They call it Black Friday. I call it The Annual Running Of The Shoppers. Almost as hallowed a tradition as the day that precedes it, Black Friday is the day when the same people who a day earlier were humbly thanking and beseeching The Almighty for His past and future graces, commence stomping, pounding and treading roughshod over their fellow man to get to the merchandise. Wander into the path of this stampede and you’ll be trampled, squashed, and flattened into an exquisite section of wall-to-wall carpeting with a few teeth at one end. Remember the old song?
Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la laaa, la la la la
‘Tis the day to kick some asses,
Fa la la la laaa, la la la la…
Driving from Michigan into the south side of Chicago today, I felt as if I were suddenly swept away in a great cyclone of vehicles careening across all lanes of traffic, cutting each other off with only a hair’s clearance. Driving as if by the Divine Guidance of an Indecisive Divinity, more than one vehicle would suddenly catapult from the far left lane across five or six lanes of traffic, causing the occupants of those lanes to take evasive action, and nearly fly across the exit ramp too. I assume they all made it to their destination undeservedly safe.
Matt Drudge chronicles the blood sport of Black Friday as always: There’s the report of a gang fight at a mall in Grand Rapids. In San Antonio, a man started punching his way to the front of the line until a gentleman who was not well disposed to being punched pulled a gun on him. I like Texas. In Santa Monica, shoppers smashed through the glass doors of Urban Outfitters, injuring five in their number. Customers have been run over in the parking lot, security officers have been maced, and five men robbed a 14 year old boy outside of a Bed Bath and Beyond in Baltimore. Those who say the country is going to hell will not go wanting for evidence today.
What’s that? A tap on the shoulder and the voice of the progressive saying, “Well, what did you expect, Bourgeois Breath? I thought you liked greed!” Ah, but here he steals a base too many, because greed is the exclusive feature of neither the left nor the right. The liberal who views as greedy the entrepreneur who seeks to protect his earnings from governmental appetites, never quite sees the greed in his own forcible acquisition of the property that someone else earned. Instead, he tells the entrepreneur that, “somebody else built that,” and then makes off with the goods under the guise of egalitarianism, and at the point of an IRS gun. Besides, there are nine other commandments that mankind has been busy circumventing since Moses delivered the stone tablets.
Freedom, unmoored from the moral imperative, is license. As John Adams observed, “We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality or religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” This year’s Black Friday headlines illuminate the consequences of the disconnection of freedom from virtue, which disconnection the left has been successfully pursuing in America’s classrooms for decades. As syndicated talk show host Neal Boortz recently wrote on Twitter, “We have EXACTLY the type of people in this country today those who created our govt education system 100 years ago intended for us to have.”
The result is a sort of cultural cancer that seems all but incurable. Like the union which recently killed an entire company and over 18,000 jobs, the cancer invades and then destroys the host organization. “I really can’t afford to not be working, but this is not worth it.” said 46 year old Kenneth Johnson, an employee of Hostess until his union killed the business, adding, “I’d rather go work somewhere else or draw unemployment.” So there you have it! Destroy one business and thousands of jobs, and then move on to another company or onto the growing list of people on the public dole. At least cancer doesn’t jump from one body to the next. This is more like a locust problem.
The majority of the voting public has, as Governor Romney correctly observed, decided that it’s more blessed to receive than to give, and that receiving is certainly to be preferred over producing. Fine. Just like the union members at Hostess, they will reap the rewards. But conservatives are under no commensurate obligation to blunt our assessments or dilute our principles. We need not take seriously criticisms of greediness from public sector unions who bleed the taxpayers dry, and we are entitled to answer their claim that, “it’s for the children,” with the observation that teacher’s unions do as much in the furtherance of education as Madonna does in the furtherance of chastity. Nor should we take seriously the claims of moderates, whose moderation we just bet the country on and lost, that what we need is yet more moderation.
We ought not go quietly into the awful night that awaits, but should instead shine what light of liberty remains on the disastrous folly of the utopian and his apologists on both sides of the aisle. When the madness has run its course, perhaps enough people will be receptive to such enduring truths as that free men and free markets are practically, historically, and morally superior to the continued effronteries and failures of societies planned by self appointed masterminds. Until then, let the progressive look askance at the decidedly immoderate behavior of The Annual Running Of The Shoppers, and learn the hard way that no government program can transcend or perfect human nature.
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