Boycott or Buycott?

The Occupy Wall Street folks are planning to “occupy” publicly traded retailers in their efforts to protest American big business.  They are calling for boycotts to stop corporate profits.  In response, Tea Party folks are calling for everyone to go out on so-called Black Friday to buy lots of stuff, thereby supporting American business and helping the economy.

Anti-Occupy Wall Street” groups are taking on the protesters of “Occupy Black Friday” with “BUYcott Black Friday.”

Liberate Philadelphia/Liberate America, a Tea Party coalition of groups countering the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, are challenging the latest move by Occupy Wall Street protesters to occupy or boycott publicly traded retailers on Black Friday by instead encouraging consumers to shop on Black Friday to help the economy recover.

“At a time when our economy is most fragile and ratings agencies are talking about another downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, it’s completely irresponsible for Occupy Wall Street to attempt to bring the U.S. economy to a halt on the busiest shopping day of the year,” Liberate organizer and a spokesman for the Tea Party, John Sullivan, stated in a press release.

via Tea Party Activists Challenge ‘Occupy Black Friday’ With ‘BUYcott Black Friday’ – CNBC.

If any of you witness any Occupying when you go out for the pre-Christmas sales, please report it here.

My own sense is that any attempt on the part of Occupiers to camp out at Walmarts, Targets, and Best Buys and to interfere with people trying to buy Christmas presents will turn the actual 99% of Americans decisively against them.  And that Democratic politicians, including the president, who came out in support of the Occupiers will rue the day.

Since part of what is holding our economy back is reportedly the lack of consumer spending, would it be a patriotic gesture to spend a lot this Christmas?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fws

    ” would it be a patriotic gesture to spend this christmas”

    According to the Confessions and Luther, God’s will for our life here on earth is for us to manage our affairs well. The entire purpose of doing that is so that we are able to serve others with what we receive over and above what we need for ourselves and our families we are committed to support.

    We are to look to earn what we need to live very modestly, and to give the rest of what we earn away.

    Luther was of the opinion that we should not store up money for the future or take on insurance but rather trust God to provide what we need for the future.

    Luther was especially critical of those who think it is moral to charge as much as the market will bear. He called this sin and greed. I am in FULL agreement on this, and also I am in full agreement that the point of life is to be able to give to others.

    I am not so sure about his (and Walther’s) ideas on insurance and taking interest on loans. I think those things can be sinful or God-pleasing depending on our motives and the results.

    I am MOST certain about one thing: these Law things need to be preached to us in such a way, especially today, that we realize how very far we are from keeping the intent and spirit of the Law as to the use of our material goods.

    We today focus on what our rights are.

    We don’t see that our duty is to give sacrificially to the poor and that they have a real and constant and moral claim to our wealth and that it is not moral to withold anything at all from them beyond what we need to maintain a modest living and existence.

    Who lives this way? No one I know! But it is still what the Law of God demands of us.

  • fws

    ” would it be a patriotic gesture to spend this christmas”

    According to the Confessions and Luther, God’s will for our life here on earth is for us to manage our affairs well. The entire purpose of doing that is so that we are able to serve others with what we receive over and above what we need for ourselves and our families we are committed to support.

    We are to look to earn what we need to live very modestly, and to give the rest of what we earn away.

    Luther was of the opinion that we should not store up money for the future or take on insurance but rather trust God to provide what we need for the future.

    Luther was especially critical of those who think it is moral to charge as much as the market will bear. He called this sin and greed. I am in FULL agreement on this, and also I am in full agreement that the point of life is to be able to give to others.

    I am not so sure about his (and Walther’s) ideas on insurance and taking interest on loans. I think those things can be sinful or God-pleasing depending on our motives and the results.

    I am MOST certain about one thing: these Law things need to be preached to us in such a way, especially today, that we realize how very far we are from keeping the intent and spirit of the Law as to the use of our material goods.

    We today focus on what our rights are.

    We don’t see that our duty is to give sacrificially to the poor and that they have a real and constant and moral claim to our wealth and that it is not moral to withold anything at all from them beyond what we need to maintain a modest living and existence.

    Who lives this way? No one I know! But it is still what the Law of God demands of us.

  • fws

    for those who respond with the idea that the poor are poor , largely, through their own fault I would respond thussly:

    1) we are to do goodness and mercy. Mercy is always underserved. Justice is what we deserve, which is usually something harsh and severe that looks like survival of the fittest.

    2) If you can’t find poor who you think truly “deserve’ your goodness and mercy, then find some other charity to contribute your excess to… could be your church, could be a hospital, some organization serving the blind or physically disabled or those with cancer.

