I decided this year not to go chasing elusive deals on black-Friday this year. I would like to say this decision stems from some inflated sense of morality regarding the deleterious effects of super-capitalism on the working class. However, truth be told, I spent my Friday on a mini-vacation with my family. Was it coincidence that the vacation was scheduled the same day as black Friday? Perhaps, perhaps not. What was evident is that I was glad not to be a part of a deluge of insufferable consumers jockeying for for position in a long line to get the best possible price on some electronic gadgetry.
Black Fridays is the combined culmination of two very undemocratic things; consumerism and capitalism. Capitalism does not equal democracy and one only need to look at the free-market zones in China for a case in point. Consumerism is not democracy but it does have some democratic trappings. Phrases like; voting with your pocket book or not patronizing ‘unwholesome’ corporate conglomerates in order to effect some change are all meaningless empty promises to keep the citizen in us from acting up. Corporation answer not to the citizen of a democracy but to the shareholders of the company; whomever and wherever they may be.
I hate consumerism but it is hard not to be a consumer especially in difficult economic times. The anxiety and worry we feel individually and collectively about the state of the economy compels us to make buying decisions that reinforce the negative spiral of wage and benefits suppression. It also widens the gap between the social-economic tiers.
Robert Reich recently wrote a book on the subject entitled Supercaptalism and it is very enlightening if somewhat depressing. He refers to the time between post World War II and the early seventies as the Not so Golden Age of Democratic Capitalism (please note that is two words). Essentially it was a time when large companies such as the big three automotive companies could do economic planning at the national level over a period of years in partnership with Labor and government. What changed all this was the deregulation of financial banking. You’ll have to read the book to understand the nuances of how this morphed us from Democratic Capitalism to the apathetic Supercaptalism system we have today.
All that decidedly buzz kill information aside what the family and I did do was enjoy some time together. Regina borrowed and idea from the Eppenbergers and added to it a little Chennault style pampering. The treat was she planned a nice two day get-away to Sacramento. Yes Sacramento; the governmental seat of California. However, we did not go to to pelt eggs at our lame legislators but instead stayed at the Embassy Suites and visited Old Sacramento and the California State Train Museum. The boys loved it and I was pretty taken with the trains myself. The entire two day and one night excursion cost us just under $300 including meals, lodging and entertainment. We could probably have saved even more on food but Regina and I could not pass up Joes Crab Shack (we ate there twice).