‘$14 Trillion Spent Annually on Trying to Look Cool’

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“A report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Commerce revealed that Americans spend an astonishing $14 trillion a year on countless, usually failed attempts to look cool. Looking cool, which the report defines as ‘the outward projection of an appealing and often enviable image of oneself that others perceive as requiring little to no effort,’ appears to be a nationwide obsession.”

The Onion has some fun with the alarming-consumer-behavior-revealed-through-statistics news story genre, and while the story is of course totally made up and meant as a goof, there’s actually a valid point here.

Some more from this hard-hitting piece of reportage:

To put this into perspective, the amount Americans spend on cool looking haircuts is nearly 15 times greater than the total amount spent on cancer research,” said Eric Gerhardt, noted economist and lead author of the report. “Whether it’s name-brand sneakers, an all-in-one espresso maker, or a pair of hip and stylish Ray-Ban sunglasses, we devote tremendous resources each year toward our conspicuous attempts at stature enhancement.”

“It’s pretty much an epidemic at this point,” the 52-year-old professor added before pausing momentarily to adjust a small gold earring in his freshly pierced earlobe.

The report found that, in all 50 states, efforts to appear cool accounted for a greater portion of household expenditures than career training, doctor visits, and childcare combined.