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Valentine's humbug

Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images

Another commercially augmented event. Valentine’s day. Originally a saint’s day, then a sort-of day of play, somewhat akin to May Day, with youthful attestations of affection, then a mandated set of behaviours. Remember grade-school everyone-gets-one card exchanges? Now Valentine’s day is surrounded by offerings of cards, candies, restaurant deals . . . And if you should forget it, they would have you believe, then you are imperiling your most significant interpersonal relationship.
O.K. another opportunity for the Grumpy Libertarian to be grumpy? Not really. I love giving gifts at Christmas, or the big holiday of the winter, however you name it. I enjoy Halloween, purely for the fun of costume and little ones playing in the dark. It’s something I’ve actually celebrated in armor, on horseback, taking kids door to door as a band. Fun.
But we are forgetting the fun. Christmas, and Halloween, and the fourth of July, and just having an opportunity to be happy people, and to let our children feel a sense of community. Much as I advocate capitalism, the unforced meetings in the marketplace that are the core of our culture and the wellspring of technological advancement, I decry this idiotic commercialization.
Making candy and cards available for Valentine’s is just fine. Offering ready-made costumes at Halloween is a convenience for work-immersed parents. And of course there is a boost to the economy from annual gift giving in mid-winter, however you label the event. All that said, the ads and the hints and the sheer hype are enough to gag a goat. How about if more enterprises offered the best they could, at the lowest prices they could, all the time? I buy my clothing at the sales events of the end-of-year. I buy any candies for gifting after Valentine’s when, “event” over with, they are clear-inventory items. I stock up on Christmas wrap and ribbons and such as they are being cleared out in early January. Grumpy? No, just not rich. What is off-putting to me, is that waiting for sales is just waiting for the real bottom-line profit margin prices to emerge. It makes the prices the rest of the time show for the inflated cons they are. And for the exploitation of the consumer base they represent.
I am tired of political speech that is a screen for actual motivation. And I long ago became tired of commercial pushing that exploits what little shared culture we have. It is long past time that the employer-employee relationship regained some trust, that enterprises tried for long-term reputation rather than surges brought on by artificially stimulated “dates,” and for a return to simple enjoyment of our being people. Grump.