Thursday, November 27, 2008

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a good deal.


Like so many other A-merry-cans, my life is full of contradictions. I like nice clothes, but I hate crass commercialism. I consider myself a world citizen, but I am not crazy about NAFTA and I think it's better to buy A-merry-can. And speaking of buying A-merry-can; I have a lot of empathy for the A-merry-can auto worker and the folks in Detroit, but I drive a foreign car. I wish my government would do more for those who are less fortunate than the rest of us, yet I bitch and moan come tax time. So yes, I consider myself somewhat of a hypocrite, but I am not alone.


Tomorrow is Black Friday, and we A-merry-cans will once again give in to the lure of crass commercialism because of our thirst for all things material. What recession? And if there is one is this how we fight it? We will be swiping our credit cards and buying on credit right up until Christmas Eve, because god forbid little Johny and Tyrone don't get those play stations, and those little motorized toy cars they always wanted. I always wondered what it was about A-merry-ca that made us embrace commercialism so much. It is the one ism that I guarantee you will be with us right until the end of the republic.


Any challenge to A-merry-ca's spirit of consumerism will always fail. Think Prohibition, Puritanism,Ralph Nader's consumer rights movement, and even the Socialist loving radical counter culture of the sixties; they all went down. Nothing, not the depression, not the gloomy seventies, and not the frat boy's recession prevented or will prevent A-merry-cans from being materialistic. Materialism is the A-merry-can way. It's why the frat boy told us to go out and shop after 911. Let those crazy ass Muslims kill themselves and blow up buildings, we A-merry-cans will just keep rocking our "True Religion" jeans and our Nike's, it's what we do.


This is how your worth is judged in A-merry-ca. By how many things you have, and who designed them. Not by what type of person you are.


Many A-merry-cans (including Mrs. Field, no clean hands in this family) will be out at the crack of dawn. They will be trying to load up on their already large stash of material things, all because the smart retailers were able to figure out that if you mark something up 100%, and then mark it down 50% from that, the deal loving A-merry-cans will bite. If you think I am lying try to get into any popular retail store tomorrow and do a little shopping. I guarantee you that it will be one of the worst experiences you will ever have. But, as is always the case, you will probably try to talk yourself into thinking that it was all worth it. After all, you wouldn't be a real A-merry-can if you didn't.






45 comments:

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I think that there is a lot of emotional baggage associated with the way people handle their money.

There are people who want to prove to others "I am just AS GOOD AS you are!" and so they want to own the same type of home, buy their children the same brands of clothing, send their children to the same schools.

They tie their sense of "equality" and "worth" to what they can afford that others have.

This is why we will see a brand new Escalade (bought at a ridiculously high interest rate at a payday car lot) in front of a dinky home where the family is eating with food stamps.

This is why we see parents signing their children up for the free lunch program at school, saying that they can not afford to pay for food in their own kid's mouth...and yet they are buying their children $200 sneakers to wear to school.

How many people in the office gather at the coffee pot and discuss what they are buying their children as gifts...and usually THAT is all about one upmanship really.

What about the parents who buy a battery-powered Porsche for a toddler? Is it REALLY for the child? Why does it have to be a mini-Porsche then? It's all about the emotional emptiness of the parent and the statement that parents feels a need to make to others...

We need to address what is broken WITHIN and then we will be able to address the broken bank account.

classical one said...

Being a poor graduate student I won't be out doing my patriotic duty and spending tomorrow.
But considering consumer spending is what.. 70% or more of GDP.. how long can that go on? If people don't go out and spend themselves into a hole, the economy collapses and that's not including the strain on the environment and social relations etc.
We need a real transformation of our economy and our ideals.

marci said...

it doesn't have to be this way field...people should think more - commercialism is something we as a people suck up with gusto.. people like p-diddy have some of us picking his cotton and paying for the pleasure of it.. he is the modern day 'massa' and it should give people pause for thought... i am king - king my ass! smh...
celebrate thanks giving by giving back..
happy holidays to you and yours field...

grinder said...

Any challenge to A-merry-ca's spirit of consumerism will always fail. Think Prohibition, Puritanism,Ralph Nader's consumer rights movement, and even the Socialist loving radical counter culture of the sixties; they all went down. Nothing, not the depression, not the gloomy seventies, and not the frat boy's recession prevented or will prevent A-merry-cans from being materialistic.

True enough, but this year the expectation is for a 3% nominal drop in Christmas spending, which means closer to 6-7% after inflation. If the forecast comes true, it will be the first nominal decline in Christmas spending since that statistic began to be collected, which was several decades ago.

Shortly after Christmas, a bunch of retailers will be going backrupt. For more good news, check into this authoritative blog.

