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Deadly Consumerism

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Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Thursday in the U.S., when many Americans have the day off from work and use it to begin their holiday shopping, is generally considered one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The day gets its name from the prospect that the heavy shopping on this date will push retailers' balance sheets out of the red and into the black.

Despite the bad economy this year, countless American consumers still camped out for hours after Thanksgiving dinner outside their favorite shops in order to be at the head of the queue when the shops opened early Friday.

OK, that's fine. If people have nothing better to do, and they have the money to spend, that's their business. Go for it.

But what happened this year on Black Friday at a Long Island Wal-Mart is bigger than that, and much more heinous, be it intentional or not. It demonstrated that some Americans will put their desire to be first in line for that limited inventory of 50-inch televisions above all else -- even if it means that another human being has to die in the process.

If you haven't heard the story, here is a summary, courtesy of the New York Daily News:
A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an "out-of-control" mob of frenzied shoppers smashed through the Long Island store's front doors and trampled him, police said.

The Black Friday stampede plunged the Valley Stream outlet into chaos, knocking several employees to the ground and sending others scurrying atop vending machines to avoid the horde.

When the madness ended, 34-year-old Wal-Mart worker Jdimytai Damour was dead, and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.
This is America on shopping adrenaline, credit cards, selfishness, and competitive greed.

What seemingly matters to the American consumer -- even today, apparently -- is keeping up with the proverbial Joneses, and exceeding them at any cost. Shopping has become a sport, and consumerism has become a contest, even in what might be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

If your neighbor has a 40-inch television, you have to run out and buy a 50-inch TV with more proverbial bells and whistles -- whether or not you can afford it.

And, if someone stands in your way, trample him to death, damn it!

How cheap really is that big TV if it costs you your soul?


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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I'd like to read something on the psychology o... by Hope Hofmann on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 8:04:50 AM
This year's Black Friday is the 25th anniversa... by Hope Hofmann on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 8:09:52 AM
I agree with you completly.  What the heck is thi... by Jeanine on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 9:47:25 AM
At least a few people are beginning to realize thi... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 11:31:22 AM
   I live on Long Island a few miles awa... by Terry Ballard on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 12:35:01 PM
I don't think you fully understand the basic i... by Richard Mynick on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 12:48:58 PM
"A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an... by Munich on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 2:25:34 PM
I was fortunate enough to get a rental car out of ... by Theresa "Darklady" Reed on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 2:39:39 PM
Granted, this was a horrible event, and the people... by Jennifer Hathaway on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 8:30:56 PM
Mary, you're dead right.  Consumerism has... by Larry Retzack on Sunday, Nov 30, 2008 at 11:58:51 PM
Let me repeat the first poster's subject line:... by shielah jones on Monday, Dec 1, 2008 at 9:58:51 AM
Americans have been trampling over people in their... by matabele on Tuesday, Dec 2, 2008 at 12:17:57 PM