Friday, November 23, 2012
Black Friday: A Capitalist Tradition that I really, really dislike
This morning I got up, made some coffee, built a nice crackling fire and enjoyed a quiet hour or so reading the newspaper and visiting with my youngest son.
I spent this afternoon playing in an airsoft gun war in my backyard with both of my boys and their good friend from down the road. After airsoft we played football. After football I went up into my game room, watched some college football, took a really peaceful nap and then spent the evening playing ping pong and visiting with my family some more.
Oh, I also ate some great leftovers - compliments of our dear friends here in our little town - watched some Andy Griffith Show reruns and...well, you get the idea...
What I did not do was join the complete and total insanity that is called "Black Friday". Let me be clear...
Living in Florida, where people would just as soon shoot a gun or their middle finger at you on a normal day, is just about the last place in the world you want to be when Wal-Mart is having a sale on DVD players.
I saw on the news today where some complete idiot got arrested for leaving his infant child in the car while he joined in the trampling and steep discounts at some electronics store. I saw other upteen thousand people storm into a store like it was the running of the bulls. In this case it was the running of the credit cards.
Assuming that there were very few atheists, Muslims or Jews mingled in with the herds of shoppers, it would be safe to assume most of these folks were stomping on each other, kicking and screaming in preparation of the celebration of Jesus' birth.
How painfully ironic, isn't it? The man who taught the world about modesty, giving, love and sacrifice now has to watch as Americans all over the place try to kill one another in order to save 22% on some doll dressed like a prostitute.
I never - I mean NEVER - go Christmas shopping after about July 1st. I have in a large room in my house some storage bins marked "gifts" (don't try to steal them, they were mostly garage sale finds...) and a clipboard hidden from my family that is neatly broken into the names of family and friends, their birthdates and the occasion on which their name will be checked off and their gift given.
I look for bargains - community garage sales (where I am the first one into the gated community to buy the stuff spoiled rich people get rid of), thrift stores, Ebay, Craigslist, relatively clean dumpters and the occasional store that I buy only when prices are 80 - 123% off the normal discounted price.
Right now, on my clipboard, is one gift marked for my oldest son. The heading above the gift? Christmas 2016. That's right. I have projected his height and weight and have a jump start on Christmas 1,200 and something days from now. He will be quite pleased, I am sure.
One horrible thing about Black Friday is that it gives people who hate capitalism (see Obama voters) some incredible room to say, "See, these dirty, profit grabbing, selfish, rich so and sos are making their workers come in to work on Thanksgiving and forcing people to leave their cranberry sauce early in order to fight like animals in the African plains to save money on Chinese pajamas"!!!
Hmmm... Do they have a point?
One thing you learn early as an economist is that supply creates demand. That means that first, the executives at stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy sit around in their nice suits and say, "Hey Chuck, do you think people would like to come in to our store and buy horror movie DVDS for their pre-school children at 8PM Thanksgiving, rather than wait, with their kids in the car, until Midnight"
"Gee, Bob, it is worth a shot, isn't it? Let's give it a try!!"
"Chuck, what about our employees? Do you think they will mind working Thanksgiving night?"
"To H.... with them! If they want a job, they will show up."
So they open at 8PM, their $8 per hour workers leave their Thanksgiving dinner early, or eat it earlier, and customers (not me) prepare to stampede one another four hours earlier than last year. If it is a success, next year it will be 7PM. 20 years from now Black Friday will be a week before Halloween.
Before some of you think I have gone over to the dark side and joined whining Socialists everywhere, let me say this.
First, the stores have a right to open whenever they want. Private property, dude.
Second, the workers don't have to keep working at Wal-Mart. They could go to work at some store that closes on Thanksgiving every year. Pursuit of, not guarantee of, happiness, o.k?
Finally, if this is so terrible then customers have to be the ones to say, "Enough!" If they love shopping more than eating their third plate of mashed potatoes, so be it. Freedom, remember?
Fourth, you will never see me partake in this awful illustration of Capitalism at its best/worst. I will be at home, relaxing and shaking my head at the maniac I just saw on Youtube hitting someone with a chair in order to get the next kid's toy that he will give to celebrate Jesus's birthday.
Have a great December! With God's blessing I will be back next year - just in time to fall off the "Fiscal Cliff" with all the rest of you taxpayers...