Bob said...

In college, I worked a black Friday at Macy's. I was stocking a Christmas wrapping sales display near a doorway. The boss said, whether you're finished or not, get yourself off the floor before the store opens, go drink coffee for awhile. Well, I didn't notice the thousand women outside the door & I was still stocking when the doors were unlocked. They came at me in a mob grabbing wrapping out of my hands, pushing at me. I struggled through the crowd, went to the lunchroom, the boss was there reading a newspaper, took one look at me & said, "I warned you."

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grinder said...

By the way, I have never understood why someone would go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving unless they absolutely had to.

JJ said...

FN,
Net-Worth does not equal Self-Worth. Look at Donald Trump or Rosie...Do you think their self-esteem match their money?

Americans need to get an inner life.

marci said...

i feel for the workers whose contacts stipulate the work on these days and who do not get a holiday... i cleared out of retail where i had a great career when these laws were passed in the uk for the sake of my family and sanity.. i do not shop on holiday days.. i cannot bring myself to shop over the christmas period, easter, bank holidays for food even.. my shopping is done in advance and i can relax.. my mother still does the same.. it is a shame we are being constantly driven to shop, shop, shop til we drop.. it shows a complete disregard to families and their wallets.. other religions observe their holidays for the most part.. why have the 'christian' holidays become a crass consumer spending fest?? and on topof that i have just heard our west end shops are opening from 07:00 from today... poor souls are being worked to the bone.. this is a hideous state of affairs...

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I agree with you Field.

The holidays over here seem to be more about food. The supermarkets are packed with special cakes.

The only Christmas commercial I've seen on TV is a "Buon Natale" one from Coke. That's it. No Black Friday, window displays/lights are just going up and there will be a big market/ferris wheel in Piazza Navona.

My Caribbean family never went overboard with the gifts, only the food. As an American teen I was annoyed. I wanted Guess jeans, like my classmates.

Now as an adult I appreciate what values they were trying to instill.

Man I miss my mom's coconut tarts and carrot cakes.

Biz said...

i will probably by about 6 holiday presents this year, and they will all be purchased online at etsy.com. i have absolutely no tolerance for the american way of christmas shopping.

plus, i am one of those who have been greatly affected by the unemployment rate. i've been looking for a full year and have been working part-time waiting tables.

Christopher said...

We watched the former CourtTV, now TruTV, for a half hour last night.

The program was called, "Stupid Shoppers." It was all about what happens to the behavior of regular people when they're confronted by a department store sale.

They turn into crazed animals.

One segment showed people at a department store lined up for this weird-ass toy called Tickle Me Elmo. When the doors opened, they were pushing and shoving and knocking each other down faster than Hillary Clinton pushed her way to the senate floor to vote for Bush's Iraq war. Another segment showed people lined up to buy used notebook computers from a school. An older woman was injured in the melee and had to be taken away by an ambulance. One segment showed all these heffas blasting into a store to buy discounted bridal gowns. Honey, these women were like hungry hyenas and they left nothing on the bone.

I don't get it. You won't see me on a cold morning at a department store. The only thing that would light a fire under my lazy ass is if they said they were giving away keys to a free house in Malibu, CA. Then look out, cuz if you get in my way I'll cut ya.'

But a used notebook? Puhleeze!

honeyindigo said...

what a great post field...so true.

i won't be spending my pennies on anything but what's neccessary this year and next, and black friday is something i've never participated in. and this holiday season is the perfect time to teach my girls that what you have doesn't determine who you are.

they will be having a simple christmas this year. last year i got sucked into the commercialism of it all and spent (aka wasted) 500.00 on my girls...they don't even REMEMBER what they got last year, let alone took care of it!

so this year, it's ebay for used electronics and the toystore for 3 dolls. and merry christmas!

we do need to understand that our worth is not counted in dollars and cents and what we have, but by who we are.

it can be a hard lesson to learn and remember, but it's oh so true.

Jody said...

I am thankful that my family has seen this time of year more as a time to spend with each other.... good food, laughter, catching up with each other's lives.....
I find the hyper-consumerism that swirls around me shallow and hollow. Give me a room full of laughter, good friends and family, sharing a meal and each other's company. Now THAT's a gift!
I have trended to the Quaker philosophy of simplicity.... live simply so that others may simply live. That does not mean live deprived. It just means, for me, to strive for simple elegance. That is easier done when you do not care what others think of your lifestyle and "things".
Besides, we are just visiting the planet and when we leave, we go out the same way we came in, the only thing you take with you are the love and memories. Spend time with any dying person.... none I have ever seen were talking about their "stuff" or wished they had worked more. To a person, they were talking about the people in their lives... thinking about the love they had for them, and wanting them to know it before they went.

