The Economy: Our Backlash to the Backlash


This young woman is on a “staycation.” But if you passed her by, you might think she was just walking her dog on any random day of any week of the entire year.Photo: Getty Images

So you know how the economy is stinking lately? Worse than the Second Avenue F train stop? Well, the media and retailers have done their best to make you feel better about it. Now we are inundated with advertisements for “staycations,” so you don’t have to deal with airline costs and expensive hotels while you’re off from work. Travel agents are pushing “mini-moons” to couples planning their weddings, so that they don’t suffer too heavily at the hands of a weak American dollar abroad. City papers across America are suggesting “one-tank trips” to minimize the impact of gas prices on your family vacation. It’s all designed to make us feel better about our place in the national economy, and it comes from a feeling of generosity.

But it doesn’t help. At least, not in our opinion. The worst feeling in bad economic times is the sense that you need to be helped out. That your life has to change in order to deal with it. That people need to feel sorry for you and to try to make you feel better. Pity is often the worst part of defeat!

In Europe, and in many other parts of the developed world, workers get much of (if not all of) August off, and six-week-vacation budgets are a minimum. Here in America, we’re lucky if we get a full two weeks, plus additional sick days. We need that free time. Even if we don’t do anything exciting, we need to know that we have the option of taking a big trip or having a fun adventure. (Did you know the Grand Canyon is right near Las Vegas? You can see it from the plane!) It’s no coincidence that the Times’ Friday travel section is called “Escapes.” We need to get out! The guys from Weekend at Bernie’s still took another vacation, and you saw how bad their first one was!

So when we are constantly inundated with news, advertisements, and offers telling us that we can’t actually escape, it just gets depressing. In August, of all times! Please, just let us ignore the economy for a minute and dream about where we are going to take that next big trip or honeymoon. We save up for vacations, so don’t discourage us from spending our money. If anything, dissuading Americans from spending on travel is going to hurt the economy, not help it. So, please, advertisers and travel agents and newspapers — stop trying to help. You’re only making it worse!

What do you readers think? How do all these budget advertisements make you feel?

Related: What Economic Measures Matter Most to New Yorkers? [NYM]

The Economy: Our Backlash to the Backlash