Every year after Thanksgiving, the nation's wealthy elite, still fat-bellied from turkey and cornbread stuffing, tune in to their local news outlets and observe what has become an annual tradition of bloodletting and frenzied consumerism.
We call it "Black Friday." But to those like the Walmart heirs who together own more wealth than the bottom 40% of the nation combined, it might as well be called their very own "Hunger Games."
It's their stores, after all, that play host to this one-day battle - waged by poor and working class people - to get discounted appliances, clothes, and toys for their kids.
Like Suzanne Collins' dystopic future portrayed in The Hunger Games, in which impoverished teenagers battle each other to the death once a year for the amusement of Panem's wealth elite, Black Friday "Battle Royales" often end in death as well. In just the last few years, we've seen shoppers and retail workers shot to death, trampled to death, pepper-sprayed, bitten, punched, and kicked, all in their pursuit for Black Friday shopping deals.
This year was no different. Two people were shot outside a Walmart in Tallahassee, Florida. Another two people were run down by a car in a Walmart parking lot in Covington, Washington. And at a Sears store in San Antonio, Texas, one man punched his way to the front of the line only to have a gun pulled on him by another man.
Every year around this time the phrase, "clean up on aisle five," takes on a much more disturbing meaning.
All while the wealthy elite look down on the spectacle before them with amusement and the knowledge that the entire spectacle is fattening their bank accounts.
~ from Walmart's Hunger Games by Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks ~
One of the inherent advantages of being really cash poor is that Black Friday, Gray Saturday and Cyber Monday don't mean a whole helluva lot. I mean, when you're hard-pressed to keep pace with your routine monthly bills and you don't have any credit cards (by choice), you simply don't have the requisite funds to engage in this annual consumer frenzy.
In past years, I sometimes would look at all the ads which advertized the various products I wouldn't be purchasing, but not this year. We're in the process of shedding belongings -- we don't need more!
I don't shop at Walmart anyway. I refuse to. That said, I don't entirely begrudge others who do because, unfortunately, in many areas, Walmart is the only place around to buy needed items on a budget. While I certainly wish that more of my fellow consumers were far more conscious of the many negatives Walmart and other big box stores bring to communities across the land, I understand that too many people are bought off by the fancy ad campaigns.
It's just sad that so many people are hurting and they try to buck up their bruised egos and self-images by buying crap that they really don't need.