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Black Friday, Black Budgets, and Consumer Conspiracy

Americans recently celebrated that post-Thanksgiving holiday of rage and fury known as Black Friday; a day where retailers open early (or extremely late) and allow shoppers some of the best deals of the year, and in very limited quantities, as consumerism begins to make the turn towards full-throttle leading up to Christmas. Discussing this all with a friend recently, she was horrified to learn that members of her extended family referred to the act of getting out on Black Friday as a “tradition.” Not on her side of the family, obviously.

Maybe there’s nothing entirely wrong with that, and if braving against the masses is uniting, in a sense, for some families who make an activity of facing the traffic, potential exposure to holiday illnesses, and general dangers that await the waking world on the busiest shopping day prior to Christmas each year, then all the better for them. But in the sense that people are indeed often times really what would amount to being “sheeple” (to employ an over-used expression from the camp of the conspiracy theorist), we are quick to run out and spend our earnings, and far less often eager to look at the bigger picture, and namely, how the media and the somewhat gross facade of “holiday shopping” is really, at times, only an ugly mask for people being corralled into handing over their earnings according to the desires of corporatist mentality that exists in the Western World, especially in the United States.


Despite the wording used in the title of this post, my goal here is not to try and convince anyone that world governments are feeding propaganda to an unwitting public, for purposes of driving the masses toward mass consumerism in the weeks leading up to the holiday season. And even if this were the case, what would really be so wrong about it, in truth? People spending money can certainly help to invigorate a country’s economy disposition, and to help stir the still-burning ashes beneath the great flame of prosperity. This, of course, is the whole underlying notion behind “economic stimulus packages,” which seek to float small amounts of money at portions of the populace, with hope that this “free money” * the government has chosen to hand out among its constituency will be spent, and thus aid in fueling the great economic fire ( * Note the quotation marks used here, as there is, in truth, no such thing as “free money,” or to paraphrase economist Friedrich von Hayek’s estimation, there’s simply, “no such thing as a free lunch.”)

But think for a moment about the overt use of media for purposes of driving people out to stores on a day such as “Black Friday,” which in truth, really has become something of a “holiday” for those who choose to race out and buy, buy, buy. What, in truth (and aside from a few coupon discounts and holiday specials) makes this day different from any other day, so far as Christmas shopping goes?

Here’s the real truth: according to many studies, Black Friday isn’t really the best day for the avid holiday shopper to expect the lowest prices or best deals the season may offer. According to one article appearing in the Wall Street Journal, perhaps a majority of gifts “are often priced below Black Friday levels at various times throughout the year,” and that in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of these items, “follow different trajectories as the remaining shopping days tick down.” While the WSJ report found that certain items, such as wide screen televisions, do become more expensive following Black Friday sales, other data seems to suggest that the best prices will nonetheless be found a few days, or even weeks later. CNN Money reported only two years ago that,

Sales soared in previous years as people swapped out their old standard-definition tubes for flat screen HDTVs. Even during the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, flat screens remained a hot buy, with double digit sales growth during the past two holiday seasons, NPD Group found. But now that most Americans own an LCD TV, there’s less incentive to purchase them.

Hence, you can damn well rest assured that, in the week following Black Friday, those prices may indeed still drop; and furthermore, if you’re content with giving and receiving cash for the holidays, you might just as well wait until after Christmas, when prices on such items can often be the lowest they will drop all year.


So getting back to the idea of “black budgets” and conspiracies, what does all of this show us? Quite simply, it shows that our mainstream news sources can effectively sell the American public on the idea that getting out there, busting ass, and spending money is not only a good thing (and a traditional family activity), but also that it’s a necessity. In truth, it’s just another day of the year… and you may do far better to wait and make your purchases later.

Hence, we begin to see a trend emerge: people are told to do something, and almost without thinking, they do it. I am not supposing that an actual link exists between Black Friday spending and “Black Budgets,” or the attainment of financing by government and other groups through secretive means. But think for a moment about how, with the case of holiday shopping, people can be so easily misled to think that they are saving money, and getting the best deal they can be afforded. In much the same way, people who work typical 9-5 jobs, rather than submitting ungodly amounts on tax day, instead talk about “getting money back.” The reason the American taxpayer gets money back in tax returns is because money was withheld from those individuals in the first place, and what’s being returned will no doubt be only a portion of what was withheld to begin with. And yet, despite this truism, ask any of your friends how much money they lost last tax season: the majority of them will say something akin to, “what do you mean, lost? I got money back!” Sadly, most of us are unaware of the fact that we’re constantly being duped, and that yes, we live in a system designed to fool us into thinking we’re getting that “free lunch” so many have come to expect out of life.


