Mary Gordon's article “We Are All Spendthrifts Now” questions American's sense of worth when it comes to purchasing things. While Gordon does not hesitate to call us all “spendthrifts” in her title, she implies a number of things through a series of questions in her article. I think her implications are valid, but I don't see American society changing anytime soon.
One of the first things Gordon implies is that expensive dinners like a $60 plate of fish are probably not “worth it.” Eating out is not a cost-effective way of feeding ourselves, so Gordon's implication is valid. Considering that the average mark-up on a fish dinner at a middle-range restaurant is three times the actual food cost, it's easy to see why Gordon might feel the way she does and why I think her implication is true. However, some people would argue that part of the cost of eating out goes to the service and this is true. Other people might argue that eating out is not just about the food, it's about entertainment or getting a break from working hard. Because these points are also true and because a big part of our economy is based on the service industry, I don't think Americans will stop eating out. But after reading Gordon's article, maybe they will think twice about eating out as much.
Another implication Gordon makes is that her audience will react to her mention of the poor with “yawns or groans.” This implication stems from the assumption that her audience is not poor. This assumption is accurate since most people who read the New York Times are educated and enjoy middle to upper-class social standing. Because of this assumption, Gordon is able to imply how she thinks the audience thinks. They might be tired of hearing about “the poor” because they are part of the classes that get solicited for donations. They might groan because they feel uncomfortable knowing that they waste money that a poorer person could use for necessities. These implications are accurate and valid, too. She has pegged her audience correctly and I think there is a generally aloof or condescending attitude toward the poor in our society. But Gordon doesn't want to alienate her audience, so she implied things through questions.
Personally, her implications made me think more carefully about how I spend my money. But, as I said before, I don't think the American public will change because of her insights because we think spending money because we have it is part of being American.
Interpreting and Reflecting
In the article “We Are Where We Shop” Sharon Zukin discusses the fact that we Americans are just like the places we shop at. Zukin assumes that her audience shops at the bargain stores she talks about and she implies that we have sold our souls. “Yet Americans have made a Faustian deal with the culture of shopping, and especially with bargain culture.” I think her assumption is not all the way correct and that she goes to far by implying that bargain hunting is like negotiating with the devil.
First of all, most of Zukin's audience because they live in New York doesn't shop at Wal-Mart. They shop at rich people's places like Barney's (isn't that where Grace always shops?). Second of all, all Americans need good deals. No one is made of money and to imply that wanting deals is like bargaining with the devil for our souls is just wrong. Everyone is entitled to spend their money they way like and most people like to feel that they got a good deal when they buy things. How is that satanic? I think Zukin is way off the mark and if I shop at Wal-Mart then I am just being a careful spender.