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No Line in Front of Best Buy in Affluent DC Suburb

I was watching CNN this morning and the inevitable wall-to-wall “shoppers go crazy on Black Friday” stories.  Pope Francis’s invocation against the Western economic promotion of “unbridled consumerism” two days ago seemed remarkably well timed.

Maybe instead of chalking Black Friday mania up to rampant greed we should be looking at the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor—and the economic policies that are forcing people to participate in a Hunger Games-like spectacle in order to provide for themselves and their families.

But as I watched video of people camped out on sidewalks in the freezing cold this year and mobs violently pushing through doors, consumerism seemed at best a partial explanation.

CNN scolds castigated them for being consumed by greed and treating Black Friday shopping as a “sport,” but these people didn’t look like they were having fun.  They looked poor.  And desperate.

If CNN was right, and this was all great fun, then there should be just as many people outside Best Buys in wealthy areas as there are in places where people are struggling.  So the dogs and I hopped in the car and went to a Best Buy in a well-to-do area of DC to see how long the lines are.

And, of course, there was no line.  Unless one person could be considered a line.  A woman was sitting just inside the main door and had organized a short list of people (22) who would return later in the day and assume an orderly place in line.

She asked me not to publish the location of the store because she came from a not-so-affluent part of town and said that this store was “the best kept secret in town.”

I asked her why she thought nobody was camped out here like they were in other places. “Because people here are rich and they don’t need to” she said.

Maybe instead of chalking Black Friday mania up to rampant greed we should be looking at the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor—and the economic policies that are forcing people to participate in a Hunger Games-like spectacle in order to provide for themselves and their families.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher is the founder of firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on The Daily Beat, Common Dreams, AlterNet, The Nation and The American Prospect.

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