Fuck no, I'm not in
Doesn’t Christmas spending stimulate our stagnant economy and speed our recovery from the recession? If you believe organizations like Made in America, it’s our patriotic duty to spend money over the holidays. The exhortation from their website reads, “If each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs. Now we want to know, are you in?”
Gee, where have I heard "Are you in?" before?
That depends once again on whether or not we take the long view. Christmas spending might create a few temporary, low-wage, part-time jobs without benefits of the kind described in Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America, but it’s not likely to create lasting economic health, especially if we fail to consider the long-term environmental and social costs of our short-term consumer spending sprees. The answer to Made in America’s question depends on the validity of the economic model we use to assess their spurious claim, as Mathbabe has argued time and again in this blog. The logic of infinite growth as an unequivocal net good is the same logic that underlies such flawed economic models as the Gross National Product (GNP) and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
These myopic measures fail to take into account the value of the natural resources from which our consumer products are manufactured. In this accounting system, when an old-growth forest is clearcut to make way for a Best Buy parking lot, that’s counted as an unequivocal economic boon since the economic value of the lost trees/habitat is not considered as a debit. Feminist economist and former New Zealand parliamentarian Marilyn Waring explains the idea accessibly in this documentary: Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies, and Global Economics.
If we were to adopt a model that factors in the lost value of nonrenewable natural resources, such as the proposed Green National Product, we might skip the stampede at Walmart and go for a walk in the woods instead to stimulate the economy.
NOTE And while we're at it, leaving aside the pathetically 200,000, it it's our patriotic duty to shop, how long before it's mandated? I've never been able to draw a bright line between being mandated to participate in the health insurance market and being mandated to participate in any other market.