There’s a reason they call it Black Friday

Barry Ritholtz shared the following infographic on The Big Picture blog today.

In a time when so many are clamoring for our government to reign in spending, and some of the Occupy Wall Street folks protesting the Black Friday, I expected a dip in sales when compared against last year.  Imagine my surprise when I read the following quote.

Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent to the largest amount ever as U.S. consumers shrugged off 9 percent unemployment and went shopping.


Looking back at Ritholtz’s graphic, the section on who we were planning to buy for is telling.  46% of shoppers were planning to shop only for themselves and another 18% were looking for things for themselves and others.  Thus, in this time of scaling back and calling for austerity, we’re also breaking shopping records while primarily buying things for ourselves.  I hate to break it you, but that dog won’t hunt.  As my grandpa has often said, “Shit in one hand and wish in another and see which one happens first.”  If we want the government to start acting responsibly, we need to start by getting our own houses in order.  I don’t have all the answers to our economic issues, but I’m certain that retail therapy, for those who are straining under personal debt burdens, is not the answer.

For those who’ve camped out, I wonder what your return was?  If you spent 48 hours on the porch of Best Buy, in the hopes of “saving ” $400 on a TV, you’re essentially saying your time is worth less than $10/hr (And that assumes you’ll end up with the TV).     If you didn’t get the TV…

We also have the ongoing issue of shopper violence during these events.  A Google search of “Black Friday violence” returned over five and a half million hits.  I’d love to put the onus on the retailers (They are the ones setting the traps, no?), but I think we need to do a bit of navel gazing here.  (When am I not calling for that?)   So, if I’m to be the shrill voice, so be it, but I can assure you, you won’t like it.

“You have been warned!”


The Capitalism Paradox?

I took a quick look at Twitter this morning, and found the following two posts, back-to-back, in my twitter stream.  I can’t say I’m none the worse for wear, but at least my head did not explode.

The article opens with:

AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

And this one with:

By collaborating with companies, donors will see their aid have a much bigger impact and genuinely contribute to pro-poor growth

Did I miss something, or is this an example of perfect incongruence?Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Fear the #OccupyWallStreet Hydra

The plan to evict the #occupywallstreet protesters was dropped this morning as thousands of people arrived to bolster the crowd.  My guess is that those who oppose the movement will bide their time and look to sneak back in for their dirty work later.  When they do, I doubt they’ll have the desired effect.  Had they dispersed the crowds in the first week, there would have been much hand wringing, but that might have been the end of it.  I expect that’s no longer the case.  Should they evict the crowds from Zucotti Park now, they’ll just reassemble elsewhere.  Maybe they’d occupy Central Park next.  Plenty of room there…  What I think those who would oppose the protesters realized, is that the protest has become a hydra.  Should they decide to cut off one metaphorical head, the result will be that three more pop up.

Big Weekend on Tap for Democracy

Post-A-Day: Day 13

The #occupywallstreet protesters are facing eviction from Zucotti Park tomorrow morning and Saturday is the October 15, Global Change event highlighted here:

The Wall Street protesters have been warned that they would be removed from the park for cleaning purposes, so they promptly scoured the premises.  Just one task left on the old To Do list…

Image source

Join the Root Strikers Project! (#occupywallstreet)

Post-A-Day: Day 12

“For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.” Henry David Thoreau.

flickr/Will Merydith

Tired of hacking at the leaves of evil?  (I am!)  Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig thinks the #occupywallstreet protests “could turn into something more.”  He is putting out a call to both sides of the political aisle to collaborate with those who want their efforts to make a difference.  Professor Lessig discusses his plan here:

Sold?  I was.

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