ECONOMIC LESSONS FROM AMERICA'S "BOOZE INDICATORS"

Jack Welch, what a guy! The former-CEO of General Electric – who paid himself a fortune while slashing jobs and busting the wages of GE's workers – had an epiphany in 1995. Actually, what he had was heart-bypass surgery, which prompted him to consider his own mortality and reassess his values.

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ECONOMIC LESSONS FROM AMERICA'S "BOOZE INDICATORS"
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Jack Welch, what a guy! The former-CEO of General Electric – who paid himself a fortune while slashing jobs and busting the wages of GE’s workers – had an epiphany in 1995. Actually, what he had was heart-bypass surgery, which prompted him to consider his own mortality and reassess his values.

Waxing philosophical, Jack says that, upon reflection, he now feels remorse for how he had lived. What was his chief regret? “Before the operation,” he says, “I didn’t spend enough money. Before that I tended to buy inexpensive wine. I would never spend $100 on a bottle of wine. Now I never spend less than that.”

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Wow, what a deep thinker. He gives narcissistic self-entitlement a bad name.

However, there are a couple of groups that wish more of us would think like Jack: restaurateurs and wine merchants. It seems that today’s economic malaise is causing consumers to cut back on their booze purchases, thus squeezing a very large and broad economic sector.

Not that people are drinking any less. In fact, the overall volume of wine, beer, and liquor sales is up – perhaps because folks feel a need to drown their economic woes. The problem is that, unlike such fat cats as Jack, customers are trading down. Instead of selecting a nice bottle of chardonnay at the store for 20 bucks, they’re going for the “Two-buck-Chuck.” Likewise, bars and restaurants are hurting because more people are choosing to eat and drink at home, and those who do go out are foregoing the pricier top-shelf stuff. In today’s economy, the new seven-course dinner is a six-pack and a Slim Jim.

What we’re re-learning from America’s “booze-indicator” is that the trickle-down effect of the wealthy few can’t sustain an economy – we need the percolate-up impact that only comes when the many are doing well.

“Economy drives us to drink on the cheap,” www.nj.com, June 10, 2009.

I’m making moves!

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