    3) there is simply NO excuse or loophole morally or scripturally that will excuse one’s conscience from giving generously rather than storing up wealth.

    4) Lord have mercy upon us all on this point of what God demands of all of us.

  • fws

    for those who respond with the idea that the poor are poor , largely, through their own fault I would respond thussly:

    1) we are to do goodness and mercy. Mercy is always underserved. Justice is what we deserve, which is usually something harsh and severe that looks like survival of the fittest.

    2) If you can’t find poor who you think truly “deserve’ your goodness and mercy, then find some other charity to contribute your excess to… could be your church, could be a hospital, some organization serving the blind or physically disabled or those with cancer.

    3) there is simply NO excuse or loophole morally or scripturally that will excuse one’s conscience from giving generously rather than storing up wealth.

    4) Lord have mercy upon us all on this point of what God demands of all of us.

  • Tom Hering

    “Is the best in life passing you by because you still don’t have a big screen, high-definition TV? Get the electronics you deserve!” – Tronix Country commercial.

    “(AP) LOS ANGELES – A woman shot pepper spray to keep shoppers from merchandise she wanted during a Black Friday sale, and 20 people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.” – CBS News 11/25/2011.

  • Tom Hering

    “Is the best in life passing you by because you still don’t have a big screen, high-definition TV? Get the electronics you deserve!” – Tronix Country commercial.

    “(AP) LOS ANGELES – A woman shot pepper spray to keep shoppers from merchandise she wanted during a Black Friday sale, and 20 people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.” – CBS News 11/25/2011.

  • http://abitibibob.hubpages.com/ Bob Hunter

    I don’t know if it’s patriotic or not, but if you think it is, kindly send me the money so I too can be patriotic.

  • http://abitibibob.hubpages.com/ Bob Hunter

    I don’t know if it’s patriotic or not, but if you think it is, kindly send me the money so I too can be patriotic.

  • Michael B.

    So the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t care if it impedes Christmas Corporate Profit? Truly the Occupy movement rushes in where God’s holy angels angels fear to tread.

    One would think that the phenomenon that is the American Christmas Shopping Season would be far more opposed by the Right than the Left. Isn’t Christmas supposed to be about celebrating the birth of a savior who gave the greatest gift? Instead, people are more excited about getting a Walmart flat-screen tv on sale. Isn’t that at all sacrilegious? The media and corporations will tell you what products you need to buy this Christmas to make it complete. Doesn’t what Christ purchased deserve even a mention?

    And what about debt? The Bible says the debtor is the servant of the lender. Our nation and its people are racked by debt, and they’re being encouraged to go out and buy stuff they don’t need and will only bring a fleeting moment of happiness.

    Finally, what about the retail workers who have to spend their entire Christmas season working and away from their families because people want to shop? Apparently Walmart opened at 9PM yesterday so the retail workers couldn’t even spend Thanksgiving with their families.

  • Michael B.

    So the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t care if it impedes Christmas Corporate Profit? Truly the Occupy movement rushes in where God’s holy angels angels fear to tread.

    One would think that the phenomenon that is the American Christmas Shopping Season would be far more opposed by the Right than the Left. Isn’t Christmas supposed to be about celebrating the birth of a savior who gave the greatest gift? Instead, people are more excited about getting a Walmart flat-screen tv on sale. Isn’t that at all sacrilegious? The media and corporations will tell you what products you need to buy this Christmas to make it complete. Doesn’t what Christ purchased deserve even a mention?

    And what about debt? The Bible says the debtor is the servant of the lender. Our nation and its people are racked by debt, and they’re being encouraged to go out and buy stuff they don’t need and will only bring a fleeting moment of happiness.

    Finally, what about the retail workers who have to spend their entire Christmas season working and away from their families because people want to shop? Apparently Walmart opened at 9PM yesterday so the retail workers couldn’t even spend Thanksgiving with their families.

  • SAL

    Generally speaking I think OWS are doofuses. However their naive rashness has accidently led them to something positive. The selfishness and commercialism on display today is writ large the trait that causes most of the worst aspects of capitalism.

  • SAL

    Generally speaking I think OWS are doofuses. However their naive rashness has accidently led them to something positive. The selfishness and commercialism on display today is writ large the trait that causes most of the worst aspects of capitalism.

  • SKPeterson

    I have no intention whatsoever to brave the madness today. I’ve already seen reports out of LA of a woman using pepper spray on other shoppers to keep them away from “her” bargains. God help the poor OWS folks who get in her (and others like her) way. Maybe the OWS folks could do some good and ring a few bells for the Salvation Army, or ask people to donate there. That might put them in a more positive light – encouraging people to give to the less fortunate.

