As is American tradition, Black Friday kicks off the holiday season, when retailers earn most of their revenues for the year. However, there is also a movement afoot to counteract what Black Friday critics charge is mindless consumerism: Buy Nothing Day. Participants pledge to not purchase any items on Black Friday, and to not use their car or any technological devices.
If Buy Nothing Day was a merely about educating folks to not spend beyond their means and get into excessive debt levels, I’d applaud it. Especially given the 15.7 percent black unemployment rate, people should be more cautious about their purchases. I’ve even at times shaken my head at some of the Black Friday shenanigans, like folks getting up at 5am to buy items for the Christmas season and even trampling folks to buy consumer goods. However, it’s their lives and their choices.
But Buy Nothing Day represents a much bigger agenda: Marxism.
AdBusters.org, the Canadian-based organization behind Buy Nothing Day, writes on its website: “You know what they say: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. You feel that things are falling apart – the temperature rising, the oceans churning, the global economy heaving – why not do something? Take just one small step toward a more just and sustainable future. Make a pact with yourself: go on a consumer fast. Lock up your credit cards, put away your cash and opt out of the capitalist spectacle. You may find that it’s harder than you think, that the impulse to buy is more ingrained in you than you ever realized. But you will persist and you will transcend – perhaps reaching the kind of epiphany that can change the world.” It adds: “There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.”
Buy Nothing Day is anti-economic growth. Its anti-capitalist perspective ignores that America’s prosperity is because people are rewarded for the voluntary exchange of commercial services between buyer and seller. Yet Buy Nothing Day tries to make people feel guilty for wanting to experience the fruits of their hard-earned work, whether they are a merchant or a consumer.
Buy Nothing Day is an attack on entrepreneurs, but small businesses are the productive engine that drives much of America’s economy. Of the vast majority of Americans who are not public sector employees, small businesses employ just over half of all private sector employees. Most Buy Nothing Day activists probably work for or have worked for a small business. Small businesses have also created 64 percent of new net jobs in the past 15 years in America. business – and thus economic growth – doesn’t survive without consumers.
Beyond small businesses, Wal-Mart is also one of the largest private employers of black Americans. It reached its success because it provides items that millions of consumers find valuable. When consumers buy, they help create and maintain those jobs. Profit-seeking (or what Buy Nothing Day activists would call “greed) is the incentive that has brought about the everyday products that Buy Nothing Day activists use in their own lives.
Instead of succumbing to a Buy Nothing Day, black folks should focus more on how to maximize black America’s almost $1 trillion combined GDP so that black-owned businesses are a larger part of the Black Friday tradition and can create more jobs for black America.