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More About: Economy - Economics USA

Do they know it's Christmas?

I'm a srooge. Have been all my adult life. It's not like I don't like my family, it's not like I don't enjoy giving gifts and good cheer. What's always turned me off is the extreme sanctimonious aspect of the season combined with the utter consumerism. It kind of sets the stage for the ultimate performance of cognitive dissonance, at least in my limited brain.

I might have developed an allergy at this point, as Christmas music in any commercial setting makes me irritable, then antisocial and ultimately borderline homicidal. If I looked up and saw Santa and his sleigh in the sky, I'd be tempted to wing him with bird shot. Sure would look good stuffed and mounted. And you know something? Reindeer might be managed but I don't even think Game & Fish has a specific prohibition for hunting Santa in any season.

OK fine, I might be given unto the occasional overstatement, but saying these types of things is one way guys like me have historically expressed our scrooginess. That and minimal participation in the consumer frenzy.

And that has become a problem this year. Tons of people are foregoing gifts for the spouse in order to concentrate on things for the kids. Vacation destinations are about 20% booked as opposed to near 60% norm for this time of year. I don't think airports will be a problem this season. Every day I read more bad news for retail. Car dearlerships closing by the dozen are leaving cars, hundreds of thousands of cars are backing up in storage near the ports of entry in California. The wife-entity called me the other day shouting about new HP laptops on sale for $369. If we didn't already have 3 laptops and 3 desktops, roughly a computer for every human and animal in the house, I'd have been tempted.

Oddly, I'm hearing anecdotal evidence that the wealthy are cutting back spending for a number of reasons. Certainly I have no data on the wealthy, I have not been able to corral and ear-tag a sufficient number of the wealthy to do a real study, but listening to them can be effective. I'm hearing that the wealthy like to shop when they are making money, but are less inclined to delve into their capital base. Smart. I'm also hearing the wealthy are conscious of our class hated of them. That thing about the Detroit execs coming to beg for money, each in his own private aircraft? Yes, the wealthy are conscious of mass opinion. Perhaps irrationally so and perhaps not so irrationally so.

Yes, the wealthy, being educated students of history, are not only familiar with the term "redistribution of wealth", they also have an almost instinctive, vestigial memory/fear of being bent over a barrel and being beaten to within inches of their lives by angry mobs. In a nutshell, as far as public demeanor goes, glitz and glam are out of fashion for those who can truly afford it.

The poorer and poor this year economize for more mundane reasons: there must be Christmas, be it ever so humble, and in these times that means Home For The Holidays.

My problem with the whole thing is that rich, poor and what's left of middle class alike will get to like the idea. That hanging our for even a few hours a year with the family and closest friends is worth all the travel, the cooking, the scheduling even if you don't get tons of store-bought crap under a fresh example of deforrestation.

I mean to say if you idiots find out that you still get the pictures and the memories and sometimes a chance to talk to people you haven't talked to and set things straight, or meet your new step-whatever or watch everybody google over the baby (which used to be a sound not an internet search) without all that crap, I just don't see much future in the scrooge business.

Alas, it will make us pine for the good old days when your irrational exuberance had you dreaming while you were shopping so as you held out that perfect sweater for Him, we could just drift up close behind you and whisper in your ear "he's cheating on you" and drift away.

Then there's that good old stand by, ghost a shopper and sneakily replace all of their clothing items with ones of a different size. That's kind of a derivative of replacing their batteries with the wrong ones.

One time one of us got a Santa suit and had a good time being a highly publicly intoxicated Santa who begged for money for alcohol. Pity this was in the day before cheap camcorders. But then another buddy one-upped him by going out in the full Santa suit and standing by the offramp with a "will work for food" sign. We got pics of that. He made Christmas cards. That was pretty high-level scrooge right there.

See, that's what stands to be lost if everybody realizes that holidays aren't made in shopping malls. We'll have one less factor by which to measure my own scrooginess. Our whole market differentiation is in jeopardy. You are invading our space and it will push us out into a whole new enhanced level of active scrooginess where we run up and pee on your bushes and shout "ho ho ho" and run away. I dunno. Everybody's business is taking a hit this year and us scrooges are no different. We're just experimenting with new product lines, trying to find our market again.

One idea is the "scrooge for hire" deal, for $200 bucks we'll take responsibility for having stolen all your Christmas presents so you have something to tell the kids. For anyone who spent over $2k last year, that's a real bargain. Nothings set in stone yet.

We might just go with a traditional "Ba Humbug" with the modern twist of "End The Fed" tacked onto it. I really don't know. Times like these, you just hold onto what's dear to you and you hope you make it through.

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