Jennifer said...

call me unpatriotic...

I did all my shopping last week. And it wasn't much. But the kid's getting a bike and that's all that matters this year.

wanna be patriotic? Go through all your shit, give away the stuff you don't need, and then go buy a coat for a kid, a toy for a kid, and some canned goods for a kid. There are entirely too many kids in this country that are still going cold and hungry. This year is going to be a year to forget for a lot of folks.

Anonymous said...

I told my sister-in-law not to buy me and my family any gifts this year (they're almost completely broke, house in disrepair, cars not working), and she acted like I asked her to run down the street naked (hint hint, Field).
Folks' self-worth is tied up in what they can buy and display for others to envy, and it will take a long time for the tide to turn on that (if ever).

field negro said...

I am enjoying my day at home while Mrs. Field and her sister play bumper person with her fellow shoppers.

And I agree with what most of you said. The commercial aspect of our existence is a little much.

Damn Bob! Thanks for that story. It's too funy. Although I know it wasn't funny to you back then.

"Americans need to get an inner life."

JJ,I agree with you, but we have so many distractions.

"I don't get it. You won't see me on a cold morning at a department store. The only thing that would light a fire under my lazy ass is if they said they were giving away keys to a free house in Malibu, CA. Then look out, cuz if you get in my way I'll cut ya.'

But a used notebook? Puhleeze!"

Co-sign 100%

BTW, anon. I checked out that site (to sign the petition not to have Beyonce sing at the inauguration)You all are a trip.:) But I bet you are not alone. Personally, I think the O man's team could have come up with some better folks. Jennifer Hudson (his home girl) comes to mind. Or, what about my homie, Jill Scott.

Christopher Chambers said...

Field, I just Twittered how I'm watching people RETURN from 5am shopping with mucho shopping bags. Yet fewer than I've seen in years past. The sales will have to continue for the retailers to survive, so why get up at 3am to feed the Chinese economy? Credit cards are up 26% for many folk. No $ in the accounts so you can't use the debit card. Irony, denial. Fox News even has gone full-propaganda and blamed the consumerism on liberals. Bush is on record from 9-11 thru a few months ago telling folk to spend-spend-spend to help the economy. Hedgefund managers buy Bentleys. Emulate your favorite rappers and indulge in conflict diamonds and rims.

Now, well...Mumbai is still smoking and CNN has just as many painted up morons covering "the mood" on Black Friday as this crazy situation in India...the Indians blaming Pakistan.

The other angle--you don't see too many men arriving at stores on Black Friday. Proving again we aren't as stupid as they say...

sharon in ct said...

I am still a poor librarian/graduate student, so I am working today, not shopping. Not that I would get within a mile of the stores even if I weren't working. For the last few years I've been making a donation to a charitable organization--Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, etc.---in the name of relatives and friends, and then sending them a note to let them know. The Christmas holidays have always been a big let-down for me--too many expectations that can't possibly be met--so I've been toning it down for several years, even when I had money. I go to church on Christmas Eve to sing a few hymns and carols and light a candle, and it usually puts me in the right mood.

blackgirlinmaine said...

I have never felt compelled to shop on Black Friday. Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was for eating and watching tv and I now do the same thing with my own kids. However we will watch the tree lighting for free in my town tonight.

The whole shopping thing freaks me out and this is from a woman who at one point had a 100 pairs of shoes. Nope, I have greatly scaled back on consumption in part because due to income drop I had no choice, now its second nature.

What scares me is the number of folks who are probably shopping who don't have two nickels to rub together but feel they must buy stuff. Its an addiction IMO.

RiPPa said...

Best believe that after losding up on all that "slave food" yesterday, Negroes are running out to the cash advance joints this morning just so they won't be left out of the madsness.

*sigh*

If only Negroes had credit cards and such. They'd be able to line up at 4am like the white folks trynna catch a deal.

Thank God for the neighborhood boosters who always come through with that 5 finger discount.

Marc B said...

Just when I was hoping this country had FINALLY realized it cannot swipe it's way to happiness at the big box retailer and we might have some voluntarily belt-tightening, gosh darn it if the hordes ain't a swarmin' and stampedin' their way to another Black Friday just like the days of yore. Everybody is a consumer, but America produces a peculiar type of consumerist glutton. I wonder sometimes if my country men's primary forms of recreation are shopping and watching TV (which only encourages more shopping.

Field, we all have contradictions. I hate raisins but love Raisin Bran.

Lisa said...

