Don't worry, be happy, buy a flat-screen TV

Gas prices got you down? House in foreclosure? Who cares? Your new television is awesome!

Published August 22, 2008 1:27PM (EDT)

How are Americans insulating themselves from high energy prices, a lousy economy, the threat of foreclosure and their newfound, emasculating inability to get away from it all in a gargantuan SUV?

Simple! They're curling up in front of their brand-new flat-screen TV!

At least, that's what figures from one market research firm appear to indicate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Texas-based research firm DisplaySearch said overall television shipments world-wide rose 11 percent in the second quarter ended June 30 from a year earlier, helped by particularly strong growth in North America, where shipments jumped 28 percent.

Frankly, How the World Works is stunned. Because readers will recall that the second quarter of 2008 is precisely when the U.S. government distributed the bulk of its economic stimulus checks. And while preliminary data indicate that most Americans socked away the cash or used it to pay down debt, apparently not everyone felt compelled to be so prudent.

As I wrote in February:

It is the clear intention of Congress and the White House that all patriotic Americans promptly cash those checks and spend 'em, thus boosting aggregate demand in the economy, and warding off the oncoming recession.

But before we all run out to Best Buy in search of that HD flat-screen TV we've been lusting after ...

I mean, really, the whole "Don't spend your stimulus check on a flat-screen TV" was practically a cliché! Everybody who covered the fiscal stimulus story indulged in it! But that doesn't mean we expected it to happen.

Now someone needs to do a nice cost-benefit analysis to measure how much the electricity consumed by these new TVs compares with the gas saved by not leaving the house while mesmerized by the best television resolution in human history.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization Great Recession How The World Works