Is this really the nation we want to be?

Our culture is screwed. Fueled by Black Friday – total spending over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend hit a record of $52.4 billion. But the real question is – at what cost to our society? This year’s Black Friday featured its usual flare of violence, desperation, and death. At a Wal Mart in Little Rock, Arkansas dozens of shoppers rioted over $2 waffle makers. At a Wal Mart in Arizona – trampling injuries were reported as hundreds rushed the door when it opened. At the same Wal Mart – a man was pepper sprayed by police for shoplifting – giving nearby customers a dose of the chemical weapon as well.

Keeping up with the times – a woman in a Los Angeles Wal Mart resorted to pepper spraying fellow shoppers to clear the way toward X-Boxes that were on sale. There were gunshots outside a North Carolina Wal Mart – a bomb scare at a Phoenix Wal Mart – and a brawl at a Pittsburgh Victoria’s Secret over women’s underwear. But most disturbing was what happened in a West Virginia Target – where a man collapsed on the ground and was ignored by shoppers who simply walked over his body to grab bargains rather than helping him. By the time someone did help 61-year-old Walter Vance – it was too late – he died at the hospital.

Economic stimulus aside – is this really the nation we want to be??


DRichards's picture
DRichards 11 years 26 weeks ago

Economic stimulus aside – is this really the nation we want to be??

Becoming Jefferson's People. Thomas Jefferson shares his vision of a Jeffersonian America

DRichards's picture
DRichards 11 years 26 weeks ago

Happy Corporate Holidays, America!

Here we go again folks. It’s that time of year when we show our holiday spirit by plunging headlong, eyes wide shut, into personal debt to support China and other countries while our own America slides further into economic chaos. But don’t let that stop you. By all means, go out and spend that last dime on the credit card for a Taiwan trinket. The credit card company will probably be more than willing to increase your limit. Just don’t miss a payment. Can’t pay? Too bad. We’ll simply increase your interest rate and tell all the other credit card companies so that they increase your interest rates also.

So, at this time of year especially, not only do we actively support the economy of other countries at the expense of our own, but we also support the bankers. And we LOVE the bankers, don’t we… at least we do at this time of year. I call it the Holiday Banker Bailout. Without these corporate holidays, life would be a little less opulent for these parasites – parasites that delude the host into consuming what is good for the parasite, while killing the host...

© 2011 Barbara H. Peterson

DRichards's picture
DRichards 11 years 26 weeks ago

Judge strikes down Citigroup's $285 million settlement with SECI wonder how long it will take for Citigroup to buy a judge to over rule the judge?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 26 weeks ago

If you think that was bad...wait till people are clawing and biting each other over the last bits of food. Won't be long now. The empire is crumbling from within.

Lore's picture
Lore 11 years 26 weeks ago

Capitalism is not in the Constitution. We need an economy that protects Americans first, not corporations. we need to stop supporting trans-nationals == if they are not HQ'd in the USA - then they cannot get subsidies and limited tax adjustments, minimum taxes - to prevent abuses of foreign companies removing assets (money, resources, etc).

We need to support a minimum level of life == so people can be artists, perpetual students, and support limits on families === write off for 2 kids or 3 == nothing above that. Make it mandatory that fathers sign up for supporting their children with money or time.

small families, small homes, small parks, and local foods should be supported and encouraged.

people should be encouraged to have a small business. small business should get better tax adjustments then big business. mandatory manufacturing should be supported to ensure self sufficiency by state, and for federal for other requirements. self sufficiency should be a motto of communities.

There are many ways to support Americans in America and make it work == the greed is not required.

arky12's picture
arky12 11 years 26 weeks ago

This came in an e-mail today, but interestingly enough the part about large corporations buying back their stock to increase share price was a big writeup in our paper in Little Rock yesterday naming Pfizer as one who was laying off 1100 people , not due to lack of money but so they could increase the amount of share they bought back so that they could increase their personal worths. This is my own words, but you get the idea. Read on,

Ask David Dvorak, the CEO at medical device maker Zimmer Holdings, what explains his ample compensation and you may get a primer on “pay for performance.” Dvorak only “earns” bonus when his company “performs.” One measure of that performance: “earnings per share,” or company income divided by outstanding shares of stock. Execs like Dvorak have figured out they don't have to boost earnings to hit their per-share targets. They simply reduce the number of company shares — by having their companies “buy back” shares of their own stock off the open market. Zimmer last year plowed $500 million into buybacks, over double the firm's investment in R&D. U.S. corporations overall have so far this year authorized $445 billion worth of buybacks . . .

