Observing Black Friday

I've heard about Black Friday even before coming to the US. I didn't believe it. Or I would rather not believe it. Think about all those crazy shoppers. They are the voters of the United Stated, and their votes determine the fate of many of the key global issues. Would you trust their good discretion?

So I woke up at 5am and went to the mall on Black Friday 2010. Maybe I was too late, maybe it was the bad economy, the scene was not as crazy as I imagined. A regular shopping mall in China would have that many people at any time. The only remaining symbol of the crazy consumerism was a big blue tent next to the entrance of the mall.

As we walked around the mall, I checked as many labels as possible, trying to see where things are made these days. For example, in a American Eagle dealer, I see a pretty comprehensive representation of the developing world: Made in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Haiti, India, Malaysia, Mexico, etc. I was surprised to see that the same model of pants was made in three different countries. Maybe American Eagle wants to diversify its sources so that it is immuned from shock in any single country.

Looking at the shoppers in the luxurious store, I can almost conclude that the consumers here are not any smarter or more hardworking than the young girls in sweatshops in the global South. Why their fates are totally different? Why do the young girls in developing countries have to sacrifice their health and future potential to make stuff for someone else to buy and throw away? How did this happen? When and where did it start? Is there a stop? There you have a good reason for studying economics.

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