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Pique n your interest

What recession?


You know when they have a graphic on CBC news for "Today’s Lay Offs" that we’re up to our necks in a recession. Blame the Japanese and Asian markets for not recovering fast enough from the last recession. Blame flagging consumer confidence, and the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Blame over-inflated tech stocks that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. Blame the over-excited bankers who told you that the stock market was unstoppable. Blame over-confidence. Blame globalization. Blame greed.

Just don’t blame me.

A recession is a condition whereby consumers, after sticking their heads out of their holes like so many prairie dogs and sniffing the breeze, collectively decide to stop spending money – usually because some Wall Street analyst type hints that a recession may be on the way because housing starts are down by half a per cent.

While people are watching their purse strings these days, causing mass lay-offs in dozens of consumer industries, I’m spending more than ever.

After spending the last two Christmases in Whistler, my mom suggested it would be a good idea to come home this year. Seven hundred dollars later I’ve got a round trip ticket to Toronto on Canada 3000.

I know, I should have travelled by Air Canada, since they’re having all the problems, but they’re just too expensive. It was almost $150 more for flying Air Canada in the same time period, and that’s after all the lay-offs and the government bail-out. Maybe that’s why they’re having problems – when people are watching their budgets, you’d better believe they’re looking for airline deals.

I also emptied the bank at the Turkey Sale, sending money to Salomon, North Face, and Swany, as well as host Whistler-Blackcomb. If there are two kinds of needs, your must-haves and your wants, these purchases probably fell into the latter category, so I’d say my consumer confidence is high, maybe even in the frivolous area.

I went to a Vancouver Canucks game, ate a pretzel and drank three beers. I’ve gone to two movies in the last few weeks at regular prices. I’ve rented three movies, two of which I had to pay overdue fines for.

In the past two weeks, I’ve eaten out five times, not including lunch, and I’ve gone out for beers once or twice. I’ve been to the liquor store and to the cold beer and wine store.

I bought insulation materials at Home Hardware to winterproof my house, and new bearings for a beat up skateboard that I may not get to ride until spring.

I bought a new golf disc because my old one was too chunky for the new course.

I bought a Raceface hoody, because it was on sale.

In the past month I also bought seven new CDs, two of which haven’t even been played yet.

I bought two Playstation games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and a Final Fantasy, because I can’t resist a deal.

To nurture my artistic side, I purchased and painted a beer stein at Expressions as part of Oktoberfest.

I think I broke my foot slipping down some wooden stairs in my socks. That’ll cost me something.

And then there are the purchases that I’m about to make.

I’m buying a headlamp for riding my bike at night. I’m buying Christmas presents. I’m shopping for a laptop computer, because with the recession on, I can’t afford not to. I want a wah pedal for my electric guitar, and some new long underwear for snowboarding this year.

Somehow I’m also managing to put some money away for Christmas, although that’s a bit of a mystery to me.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this spending spree. People I know have bought cars, bicycles, motorcycles, televisions, cell phones, computers, skis, snowboards, you name it.

Although some people are afraid that resort visitors will be down this year, most people are confident that while business may be down from previous record years, business will still be good.

So spend. If everyone in Canada went out tomorrow for a new CD, that would put more than $50 million into circulation. If everyone bought a new sweater at Hudson’s Bay, they won’t go the way of Eaton’s.

President Bush said it’s an American’s patriotic duty to go to baseball games and fly on airplanes, and I’m pretty sure Jean Chretien said something similar in that thick brogue of his.

Why sock everything away for the next 40 years for the last 10 years of your life? See you at the bank.

— Andrew Mitchell