Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Roots of Cognitive Dissonance - Part I

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday. And now I understand why folks at the middle-high / high end are going, "Bad economy? What bad economy?"

Here's the story. A recent acquaintance of mine is somewhat of a bigshot for a marine electronics supply company. This particular company sells boating electronic equipment to a fairly high end clientele - we're not talking 18 foot SunRay boats here. Their primary niche is a customer base who own 25 to 75 foot pleasure boats - what you would generally refer to as "yachts" if you saw them docked at a local marina.

As we were wrapping up our conversation (after being interrupted several times by phone sales and inquiries), he closed with this:

"Business has never been better. I keep hearing all of this stuff about a bad economy, well, I'm not seeing it here. Yesterday, I was talking with one of our suppliers, and even this deep into July, they're having a hard time keeping up with demand. So, where's the disconnect? I can't see where things are that bad."

Obviously, a hard core Republican. Unfortunately, I wasn't in a position to set him straight at that particular time.

But I hope you get my drift. One thing we've clearly seen over the past several years (and I'll go as far as to indict the conservative Democratic Party administration that preceded the current business-friendly neoclowns) is that the rich have most certainly gotten richer. So, someone catering to that clientele clearly isn't going to see ongoing problems with the economy. They're not selling to the guy that's working two jobs just to pay the rent.

Like anything in life, your perspective is skewed by the lenses with which you view your immediate surroundings. When your station in life is working trade booths at sold-out boat shows, of course you're not going to see the soft underbelly of the country, which is getting softer by the day.

You can google the stats yourself; I don't have the time today to get into a long discussion on the widening gap between the "haves" and the "have nots". It's disheartening to note that the company my acquaintance works for pays the folks that push the product out the door to their high end customers $9 or $10 per hour.

And they're grateful for that.

More later.

Update, 11AM: Billmon @ Whiskey Bar has an excellent post up that ties right into my thoughts.