Saturday, November 29, 2008

Idiots assemble

I was prepared to write my annual post lamenting early Black Friday shoppers when I read today's Gazette and saw that one early-morning shopper summed it up better than I ever could: "We're like a community of idiots."

Idiots indeed. To reiterate: I'm pro-freedom and would never question the right of sport shoppers to hit the shopping centers at 4 a.m. My complaint is that the stores open that early, depriving employees of a full day off for Thanksgiving. It's an especially cruel game to play on employees who have to leave town to visit families for the holidays, then make the late drive back to be on duty when the doors open.

Americans work far too many hours with far too few days off as it is. It is pernicious to rob workers of a big chunk of one of the few days they still get -- especially one that is so quintessentially American.

It's unpatriotic. And it borders on blasphemy.


Anonymous said...

let's hope that some decorum and dignity win out and stores quit this insane "tradition". shopaholics are marketed to 24-7 in this country as it is. we don't need to compound the problem by seeing if we can get people to kill each other for the priveledge of buying more crap they don't need.

Anonymous said...

To each his own, I guess. It looks stupid to me but then, I do most of my shopping at the bank, giving cash so that my kids and grands can do thier own shopping after Christmas!

Mark T said...

At the root of it all is advertising constantly trying to convince us we are unhappy. Shopping produces temporary relief, like a drug.

Jay Larry Lundeen said...

As insipid as this early morning shopping may appear to some, employees are not forced to continue working at stores that sponsor such events. Any employee in America can actually update their resume and promote their talents elsewhere.

As far as these holiday-induced crazy-hour consumer rituals happening at all, well, so what. A free-market system has some interesting foibles.

Would David Crisp turn away advertising revenue from an EHCES (Early-Hour Consumer Event Sponsor) on moral grounds? Doubtful.

Eric said...

My wife wanted to try it, and see what an $8.00 jacket from WALMART looked like, so we headed out before 5:00 am.

Here are my observations;

(1) People are spending money this Christmas - I saw about 4 ea 50" HDTV's rolling out the door at $800.00 per.

(2) There is really very little VALUE in an $8.00 jacket. One of the kids wanted one, and I doubt it'll survive one season. I've had the same winter coat for 10 years, that I bought at JC Penney, that all the zippers still work fine on. It cost $80.00 on sale, and the per year cost is now competitive with the chinese-sewn goods.

(3) For some families it seems to be a tradition.

David said...

You are incredibly naive if you believe that all American workers, especially college students, can simply go work somewhere other than a major retail chain. No doubt, we all have some employment nirvana awaiting us at some unknown point in the future, but most of us ain't got that job yet.

Your Panglossian take on the virtues of a free market undercut any claim you may to being a conservative. A market is nothing but people making decisions. To hold that any decision people make is therefore good is unconscionable.

Would I turn down ads advertising early Black Friday sales? Heck no. I will accept ads for all sorts of activities that I find stupid, wasteful or corrupt (but legal). I am not the world's nanny. But I don't mind telling the world what I think of it now and then.

Jay Larry Lundeen said...


Here at the Big Sky Conservatorium high atop the Rimrocks we got a big chuckle from you labeling me naive concerning college students, and others, not being able to work anywhere other than retail chains. Some of our younger members work at bars and restaurants, construction trades, and non-box retail shops while being able to maintain laudable GPAs at MSU-B and Rocky. Bottom line: anyone with even the slightest inclination to better themselves can find different employment in Billings. It may not be "job-nirvana", but it just might be a step up in pay and working conditions. Any person that believes that they are stuck in a certain job is suffering from a lack of motivation.

While I may suffer from a few things in this life, a "panglossian take" on the free-market system is not one of them. You'll notice that I used the word "foibles" (minor weaknesses) in describing some aspects of our capitalistic system. I actually agree with you that early-hour shopping and other delirious Holiday consumer events are a blight, and terrible for employees, but what's the alternative? The Department of Reasonable Shopping Hours? While there are those that insist gov't control of nearly everything is a benefit, our gov't has a bleak track record of inefficiency,fraud, waste and mismanagement in most areas of involvement.

A free-market system has its warts but at least it has provided industrialized countries with an overall decent standard of living for hundreds of millions of people. Certainly better than any socialistic or communistic country has achieved.

I empathize with you concerning the horns of a dilemma that Town Pump has thrust into your editor / publisher hinder. One can only hope that Obama's newly created Department of Business Quandary Services will provide a solution.

Ed Kemmick said...

Jay: I have read David's original post again and I can't find a single suggestion that the government should in any way restrict the free market. In fact, he says: "I'm pro-freedom and would never question the right of sport shoppers to hit the shopping centers at 4 a.m."

Defenders of the so-called free market are always so quick to see threats where there are none. It's as if you were to read a critical movie review and jump to the conclusion that the reviewer is advocating government oversight of Hollywood scripts.

The way I see it, David was simply lamenting the decline of public spirit or public morality. He only wishes it were not so -- rather in the way that social conservatives might lament the decline in morality generally, without necessarily advocating government control over morals. In other words, this ought to be a point on which liberals and conservatives can agree -- that a good life has to involve more than an obsession with material goods and physical pleasures.