Random musings in the wake of Black Friday:
I saw a new commercial yesterday. Since the auto bailout is apparently stalled in Congress, GM is taking matters into its own hands: it’s trying to get a federally-insured bailout from the American people by making itself a bank. The “GMAC Bank” is advertising 4.5 percent interest on its savings accounts--and the ad adds that “your money is safe” because the deposits are insured by the FDIC.
Shortly after seeing the commercial aired, I saw the story on Headline News about a 34-year-old seasonal employee who was trampled to death at the Black Friday opening of a Wal-Mart store on Long Island. This being
The police closed down the store, but it reopened three hours later. Wal-Mart’s brief official statement on the “incident” contained an 11-word expression of condolence to the victim’s family buried in CYA language. The entire statement reads:
“We expected a large crowd this morning and added additional internal security, additional third party security, additional store associates and we worked closely with the Nassau County Police. We also erected barricades. Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased. We are continuing to work closely with local law enforcement and we are reaching out to those involved."
Jdimytai D’amour wasn’t the only victim of Black Friday. An 8-months pregnant woman in the same crowd was knocked down and reportedly suffered a miscarriage. Across the country, in Palm Desert, California, gunfire erupted at a Toys’R’Us, reportedly after shoppers got into an argument. Two died.
I hope that
And World Greed, for that matter.
Now, instead of cars and soap and other goods, American commercials are dominated by ads for insurance and credit cards and stockbrokers and FreeCreditReport.com.
Maybe greed is not that good, Michael Douglas movie clips notwithstanding. Maybe thrift is an even better strategy. If we got back to real money and got our greed in check, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
Once the speculative frenzy dried up, gas prices suddenly became affordable again. Maybe we shouldn’t buy an SUV or a home if we can’t afford it. Maybe houses will become affordable to more people, if builders aren’t driven by speculation. Maybe somebody will start building cars that don’t cost a year’s wages. Maybe someone will even start offering bus service again. A bus is an even bigger-ticket item than an SUV; GM should make a nice profit on them.
There’s a final irony in Black Friday. If greed drives the American economy, why does the American economy need Christmas? After all, those crowds in the stores aren’t supposed to be buying for themselves; they’re buying for their family and friends.
It would be ironic, indeed, if those shoppers who trampled Jdimytai D’amour’s body did it not out of greed, but out of generosity.