Why Black Friday is a bad sign for America

After filling up on turkey and stuffing, millions of Americans flocked to some of the nation’s biggest retailers this year for Black Friday savings. They stood in line for hours for a chance to grab deals like $199 for a 50-inch HDTV, or $29 for a 7-inch Android tablet. But millions of Americans lining up for bargain deals on the latest electronics isn’t a good thing. It’s a sign of the deterioration of America.

Every time a line wraps around a building on Black Friday, it’s a sign of the bad things happening in America. Every time hysterical people start yelling at each other over a flat-screen TV deal on Black Friday, it’s a bad sign for America. And, every time a stampede breaks out when store doors open on Black Friday, it’s a bad sign for America.

As Alan Pyke points out over at the Think Progress blog, “For millions of low-income and middle-class families, the day’s deals are a necessity not a luxury. Wages have stagnated for working families since the turn of the century, producing a “lost decade” for working people’s quality of life. The slow recovery from the Great Recession has been driven mostly by low-wage job growth rather than by a resurgence in the kinds of jobs that provide enough headroom for a family to treat Black Friday as optional.”

So, just how bad has it gotten for working-class Americans?

Well, it’s gotten so bad that the American Dream is now pretty much officially dead. That’s according to Gregory Clark, a researcher at the University of California-Davis, who found that social mobility, one of the bedrocks of the American Dream, is at historic lows. Clark told KOVR-TV that, “America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden. That’s the most difficult part of talking about social mobility, is because it is shattering people’s dreams.”

The speed with which Reaganomics and Clinton's Free Trade policies have pushed the decline of the American middle-class is truly startling.

For example, a study by the Russell Sage Foundation found that the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Just ten years later, it was only $56,335. Similarly, median household income has fallen by nearly 8% since 2000, and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle-class is taking home a smaller share of overall income in America than ever before.

One of the reasons for that is because good jobs and good wages have disappeared. According to the New America Foundation, back in 1980 less than 30% of all jobs in the U.S. were low-income jobs. Today, over 40% of all jobs in the U.S. are low-income jobs. Meanwhile, 60% of the jobs lost during the Great Recession were mid-wage jobs, but they've been replace with low-wage jobs - 58% of the jobs created in the recovery have been these typically service-sector low-wage jobs.

The bottom-line here is that we no longer have an economy that can support a middle class. We have an economy that works only for the wealthy elite. And, despite what you might hear on the news, long lines on Black Friday aren’t something we should celebrate or cheer on like a spectator sport. They're a tragedy. They’re ongoing and irrefutable proof that millions and millions of Americans are struggling to survive and provide for their families, while finding the American Dream has become, since Reagan, increasingly harder, if not impossible, to achieve.

Over the past 34 years, our economy has changed from one that works for all Americans to one that only serves the richest few, and that needs to change. We need to bring back an American economy that works for everyone, and that starts by repealing the Reagan tax cuts, bringing back our unions, and getting rid of so-called free trade deals. Only then will all Americans have an equal shot at success.


DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 26 weeks ago

We can start making that a reality by putting out the fire of the TPP. According to this article by the Huffington Post, We only have till January 1st to make our opposition felt amongst the latest Congress. After January 1st they will be inundated with Corporate Lobbyists and unable to hear the will of their constituencies. Act now and make your voices heard this month.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 26 weeks ago

Thanks for the article, Marc! I've called our senator and representative on this before and will be sure to do it again.

That President Obama is hellbent on ramming this thing through in secret is sufficient proof that he is anything but the person we voted for. It is hard to imagine anything more anti-democratic and a greater threat to what remains of our quality of life here in America. I'd like to see Obama charged with high treason; not only for pushing this obscene, dangerous piece of crap, but for trying to sneak it past us on the sly.

The older I get, the harder it is for me to trust any politician anymore, this being a classic case in point. - AIW

P.S. How what, Howard?

Al Alpert's picture
Al Alpert 8 years 26 weeks ago

Hello all,

Rember when Ross Peroit heard this great big sucking sound ? Well, now we the people have heard it also !

It is time to tell Pres. Obama NO to any Fast Tracking-of TPP, -Keystone Pipe Line,- or any other Corp. Progects. Tell Pres. Obama that it is time to grow a pair and stand up for the PEOPLE, after all his legacy will depend on him doing just that.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 8 years 26 weeks ago

Massive advertising of Pay to Play would expand knowledge of and prompt abolition of corruption.

where is that documentary? Netflix?

Maybe it takes time for enough viewers to spread it by word of mouth.
It belongs on MSNBC on regular rotation.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 8 years 26 weeks ago

How do we bring America back to pre Reagan economic powerhouse glory.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 8 years 26 weeks ago

Eliminating Lobbyists/Citizens Ununited/Corruption would bring the USA back to it's glory days, 50's, 60's and 70's.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 26 weeks ago

Regarding Reaganomics destroying the United States Empire.....In my opinion, the outrage in Ferguson is just as much about economic injustice as it is about the injustice of an armed man gunning down an unarmed man.

I just wish all this justified outrage across the country had manifested itself at the polls a few weeks ago. I'm thinking more and more that the talking point, the two parties are the same, so why vote, is something Rove behind the scenes has planted in the minds of many.

