Book review: In Cheap We Trust
Weber weaves together a narrative tracing the tidal motion of our love/hate affair with cheapness, tracing it all the way back to the founding of the nation. She brings to life a number of interesting characters to illustrate the duality. Standing in for the excesses of cheapness is Hetty Green, which the Guinness Book termed the world's great miser-- her son lost a leg because she insisted on finding a free clinic, although she was a millionaire. Henry Ford makes an appearance as an advocate of spending, exhorting young men to "Spend your money on yourself; get all the experience you can. Don't try to save and be a miser."
Eventually Weber brings the question of cheapness back to her own life, and at that point the book takes a misstep into the fringe realms of dumpster diving and freeganism. Those who share her values of minimal consumption will find her personal journey familiar; those who don't might find her arguments lack an appreciation for alternate views.
Weber's writes beautifully, and In Cheap We Trust gives a comprehensive look at the concept of cheapness in the U.S. Since the book retails for $24.99, perhaps the author won't be too upset if I were to suggest checking your local library for a copy.