The shopping mantra for American consumaholics this year is, “We know the future is hopeless, but we’re not going to allow the bad economy to ruin our holiday season.” If you doubt their determination to let the good times roll, just ask the crazed shoppers who were pepper-sprayed on Black Friday at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart by a woman who wasn’t about to miss out on one of the most sought after necessities of life – the new Xbox.
Of course, those who were merely pepper-sprayed got off easy. Being at a Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Kohl’s store last weekend made Kandahar seem like a safe haven. During the three-day Thanksgiving shopping marathon, some consumaholics were punched, elbowed, stabbed and even shot. You have to admire the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to get their fair share of discounted playthings that they desperately needed to keep their gray matter anesthetized.
You could just picture many of them taking their electronic toys back to their Occupy Wall Street tents and falling into a peaceful slumber, thinking to themselves, “Mission accomplished.” And today, you can bet they’re right back on the front lines fighting those evil guys on Wall Street – you know, the ones who have given Barack Obama more money than any candidate in history.
If none of this phases you, try imagining what these lost souls will be like whey they’re on the hunt for the basic necessities of life – little things like food, water and weapons. But, hey … that could be two or three years away, so no sense getting all exercised about it right now. Today, focusing on discounted Xboxes takes all the energy they can muster.
I do not mean to imply that all Black Friday shoppers are Occupy Wall Streeters or that all Occupy Wall Streeters are Black Friday shoppers. But the two groups have at least three things in common: They are very materialistic, they are angry about what they don’t have and they have no qualms about resorting to mob violence.
When I use the word materialistic, I’m referring to wealth. And to be clear here, wealth is not what someone earns. Wealth is what someone owns. Wealth is cars and buildings and computers and television sets and iPods.
But wealth has to be created. It takes money, management and labor to produce all of those cars, buildings, computers, television sets and iPods. The predicament America now finds itself in is that there’s a lot of money and management around, but not enough labor. At least not enough labor at a cost that allows companies to manufacture goods at prices consumers are willing to pay.
Of course, there’s plenty of labor in places like China, India, Pakistan, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Haiti, Thailand and many other countries throughout the world. So it’s no mystery why these countries now produce a great deal of wealth.
The reason the Western world is broke is because it doesn’t have a workforce that is willing to work at wages that are competitive with non-Western nations. And the reason workers are unwilling to accept competitive wages is because they can afford to be choosy. Unemployment benefits, food stamps and other forms of welfare remove the motivation to work at any job that is available to them, at whatever wage is being offered, in order to feed and clothe their families.
Speaking from personal experience, the two threats that motivated me to work so hard early in my career were homelessness and starvation. But these two factors no longer motivate people who are unemployed, because the government forces those with wealth to provide food, clothing and shelter to those who don’t have them.
And with these factors removed from the survival equation, people can afford to camp out at Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart for days on end and elbow, stab, shoot and pepper-spray those who would stand in the way of their getting their fair share of stuff at the lowest possible prices.
There’s no way to prove it, but I’d be willing to bet that a disproportionate number of those who had nothing better to do than camp out in front of superstores for several days prior to Black Friday are classified as “poor” by the federal government. But how in the world can poor people afford to go shopping for electronic toys?
Good question – and here are some facts about people whom the Census Bureau defines as “poor” that may help to answer it:
Forty-three percent own their own homes.
Eighty percent have air conditioning in their homes.
Almost 75 percent of poor households have a car, and 31 percent have one or more cars.
Ninety-seven percent have a color television set, and 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens.
And much, much more.
Clearly, being poor in America is a whole lot better than being middle class in most other countries. In fact, so-called poor people in the U.S. live as well as those in the median American household of the early 1970s. So when you get right down to it, poverty is relative. But as the living standards of the poor rise, vote-hungry politicians simply make those rising standards the new baseline for poverty.
The problem is that the Western world – from Greece to California, from Italy to New York – is running out of wealth. That being the case, the masses are fully prepared to vote for politicians who will assure them that their benefits will not be cut – provided they aren’t drunk, stoned, dead, or in jail come next Nov. 6.
Now here this: There is no constituency for cutting entitlements!
What does this mean? It means a worthless U.S. currency, which in turn means that, ultimately, the masses will not have the resources to take part in those midnight pepper-spray riots on Black Friday. And that’s when the Occupy Wall Street crowds will swell, and the anger and violence will ramp up to French Revolutionary proportions. Mob violence is already programmed into our future.
But, as I said, that probably won’t happen for at least several more years, so, in the meantime, eat, drink and be merry, and enjoy the holiday season. And, for goodness sakes, be sure to get one of those new Xboxes. When all hell breaks loose, you might just be able to get some OWS loon to take it in exchange for a Glock 9 – or at least a hunting knife.