Christmas has passed and Boxing Day is upon us. For many Canadians Boxing Day is traditionally a day to head out to the shops in search of sales and savings. I guess Boxing Day would be the Canadian equivalent to Black Friday in the US (which by the way is not the biggest shopping day of the year in the US).
Today, with shopping sprees flourishing all around us, I'll share some thoughts on modern day consumerism to help balance things out a bit for you.
I just read a piece that the CBC is running on Boxing Day shopping in Canada. Shortly afterwards I came across an interesting interview that Bill Moyers had with Benjamin Barber on his PBS show Bill Moyers Journal. The interview begins like this:
BILL MOYERS: Here we are, at the height of the holiday season. The malls and the shops are packed. Stuff is flying off the shelves. And like Grinch or Scrooge you stand up and say, "Capitalism's in trouble." Why?
BENJAMIN BARBER: Because things are flying off the shelves that we don't want or need or even understand what they are, but we go on buying them. Because capitalism needs us to buy things way beyond the scope of our needs and wants to stay in business, Bill. That's the bottom line. Capitalism is no longer manufacturing goods to meet real needs and human wants. It's manufacturing needs to sell us all the goods it's got to produce.
After reading that CBC story about 5 million Canadians heading out to the shops, it turns out there is some balance in the world after all.
That excerpt sets the central theme of the rest of the interview but it also touches on some other interesting concepts. It's well worth the time taken to watch if you are interested in this sort of thing.
The piece is broken into three clips on YouTube:
Or you can read the transcript if you'd prefer that to the video.
I've written before about trying to limit your spending to items and services that you will actually use and enjoy. My motivations tend to be a bit more selfish in that I'm looking to save money for my own good and not acting with a more global conscience - at least not directly. The interview above takes these same ideas and places them in a larger social context.
Regardless of your personal motivations, the concepts of limiting your spending to necessities and saving whenever possible are good things to keep in mind for the coming year. If you're someone who likes to set New Year's resolutions, these might be some good themes to follow when you make your resolutions for 2008.