Economists admit that the last 60 days of each year will define the profits for most retailers for the entire year of selling. They seem to think that such an imbalance is perfectly reasonable, mostly because it’s been that way for the memorable past. The advertising-driven avalanche of gifts to proveour love for friends, neighbors and family has become a staple of the market and none dare question a system that barely maintains itself for most of the year before seeing any profit from their labors. The very idea of a business that turns a steady, modest profit all year is ridiculed as nostalgia for a century long past, before modern marketing altered our behavior into the current neurotic spending compulsion triggered by the seasonal décor.
And what is it all about, anyway?
The followers of Jesus, fervid though their belief may be, just aren’t enough of a market share to support all the economic expansion needed to preserve the nation. The need for a gift-oriented focus was satisfied by the elevation to trademark jolly old St. Nick with a sack of presents over his shoulder. Surely a beaming gnome showering largesse on the children could raise the gross receipts. For the disbeliveers among us, the creation of sub-heroic figures further encouraged merchandising lines to tempt customers. Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, even the Grinch (whose theft of the holiday failed to halt the hypocrisy) becomes a beloved character in the pageant of presents.
The culmination of all these trends is now on display in the business pages of your daily fish wrapper, with politicians and patriots preaching their gospel of consumption as salvation. From the president on down to local pundits, the sermon is spend our way out of the recession, using borrowed money and credit cards to finance the celebration. Come the new year and its accumulated bills, we’ll all know better, but for now we celebrate our economy by buying.
Charge! It’s your patriotic duty.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.