Japan To America: Thrift Is A Vice

Every time you darn your socks, a child goes hungry.

Not only did your overspending cause the recession, your underspending – Nielsen’s Feburary Economic Current predicts consumer saving rates will rise from 1.7% in 2008 to 5.1% in 2009 – is going to deepen it. America’s new thrift ain’t a fad, and will destroy it, like Japan, says NYT. Over there, having gone through a decade-long recession, well-off families do horrible things like use bath water to wash the laundry, hold back on flat-panel TV purchases when they know the prices are going down, and there’s an overall disinterest in new cars and luxury goods. What bastards.

When Consumers Cut Back: A Lesson From Japan [NYT]
Nielsen Economic Current Debuts [Nielsen] (Photo: Ryan McFarland)

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Who uses bath water to wash laundry? Ew.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @pecan 3.14159265:

      All it’s for is delivering the detergent and carrying away most of the filth. I presume they are still rinsing with clean water.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: It’s sensationalizing something by omission.

      It’s not the water you clean yourself in but rather the hot water that you soak in after cleaning yourself that they’re talking about here.

      • shepd says:

        @Real Cheese Flavor:

        Exactly. Having a bath in Japan is more akin to soaking in a Spa here, except it’s considered rude to enter the bath if you haven’t already washed. So the water is no more dirty than if you dipped your finger in your teacup to tell the waterlevel (a technique used by blind people).

        • Skunky says:

          @shepd: Anyone I know who has a hottub considers it rude to use it without at least a rinse in the shower beforehand too. No one wants to scrub people flakings outta their tub and filter.

        • Kaellorian says:

          @shepd: Except, you know, this water has touched genitals. Granted, they’re recently washed genitals, but it’s genital-touched water nonetheless.

          • JamieSueAustin says:

            @Kaellorian: What? Your underpants don’t touch your genitals before you wash them? What does it matter if genital water washes genital underpants if clean water rinses?

    • jaydez says:

      @pecan 3.14159265:

      My grandfather actually does that… then he drains it into his vegetable garden.

      His toilet has also been broken for 20 years and his front door knob is a ratchet. He took and old sink i tore of a bathroom so he could have the 20 year old faucet to replace the one that was broken for 10+ years in his bathroom. His oven broke a few years ago so my grandmother now cooks with a hot plate and bakes with a toaster oven.

      He is just a little thrifty.

      • Con Seannery gives up on subtlety, BAN FACEBOOKERS! says:

        @jaydez: My dad keeps ANYTHING he think may be useful. He has saved hundreds as a result.

      • batsy says:

        @jaydez: Our dishwasher broke ten years ago and we just let it sit there and hand wash everything. I think it’s more out of fear of asbestos than thriftiness, though.

    • Garbanzo says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: My in-laws. Their garage, where they keep the holding tanks, smells awful. But the clothes come out smelling fine.

    • Jabronimus says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Did you not read the article? The Japanese do.

  2. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Reuse bath water? Yeah right, everyone knows that the Japanese simply banish food particles to the land of wind and ghosts.

  3. I_have_something_to_say says:

    If you have to wash your clothes with bath water you must be in serious financial shit let me tell you. I’d have a hell of a time running buckets downstairs and tossing them in my front loader.

    • bucklefilledbird says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: You wouldn’t have a front loader either, you’d be doing your laundry by hand… which is the exactly the point. Less water waste, less electricity used, more physical labor… less time on the couch with a bag of chips watching G4…

      • lockdog says:

        @bucklefilledbird: While a broke grad student living in a third floor apartment, my wife and I spend a summer washing most of our clothes by hand. We found a rub board and galvanized bucket at the hardware store and would sit out on our balcony scrubbing away, then hang them on the railing to dry. We learned a few lessons: if you want your whites to stay that way, you will need to add bluing. Also, using a rub board is hard, hard work, not just on you, but on your clothes. Garments just aren’t made like they used to be.

    • FnordX says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: Japanese baths are quite different from American style baths. Think more like hottub, and/or look up “Furo” on wikipedia.

