And then we shop??
Tomorrow is Black Friday. This day received its name because retail businesses rely on this day to help put them into the black. For far too long it also put the consumer (not citizen?) in the red. To me the message to get out there and find a good deal during the wee hours seems shrill and disconnected from the reality of many people. There are still plenty of folks without jobs. While Maine's unemployment number has fallen, the number of people who are discouraged workers has increased and are not considered in the tally. Foreclosures in Maine are rising. We did not have the subprime mess that many other states have had. But now folks are losing their homes because their incomes have fallen or they are unemployed for longer periods of time. There are still grim headlines about food insecurity in our state. And yet the message is to buy buy buy!
On the one hand some of the news stories about the shopping season (what? not Holiday season?) are encouraging. Credit card use is down and more folks are using cash. Folks are sticking to a budget. The projected growth in sales for this shopping season will be better than last year but are not expected to reach the heights of the bubble. But the over arching message is still the same. Buy Buy Buy!
Many smarter folks than I agree that the shock our economy has experienced is a paradigm changer. The figures that come from the government are not all entirely pointed in the same forward facing direction. There is still too much volatility in the global economy to provide a firm foundation for "growth". I would argue that the idea of "growth" that we are sold has caused great income disparity, harm to our environment and depletion of many resources. I don't know what the answers are but I am pretty sure that none of them requires a trip to the mall.
Maybe I'm wrong. I do live a different life than most people. We don't have a lot of money. We don't shop as a pasttime. Major expenses are purchased with cash. We don't use credit cards and this year we plan to continue our tradition of a handmade holiday. For us this just feels right. We want to be giving. We want to share our bounty and love in ways that convey the true spirit of the holiday. So while the huddled masses are lining up outside the Walmart. I'll be sitting quietly in my living room with a cuppa tea knitting a few more rows on the vest I am making for my new nephew. Till by turning turning I come round right....