It is a well-known fact amongst my friends that Black Friday is my favorite holiday. I get to see my family, enjoy a rich, home cooked meal the day prior, and bask in several days off of school and work. Friday morning, I organize my list, plug into all the best retailers online (so to avoid the mad rush at the malls), and buy gifts for the people closest to me for the holidays. The fun of it is scoping out the best deals, comparing bounties with others, and, on Black Fridays that I’m feeling adventurous, going out to the mall–not to shop, but watch mobs of people rabidly hunt for the season’s best gifts. They always make it worth my while.
Black Friday is the ultimate libertarian holiday. Consumers come out in droves to highlight capitalism at its best: it’s an ebullient festival of trade, mutual exchange, and pursuit of self-interest. It’s a day about comparing products, awesome sales, great producer/consumer relations, and making decisions. Everyone who chooses to celebrate does so in their own way—at the mall, in their home, on their computers alone, and with friends for an hour or for days—leaving each experience unique to the holiday shopper.
There is a certain irony in people who criticize Black Friday. This year, retail employees are protesting that Black Friday is starting too early. Occupy Wall Street protested last year, and is protesting again today in solidarity with Wal-Mart workers. Huffington Post argues that “It’s a sick system that robs middle class Americans of their money,” and MSN Money was quick to point out the “selfishness” of some consumers who buy gifts for themselves.
The irony is that people are choosing to participate in the “holiday,” mainly not for themselves, but for their friends and family—most purchases are for other people. In other words, Black Friday is largely a selfless holiday. These companies that are providing people with goods are also providing a means to give gifts; Christmas and Chanukah incentivize these shoppers to try to make others’ lives better. Even when people buy things for themselves, they are still benefiting other people and the economy as a whole in that they are helping to pay someone’s salary who wants to go holiday shopping too, and helps that business stay open. Black Friday’s namesake is for pushing companies into the black—or into breaking even for the year. Ultimately, Black Friday benefits America as a whole.
Yes, this governmentally unrecognized holiday keeps America going. It celebrates freedom of choice, barter, capitalism, and the season of giving. Companies aim to make products that serves people’s needs at an agreeable price (thus the awesome sales), and consumers are happy to comply because they have a need for those products. The day serves as a reminder that capitalism makes people’s lives better.