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By: Jerry Nelson

The Christmas decorations fight with the Jack O’lanterns for shelf space in consumer driven America.

Before the trick or treating has started, American stores are blaring “Jingle Bells” or Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is pounding shoppers  with the weather still too warm for snow.

American holidays over-take one another. Labor Day Specials can be spotted before Independence Day. Thanksgiving preparations are on the shelf — or in the cooler — alongside burgers, fries, potato salad and other Labor Day picnic ingredients.

British artist Ben Nicholson said,

“The corruption of the American soul is consumerism.”

Lacking the consumer mindset prevalent in America, Latin Americans seems to have their priorities straight — at least when it comes to the holidays.  In South America, a “successful” Christmas is not measured by the number of presents stacked under the tree but rather by the family and friends gathered around the dinner table.

In Argentina, for example, the “Christmas shopping season” begins at noon on the 23rd and ends at eight o’clock in the evening on Christmas Eve.

In Latin America, Bing Crosby can wait his turn: Christmas Day temps average in the mid 80s- not helpful for anyone given a sled for Christmas.

What is Consumerism?

Consumerism is a social ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods in ever-increasing amounts.

The culture of consumerism in America is obvious. Note the ubiquitous ads for the latest and the greatest and the most “gee-whiz” widget(s) that everyone must have. Americans live in an era of consumerism which is all about desired-based shopping. It has nothing to do with the things individuals actually need.

Businesses seek the wealthy consumers out. The upper class’s tastes, lifestyles and preferences trickle down to become the latest “must have” standard. The not-so-wealthy rush to purchase something new that speaks to their supposed place in the tradition of affluence.

An American consumer enjoys the instant gratification of buying an expensive item in a failed attempt to impress their neighbors and improve social standing.

George Carlin said it best. “Americans buy stuff they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like.”

That’s American consumerism in 17 words.


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