At this time of year, columns like Derrick Z. Jackson's of today condemning the materialism of the Christmas shopping season are as traditional as Budweiser's Clydesdale-drawn sleigh commercial. And part of me is sympathetic with Jackson's call for people to spurn the malls and curtail their gift-giving budgets.
But this of all years, did the Boston Globe columnist consider the disastrous consequences for the economy and the lives of millions of Americans if people were actually to heed his advice? Apparently not. Jackson's radical suggestion [emphasis added]:
I have a suggestion for these holidays. The average American, according to the government, consumes six times more energy than the world average. Take whatever you spent on gifts last year, slash 5/6ths of it, and see what you can do with the rest - unless of course you make a charitable donation. You're broke anyway, right, so what's the harm?
What's the harm? Surely you jest, Z. Slashing holiday spending by 5/6ths is a sure-fire recipe for a Depression that would make the 1930s look like Dubai with oil at $147/barrel. Our Pres.-elect has that figured out. The NY Times reports that, speaking of the holiday shopping season, Sen. Obama said:
What we don’t want to do is get caught up in a spiral where people pull back from the economy, businesses then pull back, jobs are reduced.
What Jackson proposes isn't a mere pull-back from the economy—it's a mad dash in the opposite direction that would spell massive unemployment and personal and corporate bankruptcy on an unprecedented scale.
The good news is that, of course, very few will take Jackson's advice. But what does it say of his judgment to have proposed such a thing?