It's amusing to watch retailers squirm and cry about disappointing holiday sales. What part of "we don't have money" don't they understand? That's what happens when you balance an economy on consumerism and debt!

How desperate are they? Embarrassingly, "J.C. Penney Co. is offering free wake-up calls to rouse department-store shoppers at 5:30 a.m. Friday," reports the Wall Street Journal. So far, the biggest drop in holiday spending was in luxury goods, electronics, and women's-clothing.

The industry already has seen a parade of retailers entering bankruptcy proceedings, such as Circuit City Stores Inc., and liquidating, including Mervyn's LLC and Linens 'N Things Inc. The weak holiday sales mean more chains are likely to follow suit next year.

We've been trained to think it's our patriotic duty to shop: to Save the Economy, ease the pain of 9/11, et cetera. Are discounted pillows from Bed Bath & Beyond what we're really looking for?