Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

"When Did Citizens Become Consumers?"

Somewhere along the line, you and I ceased being citizens of these United States. Really. It's true. Check your passport; I believe the wording was changed to say "Consumer of the United States of America, Inc." And this change is never more evident than during the grand gluttonous season called, generically, "the holidays." It is at this time of year that we are force-fed a steady diet of pseudo-news relating to retail sales. Beginning even before Thanksgiving, breathless newscasters query shoppers and storeowners, anxious to see if this season will be as "good" as last years. So we get quotes that essentially come down to this; "I think I'll buy/won't buy more crap this year than I did last year, 'cause I got me a job/lost me a job I can/can't afford more crap." My question is this; why should I care how well stores do? Isn't that the sort of news that fits better into obscure trade magazines with names like RetailReport or StoreNewz? Fill the Wall Street Journal with this stuff if you will or the Crain newspapers/press-release mill, but let's stop grading each November and December by how many widgits are sold...and let's stop thinking of ourselves are consumers, with the attendant implication that we are defined simply by our "purchasing power."