    • menty666 says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: You can divert runoff from showers and baths to holding tanks to reuse for non-drinking uses like laundry, toilet flushing, or watering the garden. You just have to be more cautious about the type of soaps you use; in other words you’d want environmentally friendly shampoos and soaps.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @menty666: The technical term for this is “gray water”. Shower and bath water is probably OK, but you do not want to use kitchen sink water this way. It will contain food particles, and if you store water like that for long it will quickly start to smell like something died in it. Any RVer who has stored an RV for the winter without putting something that won’t evaporate in the sink traps is pretty familiar with that smell…

    • BritBoy says:

      @I_have_something_to_say:

      “you must be in serious financial shit” : many ARE in serious financial shit !!

    • Chris 'Sparky' Gordon says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: Having been to Japan, and by being married to a Japanese woman, I can tell you that carrying the water would not be an issue.

      In a Japanese house, the bathroom and laundry are either in the same area, or in the same room.

      Also, the bathtub and shower area are in their own annex of the bathroom, separated from the sink and mirror.

      As for getting the water to the clothes washer, all you do is put a hose in the bathtub. Using the mighty power of suction, the water is pumped out of the bathtub, and into the washer.

      As for the water itself, many have commented on how relatively clean it is. I can tell you that japanese bathing habits are very different from ours.

      Old Europeans habits are that the oldest person washes first, or the breadwinner/man of the house, while the water is clean and warm. Next is usually the mans dad or wife, and further down the pecking order. After a while, the water is not only cold, but quite dirty, because they do all their washing in this one bath.

      This is where the phrase “dont throw the baby out with the bathwater” came from, the water would be so dirty, that you didnt see the baby!

      Japaneses style is different. Typically, the guest is first to bathe. You disrobe in the bathroom area (sink and mirror [the toilet is in a separate room all together, and I’m sure you’ve heard about how awesome japanese toilets are…they have heated seats!] ) and go to the bathing area.

      The bathing area has a shower head that is on a hose, and the bathtub is usually covered with a lid.

      You stand or sit on a stool in the shower area, and wash yourself there. Essentially, you are taking a shower. Once you are completely clean and rinsed of all soap, THEN you remove the cover from the bath, and go sit and soak.

      Another thing about Japanese bath tubs: They are not “lie down and soak” tubs like what you see in most western films. They are about half the size, but twice as deep. You sit down with your legs folded, and typically, the water will come up to your neck.

      Finally, when yo are done (about 5 min of soaking in the tub), you get out, and indicate to the others that you are done. Once the guests have completed their washing, then the rest of the family goes in.

      Additionally, the water is still warm. Unlike our style which is to turn on he hot water, and let it sit in the tub, they actually begin with cold water into the tub, and the tub itself warms the water up! That’s right, there is a thermostat for the tub, just like a jacuzzi! So no matter when your turn is, the water is just as warm as when the first person got in.

      All in all, 5-6 people are typically in the water, and compared to old european bathing habits, the water is still clean enough to not lose a baby.

      And good enough to wash clothes.

      …And seriously, why shouldn’t we do that?! Use our bath water to wash our clothes. After the water has washed the clothes, it becomes grey water, and can also be used to irrigate plants. Make use of our available resources, and we wouldn’t have some of the issues we do.

      Stupid California and our droughts and water wasting ways…

    • GMFish says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: “If you have to wash your clothes with bath water you must be in serious financial shit let me tell you.

      You don’t understand how the Japanese bathe. We in the west bathe to get clean. However, the Japanese will clean themselves prior to getting in the bath. The bath is simply intended to lay in while you relax. It’s also quite common for the entire family to use the exact same bath water. But considering everyone is clean prior to getting into the water, there’s really nothing gross, unsanitary, or unclean about it.

    • I_have_something_to_say says:

      @I_have_something_to_say:

      Very interesting Chris, thanks for taking the time to type all that out. I’m not against reusing water at all – the thing for me is that I don’t think I can get any more efficient than my 5 minute shower and front loader which hardly uses any water at all.

      Sure not everyone can afford a front loader but the water use and detergent cost difference is amazing not to mention much less time in the dryer due to high speed water extraction.

      All in all, I don’t think reusing bath water is going to amount much in the way of savings unless your water costs are very high or you’re wasting a lot of it to begin with.

  4. jklug80 says:

    Ricardo Montalban. That’s all I’m saying. If he was still around he could fix this.

