by The Other Katherine Harris
Nov. 24, 2007
Nov. 24, 2007 – Yesterday, on what should be observed as a national day of sateity after Thanksgiving’s excess, a woman mere weeks away from certain unemployment went, with her holiday dinner still not fully digested, out to shop in the wee hours of the morning. As an AP writer reported:
‘I’m really looking for the bargains this year because I’m losing my job; they’re moving our plant to Mexico after the first of the year, so I have to be careful,’ said Tina Dillow of New Richmond, Ohio, who camped out at a Best Buy store near Cincinnati at 3 a.m. because of a great deal on a laptop….
I’d call that stone-crazy, not “careful”– Tina’s handing a wad of her last assured, albeit rapidly depreciating, dollars to a company known for funding Republican politicians bent on driving American workers to ruin — but then I didn’t shop at all. Not even to buy into the outdated one-note tune of the annual “Buy Nothing Day” campaign.
The notion of purchasing zilch on Black Friday, instead of launching an orgy of holiday shopping, began as an environmental pitch about 15 years ago. Although it was based on guilt-tripping North Americans for consuming more than our fair share, quite a few Brits participate, too. The event is still being sold in the same “shame on you” manner, as witness the current video depicting our continent as a bloated, belching pig and asking us to “give it a rest” for 24 hours.
Surely, now that so many of us realize the real culprit is a system rigged against us as much as against anybody else, we need to place the blame for environmental destruction and socioeconomic injustice where it honestly belongs. And we need to do heaps more about it than stage a one-day sulk.
But what? A sweeping Christmas Shopping Boycott has been pledged by those affiliated with We’re Not Buyin’ It. Their website shows a sophisticated understanding of the problem, but offers few specifics about retailers to avoid or favor, if you need to buy something not produced locally.
Obviously we should give a miss to the “big box” discount stores that have undermined the relative self-sufficiency and landscapes of countless communities and are even sabotaging all plans for heightened port security. Among these, Wal-Mart and Target are worst-of-the-worst.
Also worth shunning are shops owned by private equity raiders, now gnawing their knuckles in fear of poor holiday sales, after overburdening the companies with debt attached to the acquisitions. In many cases, they also plundered the firms’ retirement accounts and lowered wages, too. Yes, jobs are on the line and investors include not only hedge funds and the ultra-rich, but also the innocently stupid. However, these jobs and holdings are already rendered almost valueless, so we might as well make scoundrels suffer with the rest of us from the crisis their avaricious trade and monetary policies have sparked, by avoiding Toys ‘r Us, Michael’s, Mervyn’s, Dollar General, PetCo, Claire’s, GNC, Burlington Coat Factory, Jimmy Choo, Boots the Chemist and any others we can determine are in this category. Whatever they rake in will go first to the raiders and then the companies will go to hell, anyway. The next round of our economic meltdown, experts say, is coming from that quarter. Right, atop the existing Mortgage Meltdown, Credit Collapse and Dollar Dive, we can look forward to considerable fallout from Buyout Blowup.
Just how bad things are going to get still remains anybody’s guess, but forecasts of another Great Depression aren’t thin on the ground — and it could be worse, given rocketing energy and food costs, plus massive accumulated debt, the paucity of nearby sources for essentials and patterns of residential development that increased oil dependency and produced grillions of oversized homes not even sited for solar gain.
Let’s face it, just about everything done for decades has been done dead-wrong, to serve the greed of those who did it to us while we weren’t paying attention. And plenty of folks who packed the malls yesterday — such as Tina Dillow — are still stumbling around in need of what Reverend Billy might call a Clue-Allujah.
Bill Talen takes a singularly engaging approach to the urgent task of rousing the Walking Brain-Dead. To my mind, his Church of Stop Shopping is a rare shiny spot in the miasma of misery lying around us and ahead. With luck, his new film — “What Would Jesus Buy?” (produced by Morgan Spurlock of “Super Size Me” fame) — will do for the cause of economic sanity what “Sicko” did for the healthcare debate.
Significantly, he and his followers — now including a big gospel choir and a band — don’t hold shoppers responsible for their plight. They rightly trace the trance into which we’ve fallen to mainstream media, working on behalf of their transnational masters. Beyond that, as their excellent website attests, they’ve grasped the links among media moguls, sweatshop manufacturers, manipulative financiers, militarism and increasingly authoritarian government, dumbed-down education, pernicious developers, gentrification and all the rest. The message of Shopocalpyse, in case you thought it might be, isn’t fluff-stuff.
We who came to the same understandings via earnest blogs and academic writings could stand to lighten up and check out their carols for such charmers as “Pack the Malls with folks with money …’Tis the season to be dummies” and (to the tune of “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen”) “We’re pushed to buying plastic things and many useless treats, while hungry ones and homeless folks are living on the streets. And CEOs’ fat bank accounts continue to increase…”
Better to croon a subversive stanza than curse the Muzak, eh? Either way, a month of holiday melody is upon us, even if we wisely tune out the MSM hypnosis machine, resist making insane purchases and buy only from our neighbors for a change.
Conserving financial resources and strengthening local economies really need to be top priorities now. Simply getting by may hinge on how well we do these things, once the sales-inducing Ho-Hos fade and the reality of a recession (or depression) year sets in.
What Would Jesus Buy Trailer: