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December 02, 2013


It does say something about human nature that we despise on Black Friday what we embrace the rest of the year. Fond as I am of being what my father called a shit disturber, I took great pleasure in pointing out on threads devoted to the highest of horse disdain for Black Friday shoppers and consumerism that demands for investment in infrastructure and pretty much all economic stimulus is intended to increase consumer demand for goods and services. Which will lead to the virtuous cycle of people being hired to make more things for consumers to consume.

There is, of course a cure for this rampant consumerism and it uses consumerism against itself. Instead of hitting an inflation target the Fed need only institute policies that lead to deflation. That'll cure consumerism right quick.

Peter, you're right of course in pointing out the pain involved in any transition from consumerism to redistributionism. But it's either some fundamental movement toward fairer distribution or, sooner or later, a total collapse of the capitalist system, which, through its naturally increasing concentrations of wealth, is inevitable.

Consumerism may be a tiger ride. Where do we end up, inside the tiger or in a bright shining future?

And I agree with you wholeheartedly. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with capitalism. It is without question the very best system humanity has ever found for creating wealth in the form goods and services when properly regulated. What it does not do effectively is distribute wealth. But that's okay too because humanity's greatest invention, government, is the only way to do that no matter what economic system you use. There is not now nor has there ever been any economic system that on its own equitably distributes wealth.

I cannot say that I see a distinction between consumerism and distributionalism when the whole point of distributing is to permit more equitable consumption.

Still I agree with you that the trends toward needing fewer and fewer actual people to produce goods leaves us with something of a problem of what to have everybody else doing to earn a reasonable living. So we need some way like government taxation to do that. To quote one of my literary heroes, Major ____ de Coverley from Cath 22, give everybody eat!

@Peter G: We like to shop but hate Black Friday for the same reason we like to fly but hate to fly on Thanksgiving weekend.

I know it was a typo, but "Cath 22" sounds like "Catch-22" set in a hospital.

It was my less than nimble fingers RT.
I got into quite an argument some of the more angry progressive crowd when I merely asked why they thought retailers were stretching opening times to previously unseen limits. Greed it was asserted. Simple Greed.

I felt compelled to point out that brick and mortar retailers have a bit of a problem these days. They don't just compete with each other . They also compete against on line retailers open seven days a week with little in the way of overhead or employee costs compared to more conventional stores. One third of all holiday sales this year will go to online retailers. Based on current trends I suspect that retail workers who are complaining of working holidays will soon enough have all the time they will need to spend with their families while they look for alternative employment. You'd be surprised how many people take these little observations of mine as delightful concurrence in what is really a slow motion tragedy.

Trashing consumerism has become a seasonal tradition in both your country and mine. But it has an opposite bookend that truly closes the Holiday season. Some time around mid-January we will receive the somber tidings of all the retailers who did not make it into the black on Black Friday or shortly thereafter and have gone bankrupt in consequence. Taking thousands of retail jobs down with them.

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