  5. sonneillon says:

    Consumer savings rates should be closer to %10 for people who plan on retiring at a reasonable time. This is a readjustment period and while it is rough during this time, things will improve and hopefully we’ll have learned some lessons from this period. I think things will get better toward the later half of this year, not a lot better but a little. Next year might be a boom year though.

  6. spoco says:

    I read this and have to say that although I did not believe I was participating in the economic crisis, I have found myself saving more so I guess I am.

    The consumerist also taught me that I am a vulture for buying my new home at a steal. I mean, I feel bad when you think about how cheap I got this house.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @spoco: I’m something of an idiot, which explains most of my posts. The rest can be explained by the large chip on my shoulder, but that’s neither here nore there.

      The point is, I’m an idiot, and yet it occured to me that maybe, just maybe, my newfound paranoia-borne inclination to hoard money would probably do more harm than good in the long-run. It just seems to me that while saving is not a bad thing, the last thing our economy needs right now is for everybody to stuff all their cash into a mattress or whatever.

      It seems like a vicious cycle, but I live most days in a haze, so I could be wrong.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        @Cyberxion101: Cyberxion, it does the economy good if you spend the money, period. It doesn’t matter that much when you spend it. At least, that is, it matters more to you than to anyone else. Right now, I can get by on less than I make, so I’m saving. If I get laid off, or if I get sick or something, I will contribute my fair share to the economy then rather than now. Think of your own needs first.

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @speedwell, avatar of snark: I remember it being remarked once that the ideal American, from a GDP standpoint, would be a cancer patient going through a messy divorce. Basically the more money you spend the better off the economy is; it doesn’t matter where you get it or what you spend it on.

          This is one of the reasons economics is such a dismal science. Maximizing the stuff economists consider “good” is rarely good for individual people.

  7. JGKojak says:

    I am sensing a pattern here:

    Wall Street eats investments and real estate, collapses the housing market and generally works only to enrich itself.

    Some financial jackass from NYT writes an article decrying that Americans actually acting in their own self interest out of self-preservation, after witnessing what Wall St has done to them, is somehow bad.

    Methinks he doth protest too much. Methinks the crooks can’t get their hands on our money if we save it and spend frugally.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @JGKojak: Methinks it makes a modicum of sense. It might be overstating the issue just a bit, but I think it’s definitely something to think about.

    • Keter says:

      @JGKojak: Absolutely that is the truth of it, methinks you did not overstate the case at all – if anything, you understated it. When it all comes out in the wash (bathwater or not), the magnitude of the fraud that has been perpetrated on average Americans will be breathtaking.

      I am frugal and distrustful of anyone when it comes to my money, so I never participated in the whole credit/subprime/stock market stuff, and I always darned socks and bargain hunted with the best of ‘em. So what’s going on hasn’t hurt me other than it’s harder to find paying work these days. I’m not going to change my ways now no matter how much it makes the money-men weep and rend their clothes.

      I’m actually glad this “crisis” happened so as to expose the corruption and fraud for everyone to see. Maybe now we can get back to a reality-based economy and kick the greedy b@stards to the curb along with their enablers in Washington.

      • ADismalScience says:

        @Keter:

        I am frugal and distrustful of anyone when it comes to my money, so I never participated in the whole credit/subprime/stock market stuff, and I always darned socks and bargain hunted with the best of ‘em. So what’s going on hasn’t hurt me other than it’s harder to find paying work these days.

        [en.wikipedia.org]

      • bohemian says:

        @Keter: I am much the same, fairly distrustful when it comes to finances. The amounts we did have in 401k would have been all but wiped out had we not pulled them out for an emergency about three months prior. It is a real wake up call when fixing your car became a stellar financial move. Everyone else still in those funds lost most or all of it when the market tanked.

        I hate seeing what is happening to regular people but it has served as a very enlightening wake up call about the total bullshit that was being passed off as financial advice.

  8. Allen Keller says:

    You have it wrong. Japanese people have a different way of taking baths. You only soak in the bath, you scrub and use soap outside of the bath with a shower.

    • Robobot says:

      @Allen Keller: Yep, and in many households everyone in the household still uses the same bath water in order of household hierary, although that is becoming less and less common.

