So Wal-Mart is bringing back layaways, a retail strategy originally introduced during the Depression of the 20th century (as opposed to the one we’re living in now) to allow retailers to claim money from people who are already financially depleted by taking advantage of the fact that at least some people still get a regular paycheck, however anemic that check might be.
The advantage to retailers is that even if a “consumer” is virtually bankrupt, as long as they are getting a regular check, they can be tempted to buy big-ticket, non-essential items like big screen TVs, X-Boxes and iPads, and pay for them in installments. Once you’ve given up enough of your income to cover the expense, the retailer gives you your item and for a few days you can feel like you are keeping up with the Joneses.
Far better, in this ever-faltering economy we live in, to save your money, use it for important things like food or rent, or if you must spend it on non-essential goods, at least spend it at a small, local business that will likely re-invest your money in your own local community.
While Wal-Mart’s revival of the layaway will certainly be seen by many desperate shoppers as a real boon to their holiday shopping this season, the truth is that most people here in Los Estados Unidos are already past the financial breaking point, and Wal-Mart’s move is not a beneficent kindness, but rather a cynical cash-grab, a workaround for the fact that most of us are already past the breaking point, but desperate to create one more “normal” holiday season for our families before we all have to admit that abject poverty really is the new normal.
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