Former Presidents of the United States haven't exactly rushed to line up behind the Occupy Wall Street movement. Former Canadian prime ministers seem to be a different story. Paul Martin, a former corporate CEO and a former prime minister, believes the Occupiers “have touched a chord” on inequality. The top 1 percent? Says Martin: “That's not what built North America.” Adds the former Canadian leader: “For the last hundred years, certainly in North America, every generation has felt it’s going to have a better life than their parents. For the first time, that’s not there.”

Another surprise warrior for the world's 99 percent: Hassan Heikal, the CEO of EFG Hermes, the top investment bank in the Middle East. Last week, in a Financial Times commentary, Heikal called for a one-time “global wealth tax” of 10 to 20 percent on all individual net worth over $10 million. Proceeds from this “Tahrir Square tax” would go to the “country of citizenship” of each wealthy taxpayer. The levy, says Heikal, would raise $5 trillion. Sums up the global investment banker: “The super-rich have not paid their dues to society in recent years, and more and more of us now know it.”

Newt Gingrich, the top “idea” man among the 2012 GOP presidential candidates, has a new idea. Newt wants to bring back child labor. The former House speakertold a Harvard audience last week that “stupid” laws against child labor were preventing schools from replacing union janitors with student part-timers. This Gingrich pitch shocked America's leading advocates for kids. But America's greatest child advocate of the early 1900s, Columbia University philosopher Felix Adler, wouldn't have found Newt's remarks the least bit surprising. Adler chaired the national committee against child labor and saw a direct link between the concentration of America's wealth and the exploitation of America's kids. The chase after grand fortunes made grand miseries — “the evils of surplus wealth,” as Adler dubbed them — inevitable . . .

Just a few years ago the world's top public policy wonks considered economic growth the absolute be-all and end-all. All would be well if nations simply grew their economies. But global policy wonks today are executing an amazing about-face. Their latest advice? The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the developed world's wonk central, last week urged nations to drop any single-minded focus on growth and start worrying about inequality. Or else. Rising gaps between rich elites and the rest of society “can sow the seeds of future conflict and social unrest,” says the new OECD Social Cohesion in a Shifting World report. Both the poor and middle class, adds the study, feel “increasingly alienated from the richest.” This alienation, warns OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría, is fraying “social cohesion, the glue that holds societies together.”

Quote of the Week

“When pay for senior executives is set behind closed doors, does not reflect company success, and is fueling massive inequality, it represents a deep malaise at the very top of our society.”
Deborah Hargreaves, chair, UK High Pay Commission, November 22, 2011, upon the release of the executive pay panel's final report

Stat of the Week

The taxpayers in America's top 0.1 percent certainly do like those capital gains. They're together pulling in about half the nation's total income from the sale of stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets, notesForbes, and the richest of the rich — the Forbes 400 — can currently credit these capital gains for 60 percent of their income.

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Papachuck111's picture
Papachuck111 11 years 26 weeks ago

Most progressives know that the average American is nothing more than a mindless consumer instead of an informed enthusiastic citizen. Greed is the creed of America now and will be nearly impossible to change until the stampede (literally over people's bodies) of mindless buying goes over the cliff. The exit door is locked on this culture. The fire alarm is sounding, but few hear it over the noise of their stampeding consumerism. Ironic that most consumerism is an attempt to escape reality.

GrowthBusters's picture
GrowthBusters 11 years 26 weeks ago

Thanks for the reality check, Thom. But what made me saddest is that record spending Friday and today is celebrated without the slightest question about the cost to the planet. We are so determined and desperate to reinvigorate economic growth, the news media, elected leaders and most of the rest of us are ignoring the fact that current levels of population and consumption have us using up natural resources as though we had 1.5 planets. We don't. We are burning down the house to keep warm. Very sad.

Dave Gardner
Director, GrowthBusters 

George Reiter's picture
George Reiter 11 years 26 weeks ago

The accepted American Dream was to work hard, gain an education, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Now the American Dream is to buy a lottery ticket and hope that you win. Or, scramble at the departmant store for their crumbs that the 1% gives us. To be a Republican today, one must be rich, cruel, or ingnorant, and they are not mutually exclusive.

Icare2's picture
Icare2 11 years 26 weeks ago

Wow this is all so sad! People just don't know anymore !

jcacourt 11 years 26 weeks ago

The U.S. is a mess. I cannot believe what people are buying, how they are buying it and the steps people will take to get what they want. I do very little shopping from Thanksgiving to Christmas. When I do shop, I look for and purchase, Made in the USA.