      (I promise I’m not a weeboo, just had the misfortune of eight years of Japanese classes as a child. This comment is one of the first times they have ever come in handy.)

      • jamar0303 says:

        @Robobot: (on a related note, seriously, why are some people so quick to cry weeaboo at the slightest mention of Japan? I mean, come on, you don’t see Japanese people crying “redneck” the instant one of them mentions America, right?)

  9. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I would gladly wash clothes with japanese-style bathtub water if it meant I could get some of that sweet sweet 1% private loan action. Sure beats the pants of my mortgage.

  10. Super Moose says:

    So my new laptop is saving America. Cool.

  11. andres783 says:

    I have always wondered why we dont use shower water to flush toilets… why are we wasting clean water to get rid of waste?

    • brbn_nattie says:

      @andres783: My parents have been doing this for years.

    • Firethorn says:

      @andres783: We’re incredibly phobic of dirty water in this country; besides, it’s cheaper to plumb in everything to use fresh water and dump every drain to the sewer than to install grey water systems.

      It works until you start running short on water. Even then, I’ve read about some areas having problems because they got *TOO* water saving – not enough water running through the sewers to keep things moving.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it wouldn’t end up being chepaer to install one of the treatment plants that can take the nastiest water in the world and turn it back into drinking water, and simply accept a certain level of ‘waste’.

  12. Repique says:

    If you *define* economic health as “high spending”, then of course a cut in spending is never going to lead to a healthy economy. But where’s the real evidence that high consumer spending on luxuries actually leads to a more prosperous country overall?

    We need to get out of this mode of thinking of economics. Bigger is not always better. More is not always better. Growth is not always better. This model made sense as long as the population was always increasing by leaps and bounds, and there was always more space for those people to occupy, more resources to be consumed.

    Now we know that we’ve got only one planet, one supply of fossil fuels, that most of us don’t want six kids even if it was a good idea. And if we stop physically expanding, we cannot continue economically expanding indefinitely.

    That means we need to find a model of stability that doesn’t require a constantly expanding economy. And so, evidently, does Japan. That doesn’t mean that frugality is bad.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Repique: Amen. I think economists view the world as a game, where GDP is the score. Whichever country has the most points “wins,” regardless of what it does to the well-being of its population in the process. Partly this is because well-being is hard to measure, and economists only care about stuff they can easily put into numbers.

      • ADismalScience says:

        @David Brodbeck:

        GDP is a measure of output, but you’re right. It includes destructive behaviors, and doesn’t measure “happiness.” There have been several attempts to quantify those concepts more accurately.

        In the long-view, GDP is probably a poor way to structure society. But if you don’t maximize output, most of us will be sitting idle – it calls into question what a future economy would look like when transacting goods isn’t a real priority.

        • cordeliapotter says:

          @ADismalScience: I have always been confused as to why our economy is based on tricking people into spending lots of money on worthless junk…and I think it’s because imagining a future economy where, as you say, “transacting goods isn’t a real priority,” is just too terrifying for economists.

  13. pb5000 says:

    So the article ends with The family has not gone on vacation in two years and still watches a cathode-ray tube TV. Oh the horror, sounds like my life, which if you ask me is not that bad.

    • kingmanic says:

      @pb5000: My chinese immigrant parents have gone on a total of 7 vacations in 28 years. Worn the same cloths for most of that period and lived and thrived off of a little more than minimum wage (but 60h a week). While I don’t really want to live the same way; the sacrifice they made for me allows me not to have to. In a way the NYT is right; if everyone lived like that so many of the peripheral industries and institutions (professional sports, fashion, etc. . .) would cease to exist.

    • Keter says:

      @pb5000: Oh, I have to play “can you top this?” now…just too tempting. ;o)

      31 years in the workforce – one paid vacation, which I spent moving because my landlord sold the house I was living in and only gave me a month’s notice to relocate – after I thought we had worked out a deal for me to buy the house. Unemployment does not count as vacation time.

      No TV at all; had been a CRT TV. My spending all goes to fixing up my house and the tools of my trade (computer and peripherals).

      • pb5000 says:

        @Keter: Sucks Keter, good luck.

        although I wasn’t trying to give a sob story, my point was that the article paints a sad picture of not having the latest and greatest TV or being able to take the annual vacation. My point was that I don’t take a vacation every year nor have a nice TV, but I also think my life is pretty good and have no big complaints.

