November 25, 2011

Black Friday? Bah, humbug!

The news is filled with headlines about "Black Friday", the infamous day after Thanksgiving when the Christmas shopping season "officially" opens. Italy is on the verge of defaulting, Portugal is not far behind, and Spain is an "any day now" proposition while fighting to hold themselves afloat until next year. The Euro trembles but does not tumble, comforting bankers and worrying economists. In Egypt the military is calling their hold on power a "curse" while Israel and Iran stare at each with malevolence. But the news of the day at every network is Black Friday.

Don't misunderstand. Free market capitalism is still the most reliable economic system humanity has come up with, even though the current version is far from perfect (as all human systems must be).

Sometimes, though, when the news media jumps on the marketing bandwagon and basically orders shoppers into the streets, or in times like the days after 9/11 when President Bush told the American public to "go shopping" as way of demonstrating their resilience, the alliance between big business, big media, and big government becomes a major annoyance.

When a merchant builds an ad campaign around Black Friday I applaud them, but when the media ignores real news in favor of interviewing fools who spend all night camped in front of a shopping mall, then I say, "Bah, humbug!"