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D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e    March 2008

A Consuming Passion

Uncle Sam wants you — to spend! Some modest suggestions to help do your part to lift the sagging economy.

Every four or five years, the national economy seems to find itself in a state of distress. I have never personally met an economist, but there seems to be a whole passel of 'em around right now. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting some pompous Brooks Brothers-suited tool yammering about the abysmal state of our economy, and how we're all going to be wearing gunnysack dresses and living in cardboard condos unless we start spending money like Saudi Arabian princes.

Personally speaking, I feel I am doing my share to jumpstart the economy by spending money, but it seems the rest of you might not be pulling your weight. A recent trip through the aisles of the local Mega-Lo-Mart has shown me that you people have plenty of choices for spending that you might not have noticed up to now. It's un-American not to exercise your spending power and not to invest in our economy by availing yourself of the latest and greatest products!

For example, who doesn't love a soft, warm, golden-round pancake, hot off the griddle? Even better, how about a savory side of pan-fried pork sausage to go with the pancake? Now you don't have to trouble yourself with all the messy "cooking" involved with such a hearty breakfast! Instead you can head over to your local frozen-foods section for a box of Jimmy Dean "Pancake and Sausage on a Stick," now available with genuine artificially flavored chocolate chips embedded in the pancake batter! These little pork-filled missiles come with a wooden handle pre-installed for your dining pleasure, so all you have to do is pick 'em up off the microwavable plate and commence to masticating! Whee!

Because we live in the most affluent society on the planet, we as consumers have even more choices to make. Patio living is often practiced in our temperate clime here in Southwest New Mexico, and nothing adds a festive air to a patio like a couple of flickering, dancing tiki torches. But who wants to fool with those nasty, rickety, oily old tiki torches when modern science has joined forces with the Chinese manufacturing sector to provide us solar-powered tiki torches? The astute consumer will wonder how solar energy can benefit a device designed to function primarily in the dark. Long after the children have gone to bed and there's still beer that needs drinking, how can tiki torches function on the ill-formed promise of solar energy? I have the answer: These little babies represent the pinnacle of tiki engineering, flickering with the help of electronic LEDs powered by rechargeable batteries that receive a constant flow of diurnal juice from a small solar panel built into their plastic tops. When the daylight wanes, the solar-powered tiki torch knows it's time to work its magic, and begins to flicker in a way that might actually confuse a moth or a small child. No more wicks and no more oil — it's tiki time!

Still have some surplus funds to expend? Look no further than the fragrance counter at your local department store, where you can find a full line of celebrity-themed toilet waters! This correspondent heartily recommends the new Paris Hilton perfume — I'm not making this up — for those who want to associate themselves with the glamour and notoriety of the heiress to the Hilton fortune. I didn't actually sample this perfume myself, but I am familiar with the smell of stale beer, cigarettes and desperation, so I'm sure that Paris Hilton perfume will make the perfect gift for your favorite wife, girlfriend or rehab tourist.

Speaking of stale beer, there is another product you will find on the shelves that is perfect for people who like beer, but without all the relaxing effects of alcohol. Whether you are a reformed alcoholic who shouldn't drink regular beer, or you're just afraid of commitment, non-alcoholic beer is a high-water mark in wishy-washy products. Critics may argue that beer without alcohol is like a pickup truck without tires, but nobody likes criticism anyway, so you are free to enjoy all the positive attributes of beer without all the taste or distracting buzz.

My conscience is clear on this one, people. I have done all I can to compel you to loosen up the purse strings and get out there to spend some moolah. If the rest of you had been taking advantage of the multitude of quality products available at your local Mega-Lo-Mart, we probably wouldn't have had to let Congress pass the recent economic-stimulus package, where we're all going to get back some of our own money to spend foolishly. Don't come crying to me when your sub-prime, adjustable-rate mortgage shoots up like a junkie in Times Square, leaving you destitute and homeless. Your salvation is within your grasp, whether it's loading up on a gross of aerosol spray-on cheese canisters or a super-convenient hot-dogger for the kitchen.

A consumer-based economy is a happy economy, and what's good for Mega-Lo-Mart is good for America. Demand only the finest mass-produced, plastic consumer trinkets! They might be a little bit cheesy, but they're nicely displayed and put money back into the economy.



When not lecturing at the London School of Economics, Henry Lightcap spends his free time
and disposable income in Las Cruces.



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