        Hope your luck turns around.

  14. PingPongDarts says:

    I hate articles like this where important cultural differences are omitted leaving little or no context for the comparisons being made.

    Perhaps I missed the explanation in the article but–as others have already pointed out–the Japanese thoroughly clean themselves OUTSIDE the bathtub before soaking in the water. This important fact logically explains why it would be much easier for them to re-use their bath water as it would be significantly cleaner.

    • Saboth says:

      @PingPongDarts:

      I never understood the bath, myself. Soak in your own filth then get out and think you are clean?

      At the very least, you should shower before or after the bath..but then…why not just take the shower?

      • RandomHookup says:

        @Saboth: Because not every bath tub is equipped with a shower? I know the 1930s era house I grew up in had a shower and two separate bathtubs.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        @Saboth: Oh, Saboth, as someone who is addicted to floating around blissfully in a tub of nice warm water, I would never think of asking that question.

  15. cmdrsass says:

    I bet the only kids in America who know what darning means are the ones studying for the spelling bee, or possibly pint-size Civil War reenactors.

  16. SacraBos says:

    Thrift is a vice? Well, Gluttony is a sin. So there.

    I’m still working out the math on this one. If I darn a sock, a child goes hungry. How about if I staple it, is that okay? So how many children go hungry if Sally Struthers darns a sock? How many children go hungry if I sew my own Snuggie? Are kids going to be going around at Halloween selling clothing for UNICEF, instead of asking for donations? I’m so confused.

  17. ADismalScience says:

    Paradox of thrift. The NYT spends a lot of time fluffing Keynes, so this should be unsurprising. Consumption means you need people to produce what you consume and that, my dear friends, is an economy.

    In a larger sense, why are you darning socks? You’ve got an economic specialization in some other task. The ideal future state for economies (theoretically) is a world in which people only do the task they’ve got a comparative advantage in and trade for the rest.

    Delaying consumption is another matter. Ideally, society should be constructed so there is no reason to save. That way, you consume as much as possible, maximizing output.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ADismalScience:

      You speak like a true economist. Yes, we’ve got specialization. But we’re only really paid to do it for 40 hours a week. The rest is bonus, and usually for them. Not us. Not you. If you work bonus hours, you get to keep your salary (if you’re lucky enough to have one and aren’t a wage slave). So all that specialization doesn’t count for much in your “free time”. In that time, I specialize in being a person and I economize differently.

      I don’t darn my socks because they’re usually worn through, not small holes, but I do mow my own lawn and do a lot of other chores for which I could pay someone. Is that time I could spend with my family and friends, as the argument goes? Of course. But I spend a lot of time with them because I don’t have “shows” I must watch or other things I must do. I see the people in my ‘hood. They pay for other people to mow their lawns and they’re just lazy. They use the time to keep watching TV. Fat lot of good their specialization does them. Here’s the point: a lot of people are lazy and specialization is an excuse. When you’re a person, you do a cost-benefit analysis of your time outside work. And sometimes, it means you darn your socks, make your own meals, wash your own clothes. Note that most of these are services. Which means people still buy food and clothes as they need them. That’s the specialization of which you speak. Nothing wrong with maintaining what you’ve already got.

    • Firethorn says:

      @ADismalScience: Actually, ideally society should be constructed so that there are very good reasons to save in the form of investing in economic infrastructure. IE a worker invests a portion of his labor in the very machines that help him, and other workers, produce MORE goods. After he retires; he reaps the rewards of said investment by selling said assets to the next generation.

      As a reward for the delayed gratification he endures in order to invest in said infrastructure, he gets a tithe(profit, interest, dividends) of the resulting increased production. I’m oversimplifying, of course, but this is a forum, not a book.

  18. GMFish says:

    From the article: “Today, years after the recovery, even well-off Japanese households use old bath water to do laundry, a popular way to save on utility bills.

    Why is this shocking? Apparently the people working here are to young to remember anyone who made it through the great depression. Those people continued acting frugally throughout their lives.

  19. oneliketadow says:

    Economists can suck it. 2 years ago they were shouting “EVERYONE NEEDS TO SAVE!” and “LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS”. Now, they shout, “SPEND SPEND SPEND OR YOU HATE AMERICA”. They change their mind more than my wife does and with less logic.

