Capitalism

"Every day is 'Buy Nothing Day' in North Korea—and look where that's gotten them"

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In my latest Time.com column, I bravely take a stand in favor of shopping on Thanksgiving Day:

Just as you can't have Thanksgiving without a meal that fully no one actually enjoys (and a guest list that always seems only slightly less arbitrary, resentful, and ill-mannered than the manimals in The Island of Dr. Moreau), you can't have a functioning free-market economy without massive amounts of shopping. Every day is "Buy Nothing Day" in North Korea and look where that's got them….

And yet we encounter stories denouncing "the war on Thanksgiving." Haven't you heard, bellows Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast, that "thousands of [people] will be compelled to leave their Thanksgiving celebrations to go to work" because down-on-their-luck chains such as K-Mart are opening as early as 6 a.m on Thursday. "Stand up for the real meaning of Thanksgiving," opines T.J. McCormack at Foxnews.com, and "skip the shopping on Turkey Day." Facebook pages such as Boycott Black Thursday and Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day are easier to find than the cans of jellied cranberry sauce you bought last year after worrying the supermarket would be sold out by the time you remembered to get some this year.

Enough already. The only thing worth getting bent out of shape over is that it took the nation's retailers so long to move the nation's biggest sales day, Black Friday, up by 24 hours and give us all one more reason not to watch the Detroit Lions get shellacked on TV. We've already been going out to the movies in greater and greater numbers over the years, so why not also pick up a Star Wars Trooper T at the Gap (open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at most locations, by the way)?

Read the whole thing.

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  1. Just as you can’t have Thanksgiving without a meal that fully no one actually enjoys

    Nonsense. The meal has always been the best part of Thanksgiving at my house.

    1. Yeah, I’ve always liked Thanksgiving better then Christmas. It’s all about the food, the nap, the football.

      1. Yup. And the football’s the worst part due to the standard Thursday sloppiness. It used to be fun when it was only once a year, but
        it’s easy to pass on now that I see it weekly.

        1. What football?

    2. I do the cooking for extended family and hope (and believe) that it is enjoyed.

      We’re basically shut-ins on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We don’t watch sports so, typically, we pick some show we’ve never seen and watch all the seasons/episodes. Last year it was Mad Men; this year it’s Breaking Bad. We’ve watched 24, Lost, Deadwood, and The Soprano’s in the same way.

      1. Sounds like fun. Also sounds like Supernatural should be the next series on your list! You will not be dissapointed.

  2. Great article. I won’t be shopping though. Not a protest but while I like people individually, en mass not so much.

    1. If there is a hell, I bet it resembles a shopping mall on black Friday.

  3. Are these people nuts? Are they for realsies?

    This is the perfect excuse I can use to not spend every waking minute with my family.

  4. Is Thanksgiving a no-alt-text day too?

  5. Or in other words, buy the hype. Buy a lot of it.

  6. I don’t partake in Black Friday for two reasons:

    1. Why in Zod’s name would I want to go shop at a brick and mortar store?
    2. Why in Zod’s name would I want to get up early, go out in the freezing cold, and risk being trampled or smacked around on my day off?

  7. “Shut Up and Shop This Turkey Day”

    This is why there are no libertarian Popes.

    Seriously, libertarians are supposed to be the ones who distinguish between government and society, between legal bans on an activity and disapproval of that activity by prominent people. It’s libertarians who are supposed to promote the idea of that French economist dude that just because the government doesn’t do something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all.

    How do we get from North Korea, blue laws, and communism in colonial Massachusetts to people asking people to voluntarily boycott the annual shopping orgy of Black Friday (especially when you can always order stuff online and avoid the pushy crowds at the big-box stores)?

    If libertarian journalists run around saying “shut up and shop,” no wonder people get the wrong idea about libertarianism and its link to an unhealthy consumer culture which idolizes things at the expense of people.

    1. an unhealthy consumer culture which idolizes things at the expense of people.

      Assertion. Cite please?

      1. Here ya go:

        http://gawker.com/5962889/ther…..at-walmart

            1. Not quite as cute:

              http://www.uncommonforum.com/v…..p?p=742990

            2. That is cute. I was hoping for something a little more empirical, but anecdotal videos are fun too! 🙂

              1. The pope said it, so Eddie believes it, and that settles it. Will be interesting to watch the cognitive dissonance as EvH tries to reconcile the pope’s recent anti-capitalist screed with his libertariansism.

                1. There was a whole thread on it last night if you’re really that interested, which you shouldn’t be since it wasn’t very interesting.

                2. Oh, blow it out your ear. I haven’t supported the Pope’s remarks, but I have pointed out it’s not new to to this particular Pope. And I’ve called attention to other points in his statement.

                  Thomas Woods, Catholic publicist, defends Austrian economics:

                  http://tomwoods.com/blog/is-th…..dissenter/

                  1. But Mr. Woods is not the pope. You can find catholics who disagree with their popes on any number of things.

  8. I find the whole ‘don’t shop, employees should get to stay home’ theme a bit disingenuous. Unless you are willing to forego everything that requires someone to work on Thanksgiving (e.g., Football, Electricity, Gas Stations), then it’s cherry picking to say retailers shouldn’t be open for those who choose to shop…and work.

