When I watched shoppers on Black Friday rioting over discount wash towels and then see hi-definition televisions being scooped up like bags of potato chips, I start to wonder.
My thoughts turn to what would happen if true shortages started showing up. What would happen if people had to wait at midnight for their needs as opposed to their wants.
During the roaring 20’s, advertising came into vogue.
The consumer was convinced that their wants were actually their basic needs. Never mind the consumer could not afford his or her most recent desire.
The layaway plan was being developed to solve the immediate cash problem. We’ve evolved from layaway to credit cards and now back to layaway, one big circle.
Everyone getting whatever they want; it has become the great American way. It would seem little has changed over the past 90 years.
Madison Avenue still convinces us that the newest iPad or iPhone or iWhatever makes our life worth living and without these devices, well, it simply can’t happen.
Unfortunately, the access to home equity is gone, credit cards are maxed, and job security is questionable.
However, the craving for “want” satisfaction is greater than ever.
Whatever it takes, from strategic default to increased indebtedness, the insatiable “want” desire will be satisfied, and therein lies the rub.
Most of what is being purchased is manufactured somewhere else in the world. The excitement of Black Friday sends more jobs overseas and less at home which leads to smaller margins resulting in more bankruptcies.
The confusion of want and need will ultimately lead us to a decimated economy that will have high unemployment and a desperation that will make the Atlanta Walmart towel incident mild by comparison.
Madison Avenue in the 20’s said you can have it, you can have it all, and they still say the same thing.
But you can’t.
The ultimate outcome of the 30’s was the elimination of wants being replaced by the day-to-day struggle of life-sustaining needs.
The day will come when lines will be forming at midnight, not for the most recent digital gadget, but for the most recent distribution of bread.
Can’t happen? Impossible?
That’s what they said in the 1930’s.