Holiday Economy Examined
What our present economy has to do with 165,300 bathroom visits and 67 million dead large birds.
By Maria Popova
2008 has come and gone, as has the drawn out celebration of excess, consumerism and gluttony known as the “holiday season.” A time when love and appreciation are exchanged between family and friends, they say, but really a time when money is exchanged between various cogs in the great big machine of Capitalism.
In case last night’s debauchery has left you too lazy to click and see for yourself, some noteworthy numbers from the holiday season’s economic footprint:
- $19.8 billion spent on computer and video game console and accessories during November and December of 2007. (And with the epic build-up for Grand Theft Auto 4, Resident Evil 5 and Rock Band, we bet the numbers would be much higher for 2008.)
- 67 million turkeys eaten at Thanksgiving and Christmas
- $9.3 billion in jewelery sales during November and December of 2007
- $474.5 billion in retail sales during holiday season 2007, almost $100 billion more than 10 years ago, adjusted for inflation
Sure, after a certain point, numbers become meaningless. We stop seeing the difference between “huge” and “really huge.” (Really, how much do you care if it’s $30 billion or $300 billion or $500 billion? It’s not like you’ll ever truly “experience” either kind of money anyway.) So here are a few handy yardsticks for contemplating the bigness of those numbers:
- You’ll go to the bathroom roughly 165,300 (read “sort of big”) times in your life.
- You’ll breathe around 400 million (read “huge”) breaths in your lifetime.
- The U.S. national debt (read “really huge”) is $10.6 quadrillion (or billiard, if you’re European) — that’s $10.6 billion with three more zeroes — and growing by $3.37 billion per day.
Got the “a-ha” moment yet? We thought so.
Now go, we’ll leave you to your “sensible financial planning” New Year’s resolutions and trying to figure out what to do with all the idiotic holiday presents Capitalism, disguised as Santa, grandma or that Pollyanna-driven colleague, slipped down your chimney this year.
And remember, ain’t no shame in regifting.
Published January 1, 2009