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"The High Cost of Discount Culture" (Encore presentation)

By Rich Fisher


Tulsa, Oklahoma – (Please note: This show originally aired in July of this year.) On our show today, we offer an engaging and topical discussion with Ellen Ruppel Shell, a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly who's also written for Discover, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, and other publications. Shell has an interesting new book out --- recently issued in paperback --- called "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture." Journalistically, historically, personally, anecdotally --- and even psychologically --- this book explores our culture's long-running obsession with discounts, sales, bargains, and low-lower-lowest prices. Why are Americans so fixated on getting things, as it were, on the cheap? This smart, entertaining book sets out to answer that question. In "Cheap," Shell describes how this sort of thinking (and this type of behavior) has created a society marked by shoddy wares, disposable goods, economic instability, built-in obsolescence, and environmental chaos. As critic Laura Shapiro has noted in The New York Times: "Shell doesn't conclude [this book] with any grand ideas for reshaping the world's economy.... But she doesn't need to formulate grand ideas here. She's delivered something much more valuable: a first-rate job of reporting and analysis. Pay full price for this book, if you can stand to. It's worth it." It's no surprise that another critic, writing for Kirkus Reviews, has compared "Cheap" to books like "Fast Food Nation" and "Silent Spring."