As the relatively small number of Occupy Wall St protesters brave the cold and rain in the name of income equality and social justice, millions of Americans have been waiting in line at shopping malls through the night in order to rack up their credit card bills to buy cut price flat screen televisions.
‘Black Friday’ – the day after Thanks Giving in America when stores slash prices to kick off the Christmas shopping season – is hailed by the media and establishment as a huge positive for the economy.
Getting huge amounts of people to buy stuff they don’t want is apparently a great way of jolting the economy into action, despite inconvenient factors like debt – the major impediment to sustainable economic growth.
In an economy where most Americans live pay check to pay check, and job stability is as predictable as the weather in England, shopping binges are a great way of increasing the need for the complete opposite. Debt is great for banks and the credit card industry, but not so good for everyone else. Coupled with a culture of consumerism that places material wealth over society and the common good, you have a recipe for long term disaster.
The remedy for a functioning economy is one of income equality, environmentally sustainable business practices and investment in infrastructure and green tech. Buying more stuff we don’t make and going deeper into debt only prolongs the cycle of boom and bust, a pattern we can ill afford given the consequences of the last financial melt down.
It is incredibly sad to see so many people so excited about buying shiny electronic toys and designer clothes they will probably never wear. If a fraction of that enthusiasm were captured and channeled into serious political action, America may stand a chance of creating a sustainable future for itself.
As it stands, shopping beats political protest.
And that means America is still screwed.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.