Yes folks, the truth is that you’ve been deceived, and that in all likelihood, there is far more to this than many are aware of.

Granted, I try not to fly the “alert” flags when unnecessary, and certainly try to abstain from crying “conspiracy!” at every bend in the road. However, one must ask themselves: based on the gullibility of the public when it comes to acting and doing based solely on what they are told, and when they are told to do it, how can we expect that the masses might behave in the event that they really are given some kind of clandestine or nefarious orders, whether subliminally, or by using more overt methods? In any event, one can surmise that the worst case scenario here may not be so simple as spending too much on an LCD television, or missing out on a Christmas toaster sale…


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  • rsanchez1

    On the tax return thing, you’re right about there being some deception, but on Black Friday, I think it’s more an instance of egging people on.

    The media loves to put out a story. The story every year is Black Friday and how people get stampeded. Add to that this year the story of Wal-Mart protests and Black Friday actually starting on Thursday, sometimes at 8pm, and the media won’t stop pushing it, especially these days when traditional media is dying fast.

    To be honest, this article has a “holier than thou” tone to it. “Yes folks, the truth is you have been deceived” sort of comes across like “you sheeple are fools and you can’t see what I can see.”

  • EnderWiggin

    It does kind of come across in a condescending tone. On the other hand I think the tone was intended to sound differently. I think Micah was including himself in that statement as his point was that the populous is much more gullible than they think they are. Which is true. We all fall victim at some point to the wiles of Edward Bernays-esque crowd-think tactics.

  • There are many proven tactics to deceive consumers into spending more than they should: pricing things at $9.99 instead of plain 10 bucks, deals of “buy 2, get 3rd one free” when you only need to buy a single item, etc.

    I remember how some 10 years ago I used to get into big fights with my dad over the issue of the durability of products. My dad was grown in an age when you learned how to take care of things, so that they could last a lifetime. The car you bought with your first real paycheck could still work way into your retirement years, with some common sense and effort on your part. And if your TV broke down, you didn’t rush out to buy a new one! you called the repairman, and ONLY after you tried to fix it yourself with the trusty tool-box.

    But, I argued with my dad, those days were about to be over. Now no one expects their car to last a lifetime, and the moment you manage to buy that big-ass 50″ flatscreen to watch the Super Bowl, you know on the back of your mind that in one year you will be on the lookout for a bigger set.

    Is there even a TV repairman in your neighbor?

    And let’s not even talk about computers!

    Thus, we’ve become a generation unable to save money in the bank. If you open an account, most of the time you’re less concerned about the kind of interest rates the bank is offering, than with whether there’s an ATM of that institution close to your home.

    And when we don’t have enough money in our account to buy that shiny new toy, we bring out the Plastic Personal Jesus we all carry in our wallets. A flip of the card, and the gates of Heaven open up!

  • worldbrainwash

    Often, conspiracies aren’t always perpetuated by what we imagine (in most cases a half dozen white men with scotch-induced halitosis). Very often what we believe is a conspiracy is a disorganized groundswell of opportunists cashing in on a random event, or “aligning’ their interests to bring revenue to their team, or corporation, or industry, or what have you. The lobbying industry for example fits this bill, though I’m sure there’s plenty of halitosis to found there. Another example is the marketing and business consulting industry, who study us as consumers, and have figured out exactly the right buttons to push to get us to buy their wares. Their corporate market lexicon is slick, in a “collateral Damage” kind of way, and yet at the very heart of it, it is about keeping us unhappy, and forever unsatisfied. I found an interesting video this morning that made me stop and think for a minute that in the case of consumer control, it’s not exactly a conspiracy, but simply an established business model that perpetuates the consumer economy.

    Weather it’s through crack cocaine, or a new car, or numbing out to a new movie- external fulfillment only fuels our endless desires.

    Ultimately we must be vigilant, and seek true fulfillment from within.

  • BW

    Yes folks, the truth is that you’ve been deceived, and that in all likelihood, there is far more to this than many are aware of.


    Yes, it pretty much starts at birth. Breaking away from this conditioning is a mixed blessing. It allows one to see more clearly, but it can also induce a firm sense of cynicism and skepticism.