As the article linked below indicates retailers are likely to ring up a big total for the holiday shopping season, and again I have to confront all of the mixed feelings this sort of thing resonates for me.
On the one hand it would be more than a good thing if people were feeling optimistic enough about their finances to indulge in giving generously to their loved ones. It doesn't take a keen viewer of the national scene to divine that we could all use a big dose of what Christmas is supposed to be about now, with all of the hate, fear, and bigotry demonstrated in Presidential campaigning so far. And it always amazes me just how much people can still pull out that core, loving motivation from all of the plastic, glitz and flash inherent in the commercialization that has taken over Christmas. Even for a non believer of deities like myself, one can always harken to the idea of families coming together to celebrate the ideals of a man that are real, even if he wasn't, or, even if he was, but not actually the son of one particular deity. Love. Empathy. Compassion and tolerance for all life and all people.
It has always seemed to me that you can believe in those even if you don't believe in other aspects of the religion that brought forth the ideas.
Be that as it may, though, my practical side can't help but wonder about what a number like $800 billion represents.
As in how much of that stays here to foster new investment (or sustained current investment) in more jobs, or the firming up of existing jobs, here? Wouldn't it be nice if the folks who report these kinds of statistics provided that kind of background context?
What is the carbon price we pay when that much extra spending gets pumped into our economy?
How much of that spending can one expect to be placed on the debt load that Americans are currently carrying?
I also have to wonder what the difference would be if, instead of using abstract counters to buy more trinkets, we were in an economy where you had to make all of the gifts you wanted to give yourself. An economy set up with the technical aids, and all of the component basics to allow you to do that very thing; just as you would be doing for all of the other items you wanted, or needed, for yourself.
Can you imagine the resources that would be freed up in just the elimination of product packaging, sales promotion, and global transportation costs (moving the items as well as the packaging)? Can you also imagine what such a thing would do to bring us back to a more complete focus on what this gift giving is supposed to be about? I can. And I have to tell you that it breaks this old man's heart everytime I see the difference between that possibility and what we live with now.
Consumers Will Spend Almost $800 Billion on Holiday Shopping
by HERB WEISBAUM