I don’t really like crowds, shopping, or lines. So Black Friday sounds like complete torture to me; I never really participate in it. One person even told me that more people shopped on Black Friday than voted. At first this surprised me and I thought this was yet another indication of how the public has little care for national politics but, then I got to thinking… Is this not a somewhat rational thing to do? Shopping might actually be better than voting if you think about it. If I go shopping, at least I will be getting something cool at a cheap price (assuming I don’t get pepper sprayed or assaulted by the police). If I vote, I will get more of the same. The creeps in politics never really change. 95% of the people in congress are complete liars. Whatever party you vote for, they are all corrupt. So hey, if politicians are sending the country to Super Huge Financial Armageddon and can’t even reduce the deficit within a Super Secret Cloak and Dagger Committee that no one has access to except for lobbyists, we might as well go out with a big bang and rack up as much credit card debt as possible on Black Friday! I guess the shopping public are smarter than I give them credit for. At least they know what a value is when they see it. If the Republican primaries are any indication of what the mindset of the voting public is it means that the voting public can’t decide what the heck they want. Primary voters will apparently forgive any transgression for whatever politician that is the media’s darling that week and can be led around like lambs. Black Friday shoppers on the other hand are hard core idealists that will not let anyone stand in their way to get what they want! You might not like their ideals, but hey, they have commitment! Dreary primary voters will apparently clap at any made for TV slogan and like whatever flavor they are told, (sigh), it makes me bored just thinking about it. Just look at any political debate in the last 30 years, totally boring, the only thing we can hope for is that some candidate will make some kind of gaffe that the media will hound him relentlessly about for a week until the next guy messes up. Black Friday though, now that is ACTION! I don’t even have to be there, I can just watch it on TV! Maybe in the next debate someone will at least bring pepper spray or something, that should make things more fun.
Well, after getting a little side tracked there, what does interest me about Black Friday is how it is touted as some kind of economic gauge for the nation’s economy. These economists say how great the day was because sales went up something like 6% over last year. These are likely the same economists that never saw the crash of 2008 coming or thought that TARP and all the other stimulus packages would bring us to a new era of prosperity. The first thought that came to my mind was the 6% increase has been about the same rate of inflation or lower even when considering real inflation which is around 12%. So this statistic means nothing really, it is all inflation driven at best and most likely it is a worse year for buying than last year. Then the next obvious thought that came to mind was, who cares? Consumption does not equate to economic growth, production does. If these people saved their money and put it into banks, these banks would lend it to people who would make long term capital intensive projects that produce things like cars and computers. Instead, all this consumption in the present actually makes us poorer, because we are consuming our stock of capital now, in the present, when it could bring much more wealth in the future. Lastly, even if consumption was a valuable economic indicator (it isn’t), this could actually mean that people are buying now instead of buying in the future because people are cash strapped in a bad economy. They are buying now when there are good deals rather than over the next month, overall consumption might be the same or even less during this holiday season. This is similar to the Cash for Clunkers program, when people who were planing to buy cars in the fall, and instead came in during the summer to sell their “clunkers” so the government could pulverize them to save Gaia or something. That is a whole other topic but, instead of destroying billions in economic wealth, we could have given all those cars to homeless people or single mothers or somebody like that but, Mother Earth comes before mere Human Beings, citizen! So calm down and watch me poor salt in the gas tank.
Well, anyway, back to Black Friday. The lack of understanding of economics concerning Black Friday is also pervasive in every other area as can been seen from cockamamie programs like Cash for Clunkers, to the Fed printing of 7.7 trillion in secret (that is currently blowing up the next super bubble). The list could go on and on but, if people want to know how we got here just look at what pundits and most economists are saying on TV.