Affluent Americans – defined as the top 20 percent of U.S. households by income – spent about 10 percent less in 2008 than they did in 2007, according to a study by luxury-goods researcher Unity Marketing. And those households with incomes of $250,000 or more are cutting back on spending even more than all affluent households overall. 54 percent of these consumers are spending even less in 2009 than in 2008.
Those $250,000+ earners, threatened and demonized by President Obama, are retaliating with their most powerful and damaging weapon: not spending. It is a quiet, deliberate, determined, very real resistance.
To be sure, some of the cutbacks in spending are related to investment losses, job losses and actual reduction of spending capacity. But much more has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability to spend – only with the unwillingness to spend.
Most in media do not understand the reality of this deliberately reduced and postponed spending as a political resistance movement. But that’s what it is. I’ve talked to many affluent entrepreneurs and professionals who have worked hard for years to finally reach their present income levels. They are intentionally refusing to spend money as a means of protest.
I was recently thinking about replacing my Ford Explorer with a new SUV, at minimum a new Explorer, but perhaps a Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade. The day Obama first trumpeted the proposed 5.4 percent tax surcharge on gross income of us high-productivity, high-responsibility, high income earners I changed my mind. Instead I spent $514.00 getting a little fender ding months old fixed, paint scratches touched up and the car detailed. The $30,000.00 or $40,000.00 I would have spent on the new car – and I’m a cash buyer – can sleep idly in the bank until the man who has chosen me as his target is gone. And I view it as deliberately depriving him of spending he desperately needs to help his economy. He needs me and others like me buying a new car a whole lot more than I need one.