The Decline of Thrift in America: Our Cultural Shift from Saving to Spending

Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991 - 196 頁
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From the beginning of our nation's history, with the Puritan and Protestant work ethics, through the 1950s, thrift was considered an important virtue, both with regard to the moral fiber of the country and as a support for its continuing economic well-being. The idea that deferring immediate pleasures to accumulate wealth for increased future value was considered virtuous, not just by the citizens but by politicians and the government as well. In this fascinating history of thrift, David Tucker describes how, after the Eisenhower period, thrift became an outdated, outmoded concept, and how the abandonment of thrift is in large part responsible for our current economic position.

Tucker begins his study by tracing the thrift culture in which America was born, which continued its dominance for more than a century. The notion that frugality was the best means for promoting the general welfare remained unchanged until the late nineteenth century, when an angry protest against more thrifty Chinese immigrants led to a reversal in cultural attitudes. A new ideal of a higher standard of living--supported by spending, consumption, and debt-- undercut the old virtue of thrift. Throughout the twentieth century, advertising, consumer credit, and a self-indulgent psychology have eroded the practice of frugality. In addition to this history, Tucker explores the dangers of the thriftless society, comparing America's current position to the economic rise and decline of the United Kingdom. With a savings rate that has fallen from 15 percent to 4 percent, and a government that routinely appropriates more than 100 percent of tax revenues, Tucker sees a moral deficiency in Americans. Thrift is no obsolescent virtue, he observes, if the nation is concerned with preserving a standard of living. This unique history and commentary will be a useful supplement to courses in current affairs, American history, and economics, as well as a significant addition to college, university, and public libraries.


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第 20 頁 - I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.
第 11 頁 - But the principle which prompts to save, is the desire of bettering our condition, a desire which, though generally calm and dispassionate, comes with us from the womb, and never leaves us till we go into the grave.
第 9 頁 - You call them goods ; but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you.
第 56 頁 - Whereas the trustees of the Society for establishing a Free School in the city of New York, for the education of such poor children as do not belong to, or are not provided for, by any religious society...
第 10 頁 - The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt, as Poor Richard says ; and again, to the same purpose, Lying rides upon Debt's back ; whereas a free-born Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue. It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.
第 59 頁 - ... for without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.
第 9 頁 - A fat kitchen makes a lean will; and Many estates are spent in the getting, Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting, And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting. If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting. The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than her incomes.
第 10 頁 - The borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor, disdain the chain, preserve your freedom; and maintain your independency: be industrious and free; be frugal and free. At present, perhaps, you may think yourself in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury, but, For age and want, save while you may; No morning sun lasts a whole day, as Poor Richard says.
第 9 頁 - What maintains one Vice, would bring up two Children. "You may think perhaps, that a little Tea, or a little Punch now and then, Diet a little more costly, Clothes a little finer, and a little Entertainment now and then, can be no great Matter; but remember what Poor Richard says, Many a Little makes a Mickle; and farther, Beware of little Expenses; A small Leak will sink a great Ship; and again.
第 20 頁 - How then is it possible that Methodism, that is, a religion of the heart, though it flourishes now as a green bay tree, should continue in this state? For the Methodists in every place grow diligent and frugal; consequently they increase in goods. Hence they proportionately increase in pride, in anger, in the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life.

關於作者 (1991)

DAVID M. TUCKER is Professor of History at Memphis State University. He is the author of four previous books: Lieutenant Lee of Beale Street, Black Pastors and Leaders: The Memphis Clergy, Memphis Since Crump: Bossism, Blacks, and Civic Reformers and Arkansas: A People and Their Reputation.