Everything That’s Wrong With America


Come Christmas, McKenna Hunt, a gregarious little girl from Safety Harbor, Fla., will receive the play kitchen and the Elmo doll she wants. But her mother, Kristen Hunt, will go without the designer jeans she covets this season.

For Ms. Hunt and for millions of mothers across the nation, this holiday season is turning into a time of sacrifice. Weathering the first severe economic downturn of their adult lives, these women are discovering that a practice they once indulged without thinking about it, shopping a bit for themselves at the holidays, has to give way to their children’s wish lists.

“I want her to be able to look back,” Ms. Hunt declared, “and say, ‘Even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.’ ”


Reyne Rice, who studies toy trends for the Toy Industry Association, said mothers do at least 80 percent of the holiday shopping in a family, and in past recessions they have been the first to do without. They tend not to get a new coat for themselves, Ms. Rice said, so they can provide for their children.


“While times are difficult, the last thing parents are going to cut from their budget is the Christmas present for their child,” said Gerald L. Storch, chairman and chief executive of Toys “R” Us. “We are not seeing price resistance for the hot toys.”

Quite possibly, this is the most appalling thing we’ve read since Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City.

When are people going to realize that the reason our economy is trashed is not merely the misdeeds of Wall Street fatcats, but the inevitable outcome of a decades-long orgy of frivolous spending and rampant consumerism by the American people??

This article dropped mere hours ago and yet we already have our pick of over a hundred scathing opinions in the NYT comment section and across the blogdome.

GAWKER, predictably fast on the draw, unloaded with both barrels:

Notice that she seems to be nicely up-to-date with last season’s pricey denim; that she is standing in a garage larger than many apartments; that it seems to be furnished with an operative extra refrigerator; and that discarded toys (from prior Christmases?) are plainly visible in plastic boxes in the background. This typifies sacrifice in America today? The coming depression is so going to eat the nation alive, and the world will laugh, because we deserve it.

NYT reader comments offered a mix of outrage and chastisement:

Arla from NYC wrote, “I am in NO WAY criticizing Ms. Hunt for her determination to bring joy to her children, for that must be the intent borne in her statement above. However, I hope for all beleaguered mothers and fathers in America, that we look to our families, children included, to look upon these years as a time when the family stood together, sacrificed together, became more unified, more loving. A child’s best memories may not, probably will not, be centered around having more “stuff.”

“Mom” from Albuquerque said, “I think that the current economic situation presents a great opportunity. As a college professor, I am seeing that the current generation is having problems thinking about and imagining things. I believe that some of the problems I see are due to lack of pretend play by the students. So, go to goodwill and buy some hats and different clothes for the kids to play in. Get them boxes to make houses out of. It’s great for them to just be kids again – it’s critical for their development. Make up stories with them, take them on hikes or to the woods. This could be the best, simplest and most rewarding Christmas of all.

Finally, Jason J. of Silver Spring pretty much sums it all up:

“I want her to be able to look back,” Ms. Hunt declared, “and say, ‘Even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.’ ”

I think that statement is symptomatic of what ails the country. To go without a pair of designer jeans is described as a sacrifice. We are raising a generation of children that think money grows on trees, don’t want to have to work (let alone work hard) for the money they spend, and, most critically, reflect the sense of entitlement that their parents have instilled in them, intentionally or otherwise.

Collectively, we are not alarmed by a government that has doubled the national debt in 8 years because our parents are not alarmed by high levels of debt. We vote for the President and the hopelessly flawed and compromised members in Congress from both parties that refuse to be responsible because they have learned through others’ hard lessons that voters punish elected officials who act fiscally responsible.

Christmas is about more than “stuff” and an excuse to shop. It is an opportunity to connect with family and show appreciation for one another.

Finally, we need to teach our children to show appreciation of others, put others’ needs ahead of their wants, and to provide them with a thorough education in financial literacy so the country can avoid a future of high debt, deteriorating quality of life (which is guaranteed to decline marginally in the future due to the national debt and a paralysis for dealing with social security and medicare funding issues that have been dubbed the untouchable “third rail”.”

Let’s all agree to go down to Florida right now and destroy little McKenna’s Christmas toys. For the good of America.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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