Good morning to the post-Turkey Day start to the weekend. Most folks call this “Black Friday” in reference to the “cut-rate” prices that various retailers are offering. For me, this is the one day of the year that I completely avoid the retail stores. Being a Business faculty member at my local Community College – I completely understand how this particular day figures into the marketing aspect, as well as the inventory shuffle that needs to take place going into the rest of the holiday shopping season. Its basic and simple inventory concepts. I completely grok all that stuff – after all, I spend two class periods lecturing students on it.
What bothers me about the Black Friday concept is how it plays into the mentality of various folks. You’ve seen the over-dramatized Target commercials for Black Friday. The lady stands there and gets excited over the fact that Black Friday is here. In one commercial, she laments about being so excited that she hasn’t slept in two days. In another, she cries uncontrollable as she flips the Target mailing flyer that’s she received, all the while crying out hysterically that “its here!” While the commercials have a somewhat edgy humor associated with them – just like any over-the-top stereo-type, there has to be some degree of the truth mixed in. Without that, the edginess of the humor won’t play well to the targeted audience. There are some people out there that follow this stereotype of the “professional bargain hunter” – otherwise, the over-dramatized stereo-type wouldn’t have any impact in the commercial.
But honestly, stereo-types and commercials aside…. This over-emphasis of consumerism has provided a rebirth of sorts to the concepts that “he with the most toys, wins”. I’ve heard people lament tight home budgets that will limit the Christmas shopping for their families. I’ve seen the glint in the eyes of people craving the latest video game release or the newest computer system release (I’m talking to you Apple fan-boys and fan-girls). There’s no satisfaction with having “enough” – rather the desire is to have more, have bigger and have better. And that desire leads people to spend to the limits of their personal budgets. And sometimes beyond.
Oddly enough – isn’t that how we got into the financial mess we’re currently in? People were encouraged to take out loans for new homes – loans that their salaries could barely afford. In some cases, people were spending right down to their last pennies. When something catastrophic happened – loss of job, medical health issues, car accident that put a member of the family in the hospital – there was no “give” in the personal budget to handle those crisis-points, even on the short-term. And the solution for that was to move to even riskier personal loans with sky-rocketing fees or to go without. Neither of those were great choices to make either. And yet those were the only options available because of the tight nature of the personal budget. There was no relief available – little or no savings available to assist.
So what about Black Friday? Well, from a retailer’s point of view – it makes perfect sense. Its a marketing practice that helps reduce inventory at a minimal profit margin. Product that doesn’t get sold, doesn’t make profit. It sits in inventory and costs the merchant money sitting there. So Black Friday – and other sales and marketing pitches – works. It gets consumers into the store. It gets inventory to move. There’s nothing here I have a problem with.
No, my problem comes back the other direction. To the consumers. Us. Buying products is not a bad thing. Coveting those products at the detriment to our personal budgets – not respecting the fact that things do happen, and that we may need a slight financial cushion to absorb that — that bothers me. Not just as someone who has to watch his own finances — but as someone who has watched such inane movements as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall-Street spring up over these very issues. People kvatch over the amount of taxes the government takes in – and how that money is spent. Others kvatch about a tight economy, the lack of jobs, the cost of an education, and how that education is essentially “useless”. All concepts heralded by both “protest” movements.
Our government here in America is expected to handle various functions within our society. None of which are thought much about – and have come to be “expected”. Maintenance on roads and bridges, as a singular example. The monies for this don’t magickally appear…it comes the taxation of the people. We wanted a representative government – we have to help pay for it. Granted, there are parts of it that need some better oversight and a degree of transparency…but that’s something that can be worked out without putting litmus tests forward for politicians. That’s right, there are parts of the Tea Party movement that are requiring candidates to profess a certain religious perspective prior to getting an endorsement (one such “organization” is being run by two individuals here in Denton county). Nothing like complicating a system that’s already over-complicated.
::sigh:: As you can see – a lot of this is my own thoughts that have been welling up thanks to the politics here in America. I can’t stand politics. However, we in America have allowed it to permeate nearly every aspect of our society. I don’t like Black Friday and the over-commercialization that comes with it. Nor do I like the revered manner that over-consumption in consumerism has brought as well.
For me, there’s something to be said for the soothing qualities of a short walk down by the shores of Lewisville Lake over that of a twelve to fourteen hour gaming session on Gears of War 3. That 30- to 45-minute walk lets me recharge a lot more than a marathon gaming session will ever do for me. Don’t get me wrong – there are times when a few hours of blowing up things and shooting Lizard-men bent on taking over the world is just the necessary medicine. But as with anything else…moderation is the key. Even on a Black Friday…and a Thanksgiving weekend.