  • SKPeterson

    I have no intention whatsoever to brave the madness today. I’ve already seen reports out of LA of a woman using pepper spray on other shoppers to keep them away from “her” bargains. God help the poor OWS folks who get in her (and others like her) way. Maybe the OWS folks could do some good and ring a few bells for the Salvation Army, or ask people to donate there. That might put them in a more positive light – encouraging people to give to the less fortunate.

  • Tom Hering

    It’s now reported that the woman used her pepper spray in response to other shoppers pushing and shoving her and her two small children. Nevertheless, an ugly story.

    MSNBC is tracking incidents around the country:

    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/25/9012057-black-friday-violence-2-shot-in-armed-robberies-15-others-pepper-sprayed

  • Tom Hering

    It’s now reported that the woman used her pepper spray in response to other shoppers pushing and shoving her and her two small children. Nevertheless, an ugly story.

    MSNBC is tracking incidents around the country:

    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/25/9012057-black-friday-violence-2-shot-in-armed-robberies-15-others-pepper-sprayed

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Stupid and crazy. Both of them. Basically, boycotting brings the economy down, and then not even a 100% tax will save the Owsies (my name for then, copyrighted, sorry). And indiscriminate spending will create another big disaster – credit card bubble or something like that.

    No – paying down debt and responsible spending – knowing that both benefits your fellow man. And call me hard-nosed, but job creation is the best charity anyway.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Stupid and crazy. Both of them. Basically, boycotting brings the economy down, and then not even a 100% tax will save the Owsies (my name for then, copyrighted, sorry). And indiscriminate spending will create another big disaster – credit card bubble or something like that.

    No – paying down debt and responsible spending – knowing that both benefits your fellow man. And call me hard-nosed, but job creation is the best charity anyway.

  • Tom Hering

    That’s not being hard-nosed, Klasie, unless you’re starting with the assumption that most people without a job don’t want one.

  • Tom Hering

    That’s not being hard-nosed, Klasie, unless you’re starting with the assumption that most people without a job don’t want one.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Tom, having family that have spent considerable amounts of their time with the “poor”, “jobless”, “hungry” etc., I have learnt that there is a very large number of those that simply do not want a job. Newer research here in North America also points to extremely unrealistic expectations amongst the younglings, thus they are often not prepared to slog it out for inferior pay in inferior positions. Or they do not want to face the realities of the jobmarket: There are more job openings for well site operators in the oil patch in Alberta/SK than there are for gender studies sociologists in Miami…

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Tom, having family that have spent considerable amounts of their time with the “poor”, “jobless”, “hungry” etc., I have learnt that there is a very large number of those that simply do not want a job. Newer research here in North America also points to extremely unrealistic expectations amongst the younglings, thus they are often not prepared to slog it out for inferior pay in inferior positions. Or they do not want to face the realities of the jobmarket: There are more job openings for well site operators in the oil patch in Alberta/SK than there are for gender studies sociologists in Miami…

  • Tom Hering

    Klasie, what do you mean by a “a very large number”? A minority of the jobless (and if so, how small) or a majority of the jobless (and if so, how large)?

  • Tom Hering

    Klasie, what do you mean by a “a very large number”? A minority of the jobless (and if so, how small) or a majority of the jobless (and if so, how large)?

  • Patrick Kyle

    This whole post shows that what should be a personal decision based on wisdom and sound stewardship can be co-opted by our culture into political and economic ‘statements’ for or against some cause or ideology. So now if I shop, I am siding with Wall Street, and if I don’t I am siding with OWS.

    At least for my family, our shopping decisions are an attempt to to wisely use what God has given us.

    Still, we do not support sales and promotions that result in employees working on holidays or working insane retail hours on Black Friday weekend

  • Patrick Kyle

    This whole post shows that what should be a personal decision based on wisdom and sound stewardship can be co-opted by our culture into political and economic ‘statements’ for or against some cause or ideology. So now if I shop, I am siding with Wall Street, and if I don’t I am siding with OWS.

    At least for my family, our shopping decisions are an attempt to to wisely use what God has given us.

    Still, we do not support sales and promotions that result in employees working on holidays or working insane retail hours on Black Friday weekend

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Klasie – sorry, no statistics available. But a large number as in “many of the folks they helped did not really want..”. Basically, the word on the ground.

    PK – that is the unfortunate reality. One can always shop some other time, I guess.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Klasie – sorry, no statistics available. But a large number as in “many of the folks they helped did not really want..”. Basically, the word on the ground.