  20. cametall says:

    Guess I couldn’t pee in the shower anymore if >.>

  21. MaytagRepairman says:

    I want my socks to last longer but I don’t want to learn how to darn them. Maybe I should just stop wearing socks?

  22. aclark1998 says:

    Yeah, right.

    For the next few years of my adult life, I WILL be trying to lower credit card rates, walking or busing instead of driving my car from 2002, negotiating purchases, going for the best deal, and trying to save in numerous accounts.

    What I won’t be doing? Buying expensive TVs, getting the latest and greatest fad gadget, buying overpriced clothes from department stores, and grocery shopping without coupons.

    It has taken me a long time and serious economic shocks for me to get it, but I’ve finally figured it out. Thrift isn’t a vice, it’s a responsibility, because no one else is going to look out for you and your family. If the society’s job is to keep you spending money until you are broke, then the society needs to change its focus.

    • ADismalScience says:

      @aclark1998:

      What do you do for a job? Honest question.

      Somewhere, someone is paying you to make a good or provide a service. What if they get thrifty?

  23. GearheadGeek says:

    Making intelligent, efficient use of gray water is at least as much about being green as it is about being thrifty. The standard American cookie-cutter home with a chemical-green lawn is unnatural and inefficient, but if you have to water your lawn, it’s much better to do it with captured rainwater or with gray water from your household than it is to gush clean, potable water onto it.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @GearheadGeek: Back when we were in a level 4 drought there was a lot of talk about gray water. They had to pass a bill to allow people to use gray water on their lawns (though I can’t remember why we couldn’t before).

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: There are all sorts of patchwork regulations about it. On a TV green-renovation show they were (I believe) in Atlanta and the graywater system there had to have dye in the water… so the water in their toilets was blue even without a tidy-bowl dispenser. I don’t know if there’s an exception for water you use on the landscaping. It makes sense inside the house… you would want to know immediately if a plumber’s error put gray water into the kitchen faucet, for example. Lots of building and residential codes aren’t there for logical reasons though.

  24. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    I can’t help but wonder why you’d buy a luxury car in Japan anyway. It’s a little country with big cities and good public transit infrastructure (although I understand it’s stretched to the breaking point, but the roads suck too).

  25. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been a long-time reader of the Consumerist, and never before have I seen such a knee-jerk reaction such as this make it through my RSS feeds. Perhaps if you read the article a bit more closely, you’d understand the perspective that the article has been written.

    Japan’s economy has been in constant stagnation since the ending of their real estate boom in the late ’80s. During the 90s people spent, just not nearly as much as during their boom years, and Japan’s massive government-led reinvestment programs did nothing to help this. In fact, they only helped to increase Japan’s debt and massive budget deficits. This was called “The Lost Decade” for a VERY good reason.

    Nowadays, the Japanese save not because they actually NEED to, but because of a massive outpouring of fear that if they do spend, their money will vanish instantly, and lose all of its value. Yet, the only way the Japanese economy has any hope of recovering in this modern day and age – since they are more affected by the actual STRENGTH of their currency due to their reliance on exports, rather than this recent economic downturn – is for the Japanese to spend. The exact thing that they are not doing.

    Our current recession has been 2 years long now. 2 years. Japan’s? 20. They have had chances to get out of it, and yet people still have not realized that to do so, they must do the exact thing they fear. An inept parliamentary government and social programs notwithstanding.

    This article, to me, seems to warrant merely a close look at FUTURE habits, rather than current ones. As if this recession should last longer than 3-5 years (making it by and far a depression), spending – in any way, shape, or form – will have to resume.

  26. Thorgryn says:

    If you think reusing the bath water is bad (even though it was never washed in) You really don’t want to know what happens when you use the toilet!

    You use the toilet and flush, then you wash your hands in the little sink that is on top of the toilet tank! That’s right, your dirty water that you washed your hands in will be used for the next flush!

    • Yamunation says:

      @Thorgryn:
      How is THAT gross?
      You’re acting like it’s the other way around.

      • Thorgryn says:

        @Yamunation:

        Frankly, I don’t think either is gross. Since you have just had a good shower before you get into a Japanese bathtub there is nothing dirty about the water that you will be using for the first part of the wash cycle.

