And Yet Again: Black Friday

It’s time for my annual “Black Friday” post, as per the past couple of years! If only those with ears could hear!!

I have posted this piece before, but in light of the fact that we now have a mega-holiday that a character in one of the comics I enjoy calls “Hallothanksmas,” and given also that advertisers are now calling November “Black Friday Month,” it seems especially appropriate since we are about to see the ugly face of commodified Christmas once again. The more things change the more they stay the same! I have added a few pithy comments to this version.

The headline read “Woman pepper sprays other Black Friday shoppers.” In an effort to have a better chance to get at the cheap electronics Walmart was using as a lure to get shoppers jump-started this holiday season, a woman pepper sprayed about 20 customers who were in her way. Except for the talking heads on Fox News who think this is perfectly acceptable behavior, everyone is in a dither — but for many of the wrong reasons. Out-of-control shoppers are a worry, but the whole marketing ploy that begins before Thanksgiving [Halloween?] is the larger problem.

We do live in a commodified culture, as Robert Heilbroner told us many years ago, but our values are clearly out of kilter when money and the things that money can buy become the main focus of an entire nation at a time when the theme should be “peace On Earth.” If we take a commodified culture preoccupied with possession of things, combine it with an immense advertising machine that works buyers into a frenzy prior to Thanksgiving, it is no wonder that things like this happen. We shouldn’t be surprised; clearly things are out of focus when money becomes the center of one’s life. Citizens who bother to go to the voting booth any more are there to turn around a weak economy, tighten the purse strings. That has been the rule for some time now: vote out the bastards who are taking money out of my pocket; when you retire move somewhere where the taxes are lower. The real issues, like the spread of nuclear weapons (25,000 world-wide at last count) and the damage we are doing to the environment in our determination to raise our already obscenely high standard of living, are largely ignored.

Christmas should, of course, be a time for reflection and thought about others. In this country, and other “developed” countries around the world, it has become a time to get that 30% of the yearly profits that keep the engines of commerce running. It is understandable, since business has become the cornerstone of our culture. But is it necessary to point out that the ideals of business are antithetical to the ideals of the one whose birth we presumably celebrate next month? The fact that a woman in California would pepper-spray her way to the cheap electronics in Walmart is simply a sign of the times and a clear indication that we need to rethink our priorities. But we won’t.


10 thoughts on “And Yet Again: Black Friday

  1. ‘ Business has become the cornerstone of civilisation ‘ that is the key to understanding the global situation. The Abba song ‘ Money money in a rich man’s world ‘ puts the problem in a nut shell.

  2. Thank you, Hugh. I’ve been saying lately that “greatness isn’t free,” a play on the ubiquitous slogan “freedom isn’t free.” It’s in regard to taxes, similar to what you mention about our tendency to vote for politicians who promise to lower taxes and also to move to locations where taxes are lower.

    In what I presume is one of those eras when America was “great” that Trump supporters seem to appropriate, most of the 1950s, early 1960s, they should remember that there were something like 13 tax brackets of 60 percent or higher and, for a time, a 91-percent tax bracket. The taxes gave many more Americans opportunities they never had before — the GI Bill, for instance, sending millions to college — paid for sweeping advances in infrastructure, new public buildings, medical and science advances. And the standard of living and quality of life went up(!) for many Americans. We invested in one another. Not hoarded for ourselves.

  3. Very well done….yet again. I know a couple in their 80s who survived the recent Paradise, California fire with only their dog. Their attitude was we have everything that is really important. Many of our neighbors do not. May we appreciate the basics more and learn to share our abundance.

    • Good to hear from you again, my friend! We hear how generous and happy those who have little are. Having “stuff” is not the answer. Loving others and appreciating what we have, no matter how little, may be.

  4. Hugh, everything seems to focus on selling. Since you wrote this, we now have a President who focuses on selling, everything being short-term transactional, in nature. Even when the short term contradicts long term profits, relationships or human rights or values.
    This new holiday epitomizes Trump. Shallow, with little substance. Even his insincere focus on Merry Christmas has a transactional bent as he is pandering. Keith

    • Short term self-interest. That’s not peculiar to our leader. It’s the business mentality (sorry) which permeates every corner of our culture including education and medicine.

  5. Pingback: Thoughts on Black Friday, Why, Oh Why Lord?

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