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Consumerism gone mad turns fatal

By Scott Tibbs, December 4, 2008

From CBS News, an account of a nightmarish scene at a Wal-Mart on "black Friday", the biggest shopping day of the year and the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.

Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store.

It got worse, as shoppers "became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death."

What is wrong with people? How much of a self-centered, self-worshipping egomaniac do you have to be to step over someone who has been knocked to the ground and is getting trampled? What kind of mentality leads you to run over store employees who are trying to reach their downed comrade and rescue him from furter harm?

I do not place all blame for this tragedy on consumerism gone mad. To some extent, this is the result of a mob mentality. Many people will do things in a mob that they would never even consider doing otherwise. The mob provides a sense of anonymity and it is easy for emotions to run high and rational thought to be repressed. Of course, nothing excuses this kind of despicable behavior.

But the core of this story is rampant consumerism. I am a defender of the free market and I believe that individuals and businesses are far more capable of making good decisions than government. From an economic standpoint, greed is good because that is what motivates people to grow business and create jobs. The profit motive is the fuel that drives the economy. But this kind of excess is sick and depraved.

It is a tragic irony that this madness takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Someone who is truly thankful for what he has does not rip the doors off their hinges at a Wal-Mart so he can save a few dollars on a new DVD player or video game system.

This isn't the only example of bad behavior. In my hometown, two women got into a fistfight over a motorized toy at the Wal-Mart and police had to be called to break it up. Neither woman got the toy, but they did get to ride in a police car. Shameful.