Field--riddle me this. Why do we say "belt-tightening" when we're already fat? Don't you suffer and loose the weight--THEN tighten the belt?

T. Roberts said...

Field,

The plural of terrorist is terrorists. This is something you may have already caught but my eye for such things is unfailing. BTW, I love this site!!

T. Roberts

Vostok1 said...

It's good to see capitalism finally in its death throes.

Jackson Brown said...

"Americans need to get an inner life."


And also a civic/communal life.

Black Friday, last-minute Chirstmas shopping, filing taxes at 11pm on April 15th--so many people participate in these events merely for the public spectacles associated with them.

Perhaps what we need are more ways for townspeople to get together and enjoy each other's company that don't involve such crass consumerism.

Sfd928 said...

Walmart worker trampled to death when shoppers burst through the doors this morning, taking the doors off the hinges. Really, what could be worth trampling a man to death at Walmart?
These are some sick mofos.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081128/ap_on_re_us/wal_mart_death

Christopher Chambers said...

Number 5 redeemed himself apparently. I guess he misinterpreted what "black Friday" means (like "tie") but this time with positive consequences for your Eagles.

Too little too late for this season, however.

404Kim said...

I have my poor kid trained... when we go to the grocery store, or any store for that matter, he knows to check the prices and before he drops anything in the buggy he says "Can I get this or is it too expensive?"


Also, I tell him no a lot(And not just regarding things that cost money). That way, when he asks for something and I finally say yes, he reacts like I gave him a $100 bill.

-k

nikki said...

i say let them shop. without shoppers, there'd be nothing to steal which in turn means no criminals, no people to catch those criminals, and no penal system to support those criminals.

shopping keeps the criminals occupied and that's important.

field negro said...

"Field, we all have contradictions. I hate raisins but love Raisin Bran."

Classic!

RiPPa, the "five finger discount"? Hey, we get it where we can huh.

"Walmart worker trampled to death when shoppers burst through the doors this morning, taking the doors off the hinges. Really, what could be worth trampling a man to death at Walmart?
These are some sick mofos."

Just when you think it can't get any worse...

404Kim, you should give lessons in raising children. :)

T. Roberts, good looking out; of course you are right, and that spelling has been corrected. And thanks for the kind words.

momo said...

We participated in national Do Not Shop day today. What presents I do buy this year will be purchased at local businesses that need our support to weather this tough period. No big box stores. I like the idea of going through my house and finding what things I have not used but that someone else could use if they were donated.

field negro said...

Christiphor you are right about "5" and my birds. And this is why they (the birds) are so frustrating to people here.

momo, I like that idea. I wish I could do something like that,but alas, I live with a shopoholic. I think she needs intervention. :0

grinder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grinder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
field negro said...

Biz, good luck with the job search.I hope something comes up for you soon.

This has been a tough year for a lot of people.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

I've always felt like the stores don't give the Thanksgiving Holiday time to past, before they're trying to seduce customers to buy spend their money. To me both days are days that we should be thankful just to be able to wake up and see another day, have a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. It's a lot of folks that didn't wake up or that are homeless, or hungry, or lack clothing. Why do we have to have a holiday in order for people to give and the rest of the year people practice being selfishness?

I guess being older I don't get caught up in commercialism. I'm more thankful for the little things in life that people overlook and ignore. I celebrate life, family, friends, and the beauty of nature--in essence all of God's creations.

Catnapping said...

I'm boycotting all box stores...If I can't make it or trade for it, I'm buying it second-hand.

It's time to tell the pigs who profit off the rest of us to go to hell.

Capitalism is immoral. It is not the natural way for human beings. We evolved as a social animal...SHARING...not buying one-each.

So to hell with Target, Walmart, BestBuy, and who ever else...

I'm growing much of what I eat, and sharing with my neighbors...who are growing food, as well. (You don't need a garden honey, as long as you have a table you can push up to the sunlit windows...

We are not buying gasoline...we are not buying electronics...or silly appliances for the kitchen...and we are definitely not wasting money on blowdriers and curling irons...

A group of us got together and gave that shit away...it uses too much fuel. We're tired of being lazy, self-centered assholes. We'd like to go back to being human beings...like our ancestors were before the europeans came to this continent and trashed it.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Capnapping"

"Capitalism is immoral. It is not the natural way for human beings. We evolved as a social animal...SHARING...not buying one-each.
I'm growing much of what I eat, and sharing with my neighbors...who are growing food, as well. (You don't need a garden honey, as long as you have a table you can push up to the sunlit windows..."

Now, if the rest of Americans could catch on to your neighbors and your idea and practice it, we might even be able to save the earth from global warming. That's a smart move.

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