Wal-Mart Death a Fitting Symbol of the Times
Desperate consumers, ailing economy make for dangerous combination
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2008 1:54 PM CST
Raymond Feliciano catches up on some sleep after waiting in line from midnight to 4am at the Wal-Mart in Niles, Ill., Friday, Nov. 28, 2008.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – When shoppers charged into a Long Island Wal-Mart at the stroke of 5am Friday and trampled to death a temp who happened to get between them and the $388 flatscreen TVs inside,“it was a tragedy, yet it did not feel like an accident,” Peter Goodman writes in the New York Times. Goodman notes that just as the Depression had its breadlines, and the '70s their gas lines, today's iconic image is the desperate mob rushing headlong for its must-have bargain.

Even as credit lines recede, “Americans have been effectively programmed to shop,” Goodman says, likening the American economy to a piñata. “It seemed fitting then, in a tragic way, that the holiday season began with violence fueled by desperation,” he observes, “with a mob making a frantic reach for things they wanted badly, knowing they might go home empty-handed.”