    PK – that is the unfortunate reality. One can always shop some other time, I guess.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sorry – I meant to address Tom in that previous comment. I’m not busy with interesting soliloquy.. at least, I don’t think I am?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sorry – I meant to address Tom in that previous comment. I’m not busy with interesting soliloquy.. at least, I don’t think I am?

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  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Family financial stability trumps our patriotic duty to stimulate the economy by participating in crass materialism this year. Besides, we shot our wad going to the Bible Bee in Nashville (Downtown hotel = expensive), hitting a deer in Arkansas on the way (costing more than $500 to get the car running again), and still need to buy gas and motels to get home again…

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Family financial stability trumps our patriotic duty to stimulate the economy by participating in crass materialism this year. Besides, we shot our wad going to the Bible Bee in Nashville (Downtown hotel = expensive), hitting a deer in Arkansas on the way (costing more than $500 to get the car running again), and still need to buy gas and motels to get home again…

  • anonymous

    Mike Westfall, I agree with you about materialism, but I think part of your post could be reworded.

  • anonymous

    Mike Westfall, I agree with you about materialism, but I think part of your post could be reworded.

  • Tom Hering

    I think Mike meant “we blew our wad” – not “we put a bullet hole through our wad.” Best construction. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    I think Mike meant “we blew our wad” – not “we put a bullet hole through our wad.” Best construction. :-D

  • http://mikeerich.blogspot.com Mike Erich The Mad Theologian

    I am all in favor of spending our money responsibly and helping the poor rather then buying or refusing to buy to help the economy or hurt wall street. Economic issues are complex, but simplistic solutions are not the answer.

  • http://mikeerich.blogspot.com Mike Erich The Mad Theologian

    I am all in favor of spending our money responsibly and helping the poor rather then buying or refusing to buy to help the economy or hurt wall street. Economic issues are complex, but simplistic solutions are not the answer.

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  • helen

    I will not shop for “Christmas gifts” . I will contribute to the various Lutheran entities whose envelopes reside in my file until I have money for them. No, I will not engage in, “Merry Christmas! I took a tax deduction in your honor, for a gift to …..[Lutheran RSO].” I will just donate, as I am able.

    All this is not what Christmas is about to me. It is about Advent and Christmas Eve. It is about Christmas music (not Muzak) when the Christmas season arrives, which is after Advent. It is about Word and Sacrament.
    In the absence of scattered relatives, one’s church family is there.

  • helen

    I will not shop for “Christmas gifts” . I will contribute to the various Lutheran entities whose envelopes reside in my file until I have money for them. No, I will not engage in, “Merry Christmas! I took a tax deduction in your honor, for a gift to …..[Lutheran RSO].” I will just donate, as I am able.

    All this is not what Christmas is about to me. It is about Advent and Christmas Eve. It is about Christmas music (not Muzak) when the Christmas season arrives, which is after Advent. It is about Word and Sacrament.
    In the absence of scattered relatives, one’s church family is there.

  • Suzanne

    Michael #5 You said “One would think that the phenomenon that is the American Christmas Shopping Season would be far more opposed by the Right than the Left. ” One would think that, but the Right now uses religion and so called family values to promote capitalism and fill their coffers.
    I am weary to no end of people complaining that some pimple faced clerk at Target didn’t wish them a Merry Christmas, and these are usually the people who promote consumerist capitalism the most. If saying “Happy Holidays” brings in a few more customers, especially those who are non-Christians, then that is what stores will do. It’s all about the money, people, and you are deluded if you thing otherwise.
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/im-dreaming-of-a-fight-this-christmas pretty much spells it out.

  • Suzanne

    Michael #5 You said “One would think that the phenomenon that is the American Christmas Shopping Season would be far more opposed by the Right than the Left. ” One would think that, but the Right now uses religion and so called family values to promote capitalism and fill their coffers.
    I am weary to no end of people complaining that some pimple faced clerk at Target didn’t wish them a Merry Christmas, and these are usually the people who promote consumerist capitalism the most. If saying “Happy Holidays” brings in a few more customers, especially those who are non-Christians, then that is what stores will do. It’s all about the money, people, and you are deluded if you thing otherwise.
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/im-dreaming-of-a-fight-this-christmas pretty much spells it out.

  • Tom Hering

    The problem with Black Friday is that it negates Thanksgiving. On the Thursday designated as the day of giving thanks for what we have, we’re already thinking about what we don’t have – and want to get on Friday. Or, now, Thursday night!

  • Tom Hering

    The problem with Black Friday is that it negates Thanksgiving. On the Thursday designated as the day of giving thanks for what we have, we’re already thinking about what we don’t have – and want to get on Friday. Or, now, Thursday night!

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