        Oh no! I might get some spare skin flakes on the clothes I just wore when they are in the washing machine!

        The only thing that is rough about the washing your hands from the water going into the toilet tank is doing so in the winter, that water is COLD! (from experience)

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @Thorgryn: Wait. Are you saying that my clean hands will make my poo dirty?

  27. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    America to Japan: Yo Mama Is A Ho

  28. nobodyman says:

    I hate to be a grammar Nazi, but “disinterest” was used incorrectly here. It does not mean “lack of interest”, rather, it means “unbiased” or “not invested in”. Whenever I see people using this word incorrectly it’s like nails on a chalkboard (right up there with “irregardless”).

  29. econobiker says:

    So vulture businesses convinced everyone that the individuals and not the company should manage their retirement funds. Poof- bye, bye pensions and hello 401k. N

    ow they have looted the value of the 401k/IRA and are complaining about people saving too much. Yeah, right, thanks for the update.

    • ADismalScience says:

      @econobiker:

      In fairness, pensions were just “on paper.” And they’re rapidly proving to be lies – towns have been declaring bankruptcy, and GM is a high-profile victim of ladled expenses. The simple fact is that the pot just isn’t as big as anyone said it was.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @ADismalScience: I think the problem is, sadly, with the whole idea of retirement. Regardless of whether the money is in a pension or in the stock market, you still have too few productive workers supporting too many retirees.

        We’re all going to have to work longer. Unfortunately it gets increasingly hard to land and keep a job as you get older; age discrimination is rampant in many fields.

  30. savdavid says:

    Bite me, Japan.

  31. kajillion says:

    When will you people learn that ending is better than mending?!

  32. iluvhatemail says:

    well all the money i spent over the years has only made others richer. i think it’s about time i have a decent amount of cash in my savings account too. its one or the other.

    • god_forbids says:

      @iluvhatemail: No, it’s not. Life is not a zero-sum game, and the entire field of economics is built on the idea (very, very well proven) that there are net gains from trade. That is to say we can make people better off without making anyone else worse off. Marx and Engels were wrong and have been proven wrong by history.

      The money you spent made everyone, including you, richer. And its not like you spent $$$ and got a steaming pile of cow dung, you got something of value in the exchange. Quit listening to Obama and the class/race-warfare banshees of the left.

      /rant

  33. howie_in_az says:

    So we’re screwed if we spend too much money and screwed if we don’t spend enough money.

    I feel better already.

    • Firethorn says:

      @howie_in_az: Well, the best way to go through life is in moderation, so yeah, don’t spend too much, don’t hoard too much.

      Remember, investing in stocks and bonds and such is still spending money. In some ways you’re investing in the economy that way, making it MORE useful than, say, buying that TV or couch.

  34. Yamunation says:

    I’m surprised George Bush didn’t catch on to this one, and make a plea for Americans to spend even more!!!

  35. u1itn0w2day says:

    So if I put new batteries in my Sony Walkman that still works I’m causing a person to eat cabbage more than once a week .

    Isn’t Japan already a place where you can rent a place to sleep that’s nothing more than a tube with a mattress in it ?

    Man,looks we hooked Japan to capitalism like a junkie on crack after WWII

  36. redkamel says:

    I like how its “bad” that people arent wasteful and dont like spending money on stuff they dont need. People used to think I was weird because I didnt have cable.

    It will hurt an economy. But eventually you will be left with a country with less people that spends and uses only what it needs, but still has fun sometimes…just doesnt ruin everything it touches. Everyone cant live like MTV.

  37. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I will gladly spend more money as soon as someone gives me more to spend.

  38. Subsound says:

    Outright super thrift is bad, if you are washing zip lock bags and reusing them you have way too much time on your hands…but if your spending like mad and carry credit card debts in the tens of thousands it’s even worse! There’s a happy medium called responsibility that people seem to be ignoring

  39. Anonymous says:

    In fairness to the Japanese, they soap and shower BEFORE getting in the bath. So the water remains relatively clean, even after the entire family shares the water.

  40. Mark Rice says:

    Further proof that Aldous Huxley was a futurist, not a fiction writer. Brave New World, indeed…