“When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won’t just be going to the mall, they’ll be witnessing retail theater. Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion. The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want. The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in.”
—Is this Wall Street Journal report on Black Friday proof that we are easily manipulated by marketers into believing we are scoring some kind of deal, or further evidence that our corporate overlords have figured out the precise psychological subterfuge to—even when we know we are still being scammed by an illusion of savings—keep us pacified with a steady flow of consumer goods at “bargain” prices to the extent that we are disinclined to muster up the energy to shake off the shackles of our horrible cradle-to-grave existence of cheap consumption and soul-deadening desire for shiny, shoddy merchandise and demand real changes that would result in smaller profits for the four massive organizations that control everything but raise the living standards and emotional well-being of everyone else, most specifically the downtrodden masses who are currently shuffling along to the tomb while the quiet voice in the back of their head that tells them things could be better is constantly and deliberately drowned out by the promise of cut-rate electronics at rock-bottom prices? Eh, who knows.