Once upon a time there was a country called Q that was the richest in human history.
Despite its recent bout of economic downtown, the people of Q still were awash in money and material possessions, as measured by average per capita income and just plain accumulated “stuff” that far exceeded what each person actually needed.
Even Q’s poor people were not absolutely poor, for Q’s government defined “poverty” in relative terms, which means the government calls you”poor” simply because you have less stuff than others. Absolute poverty means a person is without the food, clothing, and shelter for survival.
And so, as the country of Q became richer and its average per capita income increased, so too did the poverty threshold, which in turn meant that Q would always have “the poor” even when Q’s poor had indoor heating, television, microwave ovens, cell phones, and other amenities and goods that were considered by the world’s really poor countries to be only possessed by the rich. That was why many of Q’s “poor” were not just fat, but clinically obese, unlike the starving emaciated poor of the rest of the world.
Despite their being awash in oceans of stuff, the people of Q wanted more, more, and ever more stuff. To feed their insatiable hunger for more stuff, they even went into debt with double-digit interest rates — which meant most of them would never be freed of debt but would be bound in life-long servitude to their debtors.
Special days, called “holidays,” were set aside for the people of Q to buy more stuff for their families and friends — all of whom also were awash in oceans of stuff.
There was one special day in the year when the people of Q went into a stuff-buying frenzy.
It was called Black Friday, the day after a holiday called “Thanksgiving.” On that day, Q’s people would line up for hours –some camped in the bitter cold the night before — to be “the first” to buy stuff when stores opened.
On Black Friday in the year 2010, even though the people of Q already were neck-deep in debt and even though Q had a record and persistent official unemployment rate of nearly 10%, they still turned out like zombies to buy yet more stuff. There were even reports of violence [Source: The Economic Collapse]:
- At a Target store in Buffalo, New York, the crowds that were waiting impatiently outside suddenly became a chaotic mob when the doors opened at 4 AM. Shoppers trampled each other in a mad dash. One man who was lying on the ground thought “I don’t want to die here” while he was being trampled by the other shoppers.
- At a Wal-Mart store in Sacramento, California, the crowds became so violent that the police had to evacuate the store.
- In West Palm Beach, Florida, three women reported to the police that $1,000 in presents they had just bought at Best Buy were stolen from their vehicle within minutes of being purchased.
- In eastern Georgia, a U.S. Marine reservist who was collecting donated toys for children was stabbed with a knife when he tried to stop a shoplifter.
- At a popular convenience store in Garden City, police were brought in to break up a huge brawl. A group of customers were pulling and tugging at products and punched each other in their faces and stomach.
- In Middleton, Wisconsin, a 21-year-old woman was arrested when she threatened to shoot other shoppers when they objected to her moving to the front of line to get into a Toys R Us store.
- In Douglasville, Georgia, customers tore apart a store display at a Wal-Mart store, as they pushed and shoved each other in an attempt to grab the best deals.
- In a shopping mall in Cerritos, California, the police locked down a section of the mall after a wild fight broke out in the food court, with people flinging chairs at other customers.
- In Texas, a near-riot broke out in the middle of a Wal-Mart store as a huge crowd of customers pushed and shoved each other to get special deals that were being wheeled out onto the floor.
So what is this hunger that is insatiable?
At the same time as the people of Q acquired more and more stuff, their families broke down, divorces and single parenthood increased, along with a decline in religiosity and church attendance. And as the people of Q became increasingly atomized and alienated, their yawning maw for more stuff became a bottomless chasm.
The more self-aware (or honest) among Q’s citizens said that when they felt blue, they would anesthetize themselves by buying stuff much as a drug addict seeks a fix. But the feeling of elation was fleeting, lasting mere minutes. Some of Q’s more learned denizens maintained that owning a lot of expensive stuff was a way for the rich upper classes to distinguish themselves from the rest, and that the masses’ consumerism was their attempt at class mimicry — though at the cost of their increasing indebtedness.
When the people of Q behaved like this, all to buy stuff, how do you think they’ll behave when things really go bad and they are desperate for food or shelter?
[H/t Igor for the video]