Apparently Buy Nothing Day is upon us.
According to the faq:
Buy Nothing Day (November 29th 2003 UK), is a simple idea, which challenges consumer culture by asking us to switch off from shopping for a day. Its a global stand off from consumerism - celebrated as a holiday by some and street party for others! Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!
Buy Nothing Day is apparently observed on different days in Europe and North America. The day of course picked for the U.S. and Canada is the day after Thanksgiving :
In Canada and USA Buy Nothing Day falls the Friday after the American Thanks Giving Day. In Europe we hold our celebration The last Saturday in November. We're always out shopping on Saturday, so it makes sense.
According to the faq, the day is about poverty and the enviroment:
What is so bad about shopping? It's not shopping in itself that's so harmful, it's what we buy. The two areas that we need to concentrate on are the environment and poverty. The rich western countries - only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth's natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and unfair distribution of wealth. We need to worry about the way our goods are produced. Increasingly large companies use labour in developing countries to produce goods because its cheap and there aren't the systems to protect workers like there are in the west.
Okay I understand the point about the environment: less consumption equals less environmental harm. While I might argue withis this in some ways, the point makes some basic sense. On the other hand the income distribution point completely eludes me. I must admit I bailed on economics after a couple of courses in college, but I don't see how people in wealthy countries spending less will even out the distribution of wealth. It seems the best way to transfer wealth is, in fact, to spend it.
One of the big supporters of this is a group called Adbusters. It appears based on their Buy Nothing All Year page that one of the things they favor is local barter based money systems. Aside from the dubious assertion that barter keeps the taxman away, I am not sure why this system is particularly better than the use of money. To the extent the argument seems to be that using such systems keeps the money out of the hands of the "evil" multinational corporations, most of the things listed as being bartered are services not generally provided by multinational corporations like carpentry or snow shoveling. In many ways all these things seem to do is set up a closed system of pricing and limit options.
Well regardless, as I despise going into stores on the day after Thanksgiving and I will be glomming off of my sister's hospitality that day, I may succeed in inadvertently observing Buy Nothing Day.
Via a link on Fembat