I’m no economist, but I think I have an answer to the question Erin Burnett, the 32-year-old CNBC anchor whom the channel regards as its “ultimate growth stock,” asked just now on MSNBC.

After talking about yesterday’s front page New York Times piece (“Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt,” which begins: “The collection agencies call at least 20 times a day. For a little quiet, Diane McLeod stashes her phone in the dishwasher”) Burnett asked:

Now that I’ve raised all the negative question marks…If Americans are so grim about their future, why then did they set the record for a Hollywood opening [Batman] this weekend? $155 million?

Can you think of a better way to avoid (perchance, to forget about) those 20 daily calls from collection agencies than sitting in an air-conditioned theater on a hot July day watching Christian Bale? (Which is about how MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski responded to Burnett:”A bad economy, going to the movies is all you can do, although that’s expensive.”)

Then Joe Scarborough chimed in:

No, no, Erin, you bring up a great point. We hear about how horrific the economy is. Americans are spending more money than ever before on entertainment. We were doing reports about how horrific the economy was the same morning we were showing long lines wrapped around the block of Apple stores across America. People going out, millions of people spending over $200 million for a toy when they could get a cell phone for $15…

What are those collection agencies calling about, anyway?

Ends today: If you'd like to help CJR and win a chance at one of
10 free print subscriptions, take a brief survey for us here.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.