Shawno Buzzello's picture
Shawno Buzzello 8 years 26 weeks ago

Thanks to Thom Hartmann and all of his wonderful books and blogs, along with all of his well informed well informed and commentators here at Thom's website. With articles like this one, we have all of the necessary informaton based on the facts and truth's of whats really happening right here in the United States. It's up to all of us to pass this information on to everyone we know regardless of their predetermined thoughts, political party and idealogy. I will pass this on, and so should you. Thank you Thom for all of the great work you do!

olushola's picture
olushola 8 years 26 weeks ago

Many if not most of those Black males and females as well in Ferguson can't vote, as well as can't get a job and housing for that matter. The reason is because they have a felony record, thanks to the War on Drugs campaign. They have become the untouchables and are clearly out of sight of most Americans. To be fair, many Whites and Latinos are also in this situation. That's why it irks me to hear the MSM talk about a conversation about race. What really needs to happen is to first remove the felonies from those convicted on a non violent charge.

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 26 weeks ago

We, the people of the United States of America elect government officials that favor businesses over workers. That is the problem with the United States. We are seduced into voting for these people in many ways. One way is by telling us of their strong religious convictions and that they are pro-life. Another way is by telling us that they support the second amendment and that they will oppose restrictions on guns. These are but a sample of the ways that we are seduced into voting for our elected officials. When they get into office, sure enough, they oppose abortion and anti gun legeslation but when it comes to legeslation that would help workers, they screw us royally. In my state of Mississippi an $8 per hour state minimum wage proposal was introduced in the state legeslature in 2013. It died in committee. In 2014, legeslation prohibiting the establishment of a minimum wage in the state or any county, city or agency within the state was introduced in the state legeslature. It passed. In my former state of Tennessee legeslation requiring journeymaen plumbers to be tested and licensed was introduced. It didn't pass. In Tennessee, anyone with a state plumbing contractors license can hire anyone off of the street to install or repair plumbing, no license required. No decent wages are required to be paid by the contractor either. Federal state and local governments have passed laws restricting unions, workers rights, and wages from coast to coast. In my little plumbers local union 17, Memphis Tennessee, we get just enough raises to keep up with the cost of our benefits. We, the people, elect our representitives that allow our jobs to leave the country and keep our wages and standard of living down but at least we have guns. We may need them to keep from starving to death.

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 8 years 26 weeks ago

I hope this disappointing Black Friday is a clue to the clueless corporate retail world--maybe they will wake up to their greediness. We looked through the ads after Thanksgiving dinner and didn't see anything worth fighting crowds for--the so-called deals were no better than they were the week before in most cases. When YOUR CONSUMERS DON'T HAVE MONEY THEY CANNOT SPEND MONEY AND ADD TO YOUR PROFIT--HELLO, WAKE UP!

I am an artist and crafter and I have to shop at Joann Fabric for most of my supplies (although I have been looking elsewhere). Their prices have become so overbloated that I cannot afford to shop there without the coupons and discounts and after-season sales they feature. Who can pay $49.99 for a cheap column glass jar/candleholder (no candle inside--you have to buy that separate) with a winter scene painted on it? Most of their stuff is made in China. I did complain in their survey.

An aside: My husband and I were watching the Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC last night. (We've watched in my house every year since it came out in 1965.) He noticed all the cuts/edits to make time for commericals--isn't commercialism the whole theme of Charlie Brown Christmas? ABC/Disney is wacked out--and super greedy as well. This program should be run in its entirety, without commercials.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 8 years 26 weeks ago

2950-10K, it actually looks like voter turnout was up in those states where incumbent Democratic senators lost--AK, CO, AR, LA, and NC, though it was also up in NH, where Shaheen won. This is compared to 2010. http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/11/05/midterm-turnout-decreased-in-all-but-12-states

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 26 weeks ago

The problem is the two party duopoly. Even I felt a need to vote Republican this last time and I would never vote for one of those.

My House rep. is John Quigley, one of the sponsors of TPP. I sure wasn't gonna vote for him! Fortunately there was a Green Party candidate for the seat (who I know personally and also dislike - but not as seriously).

The votes this last time were not for Republicans but against Democrats. Unfortunately, the only choice people in the U.S. have when they are unhappy is to go "from the frying pan to the fire".

That is why people don't vote, not so much because they think the parties are so identical.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 26 weeks ago

Mathboy, turnout was up but how many were turned away?

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 26 weeks ago

In my opinion citizens didn't vote because the Fascist controlled media has both frustrated and bewildered many into thinking their votes have zero impact on unending policy that beneifits only a fraction of the top one percent. Again, check the congressional voting record if you think both parties are identical....this from a staunch Democratic Socialist. Obama and many of the Dems in office simply refuse to go on offense! This leaves them in a constant state of defense, and thus the public perception of weak leadership.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 26 weeks ago

mathboy; "Overall," voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest turnout in 70 years. If in fact it was up in the states you mentioned, I'm willing to bet it was still only 3 out of 10 voting. The expensive right wing lies aired near election time seem to scare just enough vulnerable citizens into voting against their own best interests.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 26 weeks ago

Mark: Why would any even mildly informed Democrat leaning citzen vote for a Republican just to vote against a Democrat? I'm thinking this group you speak of is quite small.

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