    1. Don’t call 911 when youcatch your garage on fire frying that turkey

    2. Not to mention that there are plenty of people who need and want to work those hours, especially with holiday pay.

      1. And there are plenty of people who don’t need or want those hours, but work them anyway because you either come in on Thanksgiving or get fired. (Former Target employee here, trying not to laugh out loud at the idea people working retail this Thursday will get “holiday pay.”)

        The world doesn’t shut down just because it’s a holiday, but it’s not like it’s the natural state of affairs for retail shopping to *ramp up*, either. The whole Black Friday absurdity is completely manufactured, and could be attached to literally any day of the year.

        1. Sorry to be the one to say it, but it bears mention at least once per every one of these debates. “If you don’t like it, don’t work retail.” I say this as someone who worked in an Irish bar for three St. Pat’s in a row. I also say this as someone who will most likely be finishing the QA for a piece of software due for release on Monday while I’m flying down to visit family tomorrow.

          1. Retail’s no bed of roses at any time of the year, but that doesn’t mean every shitty thing the stores do is automatically part of the package, to be accepted without complaint. Hard work, erratic hours, dealing with asshole customers – that’s all part and parcel of the job. But turning a normally sedate holiday into an all-hands-on-deck overnighter, just because you can, isn’t quite the same thing.

            Plus if I had been in a position to pick and choose my jobs, I wouldn’t have applied there in the first place. I did get the hell out of there at the earliest opportunity.

        2. (Former Target employee here, trying not to laugh out loud at the idea people working retail this Thursday will get “holiday pay.”)

          Interesting, both Walmart as recently as last year and Kmart going back to at least the mid-90’s (when I worked there in college) both paid holiday pay on Thanksgiving and Christmas, even to their part-time employees.

          1. Jesus, brain fart, I was in high school when I worked at Kmart.

            FML.

  9. I am absolutely in favor of shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Especially at 6:00 PM or so. Absolutely flood the 2 coffee shops within 100 miles that are actually open. Teach those bastards that SOME PEOPLE actually don’t want to go home and eat with their families.

    Then buy nothing on Black Friday.

  10. The “they don’t have to work there” bit is fine when you’re talking about laws being made. Ultimately I agree.

    But I can definitely sympathize with retail workers who’s jobs get crappier and pay stays the same because the big box stores decide to compete for a months worth of market share and sell everything at cost. I suppose there’s a supply sider argument that cheap gadgets one or two days a year make us richer as a whole, but it’s profit that pays people and creates investment and expands capitalist awesomeness.

    When the state run TV gushes about a billion in sales (and sales tax), just keep in mind it’s not a billion in profit if it cost$999,999,999. And it’s basically employees and probably tax payers somewhere along the line who help pick up the tab.

  11. I’m a Libertarian and a marketer by trade, and I still think people should avoid shopping on Thanksgiving! This article makes some very limited intellectual sense, but geez, it seems really cold.
    Collectively strike down any laws preventing businesses from being open then Thanksgiving… sure.
    Openly praise consumerism 100% of the time, even on the one day a year that most people value non-material fellowship… well, it’s a free country, but meh I’ll pass.

  12. I won’t be out tomorrow OR on Black Friday because I’m a horrible misanthropic introvert who reacts violently to more than one person inside my personal space, which extends approximately ten feet in any direction.

  13. It was an odd article. But entertaining.

  14. Just as you can’t have Thanksgiving without a meal that fully no one actually enjoys (and a guest list that always seems only slightly less arbitrary, resentful, and ill-mannered than the manimals in The Island of Dr. Moreau)

    I thought libertarians didn’t believe in collectivism?

    We’ve already been going out to the movies in greater and greater numbers over the years

    Is he talking about Thanksgiving or ticket sales? Because movie attendance was at its highest in 1946.

  15. I’ve done the Black Friday thing a few times, and last year hit a couple of stores as we were in transit on Thanksgiving day.

    I’ve never encountered the rabidity that everyone says permeates this thing–far from it, even the most determined shoppers seem to have a smile on their faces.

    There’s something that gets lost in all the leftist ‘buy-nothing-day’ garbage. This isn’t a torrent of greed. Most of the people out there are buying things for people they care about. It’s an orgy of shopping, to be sure–but it’s an orgy of shopping for other people. Changes the whole vibe.

    Lot of the stores hand out coffee and cakes, pastries or cookies. Lots of pre-Christmas cheer.

    Crowded, bustling and crazy, but in a good mood.

    1. I find it lame. But to each his own.

  16. Also it is annoying when libertarians respond to attacks on consumerism by supporting mindless consumerism. I mean you don’t have to shop on a specific day if you don’t want to.

    And libertarians don’t actually support mindless consumerism. Witness the attacks on Keynesian “Spend not save” rhetoric, opposition to homeownership subsidies or corporate welfare.

    1. Agreed. But It’s annoying when anybody does it.

      I don’t think libertarians in general do what Nick just did. I think overly politically engaged libertarians who make a living writing about their opinions do it though. And they could really just resist the urge and pass on it. It’s so pathetic.

  17. Nice Try, Nick, but I’m not biting.

    Really flimsy argument.

    Look, people can do what they want. I, for one, buy crap every damn day. Thanksgiving is a day to relax. Life is a tad over-commercialized and crass as it is at times. I can forgo “Great Deals” on one day.

    But hey….knock yourself out. Then again, I bet you stayed home (or went to a restaurant) and enjoyed the quality time with loved ones. Hypocrite.

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