Big business and corrupt politicians have ruined this country. I would never have believed at my age that I would be experiencing a society so opposite of the country in which I grew to adulthood. People used to care about one another. We had a society of decent people. Now, all I see are human beings acting worse than wild animals.

There is no American Dream. We're all just living by hanging on and getting through one day at a time. I find it truly sad when I see the state of our once great nation and my new place in it (which is not, I can tell you, very appealing.)

delster's picture
delster 11 years 26 weeks ago

Our family and extended relatives have cooperated in a White Elephant christmas gift and game in the last few years in order to avoid the holiday hassle. We buy gifts for the kids, but otherwise boycott the entire disgusting ritual of consumer orgy. We don't want it in our life any more than necessary. I grew up in a humble environment where folks just didn't get elborate at christmas. My father worked for a non union pulp mill for less than a living wage, and my mom was a stay at home mom. Christmas was a dpressing burdon for my Father and I never pressured my parents for frivolous toys. I usually got a few shirts or pajamas. I used to feel ashamed during the holidays knowing other kids at school would be returning after the holidays with new clothes and toys.

On one hand I would never wish for anyone to grow up with my experience of the holidays in 1950's Oregon economy, but on the other hand it has served me well to remember in the current economy.

I wonder how much of this consumerism is put on credit that will never get paid off. Are we in a deficit of human dignity as well as financial respocibility ? I think we have a long learning curve ahead of us and an extended financial depression to look forward to. I believe if republicans gain control we will suffer unspeakable financial chaos and war. Time will tell.

delster's picture
delster 11 years 26 weeks ago

A fact of reality few of us consider Dave. Truer words have seldom been spoken. Thanks for your post.

delster's picture
delster 11 years 26 weeks ago

I really do agree with you enthusiastically. Sustainability of our economy should be the rule of the day. So much of what we call progress in industry is replacing skilled jobs with machines. We must come to a decision in this land between a standard of living or quality of life. I chose quality of life. That is not to discourage clearly meanigful progress which eliminates some needless misery

of labor or deter groundbreaking education and learning. But i think I can actually get through my life without a cell phone or I Pad.

Now about capitalism. Have you noticed how the desciples of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations determine that outside their persuasion is evil and non christian . Churches have not taken very many steps to refute that information. In fact Capitalism seems to do just fine in communist nations as well as democracies. Perhaps this Captialist philiosphy of unbridled greed is the real dictatorship over the entire world governemtns institutions and religeons.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 26 weeks ago

Cynthia McKinney, interviewed on TruthJihad podcast, mentioned a 1992 BBC video called Operation Gladio.
It might help to make sense of what has been going on since WWII that has led up to the current state of the world today.

Femlin's picture
Femlin 11 years 26 weeks ago

The consumption function (or "creed of greed" as one poster noted) continues to infect society. When our fellow citizens take great pride in participating in the "running of the credit cards" . . what hope do we have, actually? I'm pretty sure more of us stayed away than shopped . . .but the media doesn't report that "the majority of our population DID NOT SHOP today."

Sanity or a 60" TV for pennies? obviously sanity loses.

Progressive Republican's picture
Progressive Rep... 11 years 26 weeks ago

"a man was pepper sprayed by police for shoplifting..." He wasn't even shoplifting. The xbox was under his shirt to keep anyone from taking it away from him. He hadn't left the store with it when he was hit by well over 2,000,000 scoville units. *Ooof*

DJ Pullstart 11 years 26 weeks ago

Black Friday should be renamed.

Clarissa Smith's picture
Clarissa Smith 11 years 26 weeks ago

The United States are NOT a very Christian country -- we are Christianity fakers. Thanksgiving I wrote an article on this on my Purgatorial Libertarian: Jesus was NOT a family man! The familiy is NOT a central message of Jesus -- on the contrary....

Currently we are in NO HOLIDAYS at all: Christian Advent means waiting for the HOLY DAYS -- waiting for the Messiah. Our St. Claus doesn't look like a saint -- that's an Easterbunny, hiding its bunny ears under a hat. This is heathendom.

Our southern fundamentalists don't make us holier, since they're hating to love the neighbor and love their money. This is heathendom.

We progressive Christians should demonstrate to all those ignorants what Christianity really means. I have decided to practice this on my political blogs, as a liberal Catholic. This is what the Occupy Movement is doing anyway: educating people. Because education is pretty much the solution. Educated individuals hardly behave like those crowds on blackfriday (no, I write it lower case).

