Archive for the ‘crisis’ Category

Shame on Dr. Phil

March 3, 2009

…for his questionable advice to families on how to responsibly save your money during this economic recession. Time and again, Dr. Phil’s favorite mantra is “don’t buy it if you can’t afford it.” Sounds good and helpful in theory, especially in these treacherous times. But today, I think his lesson took a rather disturbing turn.

It began with suggestions on how families can still have fun on a tight budget. They seemed harmless and friendly enough: board games, bowling, backyard camping, miniature golf.

I want to be clear, I do understand the need to save money right now.  Now is the time to be responsible and conscious of our actions, not recklessly spending our fast disappearing money.

But my question is, where in these “family fun time suggestions” do we find Culture? Education? Exposure to the world? Nowhere, for Dr. Phil  labels such things as trips to a museum as unrealistic luxuries.

Now of course, museums have become increasingly more expensive and sadly, more unrealistic for many families. Working and middle class families, by their economic nature, struggle for what they have. They struggle in order to keep their homes and feed their children. But also, to give their children the possibility and hope of a better life. The hope and dream that their child will someday have the chance, the opportunity to visit museums, learn about history and admire works of art.

But Dr. Phil didn’t encourage that dream. His attitude, and the attitude of his guests, was to cheerfully put aside thoughts of museum trips…and gear up for nights at the bowling alley.

Even worse, Dr. Phil’s guests gleefully speak of finding excellent bargain foods and cheaper jeans at, what else, the ubiquitous WalMart. Dr. Phil shouts the praises of his grand establishment because they are kind enough to carry his book. Nevermind WalMart is more than notorious for exploiting its workers and carrying products made my underpaid Chinese labor. Such as those fabulously inexpensive lead-based toys that ended up killing our children (but at least we saved money right?).

Don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing bowling nor scoffing at people for wisely trying to save during these difficult economic times. I’m saying our children deserve the chance to have choices. Bowling one day, maybe museum the next (Dr. Phil neglected to mention local Museums outside the cities that are just as enjoyable and much less costly). 

And what of those other “family fun suggestions?” Well, I’m sure families living in Brooklyn or Queens would be all too thrilled with the concept of backyard camping…

What I’m saying is, our government, and our society have failed us. The wealth of our nation is distributed to a wealthy few (which, heh, include our own Dr. Phil) and kept away from the working and middle classes, who must continue to struggle in the supposedly richest nation in the world.

We should be annoyedthat our children can’t visit the dinosaurs at The Museum of Natural History or the Temple of Dendur at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We should be encouraging them to visit their local libraries and get a love of literature and art. Not merrily settling for weekends at the bowling alley. But then, Dr. Phil doesn’t have to worry about that, does he?

I don’t think Dr.Phil means any harm, I think he’s honestly trying to provide a service to families during this crisis. But, as my own father put it, he should be fighting for economic justice, not just teaching us how to be contented cogs in the wheel.

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