?

Come to think of it, even if the politicians announced that all tax break and consumer incentive programs had ended, never again to be revived, I wouldn’t believe them.  I’d still hang on to my money for a while, just in case they were bluffing.

But it could be worse.  At least we still live in a free country.  After all, in some countries the government tells its citizens what to buy, when they can buy it, what companies will survive or die, and whether or not workers can get a raise.  I’d hate to live in a place like that.”

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