Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Habits

Well, another Black Friday (and most of a Gray Saturday) has come and gone. Pepper spray to be the first in line for an X-Box, huh? Well, you have to give them points for originality.

It's easy to fall into sanctimony over the unthinking consumerism that Black Friday both manages to represent and self-parody every year, but it's worth keeping in mind that unthinking non-consumerism will have some pretty serious economic consequences of its own - most of us don't make anything that qualifies as a necessity, except in the fact that it might have acquired enough First-World ubiquity that we "don't know how to live without it." (This despite the fact that we got by perfectly well for a very long time - as late as when I was in high school, if you told someone that you wanted to be a Web Designer, they would have likely quipped that the spiders were managing perfectly well on their own.)

So perhaps the moral of the story that we keep missing every year is that we need more thinking consumerism. It's nice to be enough of an aesthetic that you can sneer down your nose at someone who camps out for a week to get a cheap DVD player. But most of us don't think about what we'd say to the guy who needed to make those DVD players to feed his family. "Take up small-scale intensive farming," isn't helpful, it's glib; those skills are fairly rare and it's easy to screw it up.

In the constant race to have the best hand at Misery Poker, we spend a lot of time claiming that the people with all of the money twisted our arms, but the simple fact is that we made this bed for ourselves and we can make a new one. But, as the saying goes, "In economics, there are no solutions, only trade-offs," so until a better way is really worth something to us, there isn't going to be one.

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