George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

Orlando Sen⁠t⁠⁠i⁠nel: Black Fr⁠i⁠day: Cap⁠i⁠⁠t⁠al⁠i⁠sm we can do w⁠i⁠⁠t⁠hou⁠t⁠: My Word

By: The James Madison Institute / 2013

Last year on the day after Thanksgiving, I got up, made some coffee, built a nice crackling fire and enjoyed a quiet hour or so reading the newspaper and visiting with my youngest son.I spent the afternoon playing football and other games with my sons and their friend in our backyard. After football, I went into my game room, watched some college football, took a peaceful nap and then spent the evening playing Ping-Pong and visiting with my family some more.Oh, I also ate some great leftovers — compliments of our dear friends here in our little town — watched “Andy Griffith Show” reruns and, well, you get the idea …What I did not do was join the total insanity that is called “Black Friday.” Let me be clear …Living in America, where people would just as soon shoot a gun or their middle finger at you on a normal day, is just about the last place in the world you want to be when Wal-Mart is having a sale on DVD players.I saw on the news last year where a parent got arrested for leaving his infant in the car while he joined in the trampling and steep discounts at an electronics store. I saw other broadcasts showing hundreds of people storming into stores like the running of the bulls. In this case, it was the running of the credit cards.Assuming there were very few atheists, Muslims or Jews mingled in with the herds of shoppers, it would be safe to assume most of these folks were stomping on each other, kicking and screaming in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.How painfully ironic, isn’t it? The man who taught the world about modesty, giving, love and sacrifice now has to watch as Americans all over the place try to kill one another in order to save 22 percent on a doll dressed like a prostitute.One horrible thing about Black Friday is that it gives people who hate capitalism (see Obama voters) some legitimacy to say, “See, these dirty, profit-grabbing, selfish, rich businesspeople are making their workers come into work on Thanksgiving and forcing people to leave their cranberry sauce early in order to fight like animals in the African plains to save money on Chinese pajamas.”Do they have a point?One thing you learn early as an economist is Say’s Law — which states “supply creates demand.” That means that first, the executives at stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy sit around in their nice suits and say, “Hey Chuck, do you think people would like to come into our store and buy horror movie DVDS for their pre-school children at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, rather than wait, with their kids in the car, until midnight?””Gee, Bob, it is worth a shot, isn’t it? Let’s give it a try!!””Chuck, what about our employees? Do you think they will mind working Thanksgiving night?””To heck with them. If they want a job, they will show up.”So they open at 8 p.m., their $8-per-hour workers leave their Thanksgiving dinner early, or eat it earlier, and customers (not me) prepare to stampede one another four hours earlier than last year. If it is a success, next year it will be 11 a.m. Twenty years from now, Black Friday will be a week before Halloween.If this sounds like socialistic diatribe, let me say this:First, the stores have a right to open whenever they want. We do, after all, still have a right to private property.Second, the workers don’t have to keep working at Wal-Mart. They could go to work at some store that closes on Thanksgiving every year. It is the pursuit of — not guarantee of — happiness.Finally, if this is so terrible, then customers have to be the ones to say, “Enough!” If, on the other hand, they love shopping more than eating their third plate of mashed potatoes, so be it. Freedom, remember?Fourth, you will never see me partake in this awful illustration of capitalism at its best/worst. I will be at home, relaxing and shaking my head at the maniac I saw on YouTube hitting someone with a chair in order to get the next kid’s toy that he will give to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.Happy shopping, and pass the pumpkin pie.Jack A. Chambless is an economics professor at Valencia College and a senior fellow with the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee.