Aid the economy: Buy your man underwear for Christmas

  • By Linda Bryant Smith Herald Columnist
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3:03pm
  • Life

If you’d like to do your share in helping our economy recover, here’s an idea: Give the men in your life underpants.

Go out on this major holiday shopping weekend and buy the guys some tightie whities or bodacious boxers.

No, this old gal’s not totally wacko.

I have a logical line of reasoning based on economic forecasting secrets of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. He’s currently advising President-elect Barack Obama on the nation’s financial crisis.

Greenspan’s secret was revealed in an interview on National Public Radio to NPR’s science correspondent Robert Krulwich. Krulwich, by the way, has been an economic correspondent to the major television networks and has interviewed Greenspan many times through the years.

Krulwich reported that Greenspan favored “keeping his ear to the ground trying to figure out what people were really up to.”

According to Krulwich, Greenspan told him that if you think about all the undergarments in a household, the one that is most private is the male underpant because nobody sees them except the guys in the locker room … so who cares.

“Your children need clothes. Your wife needs clothes that have to change. The children grow. You need clothes on the outside. But the last purchase that you don’t have to make is men’s underpants.” Greenspan reportedly said.

“If you look at the sales of men’s underpants, it’s just pretty much a flat line, it hardly ever changes. But on those few occasions where it dips, that means that men are so pinched that they are deciding not to replace underpants,” Greenspan told Krulwich.

That dip, Krulwich reported, was interpreted as “here comes trouble.”

Well, trouble’s been here for a while.

But just suppose there was a sudden upswing in the sale of men’s underpants from the low-cost aisle of plastic-encased white wear at Walmart to the silk designer boxers at Neiman Marcus?

Obviously, boosting the economy was on the governor of Alaska’s mind when she bought silk boxers for the “first dude” on her pre-election $150,000 shopping spree.

So, as the rest of us follow suit, improving the economy one pair (your choice of fabric) at a time, sales would show a spike.

Voila! A new trend.

And then as this trend is passed along to the media by economic experts it will be reported over and over in the 24-hour news cycle as a sure sign recovery is under way.

The initial rush of breaking news will be followed by fashion experts on talk shows explaining the do’s and don’ts of proper undergarments for men.

The women of “The View” will debate boxers or briefs, silk or cotton.

Michael Jordan will smile that sly smile as newspaper and TV news buzzes about his latest commercial for Hanes.

Bankers should put at least some of the billions in bailout bucks the feds gave them back into circulation. New companies could acquire start-up funding. Established companies would begin rehiring.

Imagine picking up the business section of The Herald to see this headline: “Underpants lead the way to economic recovery in America.”

Well, maybe not exactly those words, but you get my drift.

My sons will tell you that I also have used underwear as Christmas gift subterfuge.

My three children were the rambunctious kind who liked to stack, sort and count their presents. Woe to me if one had more in his or her stack than the others. So I bought and wrapped new underwear, socks and pajamas as gifts to bulk up their piles.

They have never forgiven me.

As recently as last Christmas this was the topic of conversation as grandchildren opened gift after gift.

“When I was young, my mother gave me underwear for Christmas,” oldest son said. “See how lucky you are to get real presents.”


I think that big boy could use some boxers for Christmas.

I’ll wrap each package beautifully (recycled paper from last year, of course) and enclose a card: “Love from Mom and the president-elect’s economic recovery team.”

Buy underwear this holiday season. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

Linda Bryant Smith writes about growing older, surviving and finding a little gold in the golden years.You can reach her at

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