Shark's picture
Shark 11 years 26 weeks ago

I think our society has become a modern-day Lord of the Flies. People are so desperate and uncivilized, they resort to the most common instinct in man to get what they need - violence and self preservation over all else.

evul_muzik's picture
evul_muzik 11 years 26 weeks ago

Thank you Thom for putting together another important piece and asking the important questions as usual. Thank you for bringing attention to the fact that people are getting violent as they try to gather the scraps that fall from the beards of the super rich.

Please help Sensible Washington improve Washington State's economy with jobs for industrial hemp. We send billions of dollars to Canada for hemp seeds every year. Let us keep that money in Washington in the hands of our farmers. Help Sensible Washington. Look for Sensible Washington on Facebook and Google Plus. Go to


Thank you! :)

Pulladigm's picture
Pulladigm 11 years 26 weeks ago

Here is a copy of a letter I just sent to our local paper the Mobile Press-Register. It was inspired in part by your blog Thom. Perhaps some of these barbarians will see themselves, but I doubt it. I hope I am not becoming too much of a cynic. ~;^}>

What have we become?

We have been going to the Wal*Mart in Foley(AL) on "Black Friday" for the last 3 or 4 years. We have always found it a pleasent, safe, civil, even enjoyable experience.
As we waited for the sale items to be unwrapped people were friendly, sociable and pleasant. When we lined up for a limited number of items the clerks handed out numbers to the people when they got to the number of items on sale they told the rest that they need not wait.
Oh, there were a few who tried to cut the lines. However when they were called on it they sheepishly returned to the end of the line.
In those past years we watched the news. We saw the craziness and violence at other stores. In other cities. We were thankful that we didn't live in such barbaric places.
This year the picture changed entirely. They were us. We saw a young girl trampled in the rush to get a couple of video games. A handicapped man in a motorized cart was hit over the head and a few towels were snatched from his hands. There was pushing and shoving. There was rudeness, anger hostility, violence, all sorts of barbaric behavior.
Throughout the world people are taking to the streets to gain the freedom so long denied them. They are met with violence from those that rule them. People all over this country, all over the world, are peacefully occupying public spaces to demand justice and opportunity. The promise of America. They are met with violence by the very government, the very authorities that are charged with their protection.
Yet last week we saw tens of thousands of Americans commit violence against one another, hundreds of Alabamans attacked one another, for a $2 waffle iron??
Is this the new motto for America,"Shop 'til you drop, or we dropkick you?"
Economic stimulus aside - is this really the community we want to be?? Is this the nation we want to be??
Thank you for your consideration.

The Mechanic's picture
The Mechanic 11 years 26 weeks ago

Record sales this weekend!!!!!! WOOOHOOO party time! It makes me sick to think about everything that is going on right now and this topic is of interest to anyone. Sorry to be the Scrooge but we should boycott the holiday spendgasm. Instead teach your children a more realistic meaning of the holidays. You know little things like kindness to your fellow man/woman. It's about giving MORE than receiving. The funny thing is if everyone gave more to one another we'd all receive more, huh..... Ironic.

Joe Phillips LCSW's picture
Joe Phillips LCSW 11 years 26 weeks ago

The republicans are always bitching about big government. They just voted to allow the military to arrest a US citizen and hold them without a charge or a trial for as long as they want. That sounds like big government to me. More like Big Brother.

jprogrees1's picture
jprogrees1 11 years 25 weeks ago

It may not be the nation we want but it sure is the nation we have in many ways. Take for instance the statement of a Penn State student a young woman, regarding the firing of coach Joe Paterno. She was in disaggreement with the firing over something like not reporting suspected child abuse - molestation? As if Joe Paterno's coaching status is more important than those children's lives.

TanyaCO's picture
TanyaCO 11 years 25 weeks ago

Here, here , I support your message! I didnt see the like button, so here I am , ta dahhhaa, well said, my friend!

This goes to "LORE" #6 , capitalism is hurting our social structure . We need to love and value our own citizens , with free healthcare, and food production, and vasectomies for calories program. Men who do not want to be daddies could be rewarded with the decision for vasectomy for two million calories credit card. Within one generation, men who are not interested in loving fatherhood would stop making bastards. Currently, 1/3 of children grow up with out a father figure. This is serious disfuntion within our society. Science and reason could solve the weird despair we are all suffering by a simple , loving outpaitent procedure, no bombs or bullets necessary.

:) T

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