Consumer advocate, lawyer and author
As the end of the year approaches, so does the biggest consumer rush of the year, as millions flock to the stores and online vendors for the latest TVs, gadgets, trendy toys, clothes and more. The Friday after Thanksgiving, now popularly known as "Black Friday" has, in recent years, been hyped beyond the bounds of decency by marketers hoping to motivate thousands of people across the country to line up outside of stores in the wee hours of the morning in hope of securing discounts on big ticket items. One could even make the case that Thanksgiving is now overshadowed by the next-day shopping extravaganza -- in some communities, stores even opened on Thursday night, so intrepid shoppers could leave their holiday festivities and get right to it. And don't forget about "Cyber Monday" just days later, for those inclined to get their deals online.
The holidays, once considered a sacred time for family and celebration, have been hijacked by big companies sending out a message to the American people, playing on an endless loop from as early as November 1st all the way to the New Year: "Buy, buy, buy!" Think of all of those products that millions of Americans are purchasing as gifts for their friends and family. Where were they manufactured? Who profits from their sale? What happens to them when they break or become obsolete?
Winsted, Connecticut, where I grew up, once had about a hundred factories and fabricators -- manufacturing such things as appliances, clocks, electrical equipment, clothing and more. They were the town's lifeblood -- the gears that spurred the local economy and provided jobs and goods for the town's 10,000 residents. Almost all the factories are gone now. Someone looking for a well-paying job likely has to commute an hour to Hartford, the nearest major city.
The local economy, once the bread and butter of the United States, has been traded away in favor of the national economy -- namely, an economy driven by unpatriotic multinational corporations. The idea of a thriving Main Street has largely became a quaint relic of the past -- drive along any major roadway in the United States today and you'll see the big, bright signs of Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, one right after another. These stores and online retailers such as Amazon are the thriving businesses of today. But how does their success help most of the country?
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