The Day Before “Black Friday” is More Than Just “Thursday”

This year’s television commercials have exemplified the advancing encroachment of the retail world against days which deserve special respect. Ads showcasing Black Friday’s special sales have thrown in the side note that their stores will also be open at various times on “Thursday.” Why do they avoid using the name the day they are ruining for so many workers? (For the record, it’s called “Thanksgiving.”)

But the fourth Thursday of November set aside for giving thanks and enjoying family and close friends is only the most recent casualty of the passion for $ at the expense of quality of life.

Sunday, a 2,000-year-old day of religious observation and rest, has long since been relegated to an ordinary workday of straight-time pay where the bottom line is the new deity. The march toward a completely worldly calendar has also run over days set aside for special commemoration. Business establishments which used to observe the solemnity of Memorial Day, President’s Day (formerly Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’ Birthday, ten days apart), Veterans Day and the Fourth of July now run loudly publicized sales which require mandatory staffing, usually at straight-pay, to care for the multitudes who rarely remember the reason for these holidays. Martin Luther King’s Birthday is too recent to receive the respect it would have generations ago. Baby Boomers and those older recall how New Year’s Day was a holiday for all except emergency personnel.

The post-Christian United States has pushed Easter to a business-as-usual day often punctuated by Opening Day celebrations by my beloved, but misguided, major league baseball. (Sometimes this indignity is avoided by placing these hyped events on Good Friday – great way to make it worse.) Of course, our Jewish friends already know how hard it is to observe the high religious days in the Americas.

We can begin to start the path to sanity by remembering that the second holiday in November is called Thanksgiving, it’s not just the Thursday before Black Friday. It was created for a serious purpose. Thanksgiving should be enjoyed in a way that the events of the following day do not infringe on its celebration. This would rule out any store openings before the usual daily start of business on Friday so that typically marginally paid employees don’t have to squeeze their special day to get to bed early for 6AM, 3AM or midnight openings.

Hats off to those companies who resisted the temptation to be open on Thanksgiving! It may seem naïve to think this, but perhaps their example will encourage the buying public to reconsider its priorities and to patronize those businesses who respect holidays.

Advertisements

Fear Motivates “Black Thursday/Friday” Spending As It Did With Obama’s Re-Election

Big box retail and the President have once again capitalized on the individual’s most dreaded emotion: the fear of not getting what you believe you can’t do without.  In the case of Obama, the fear was generated from the Biden false assertion that Romney/Ryan would re-enslave Americans of all races in a financial sense.  Big box retail succeeds every November by encouraging customer fear that their Commercialized Christmas will be a flop unless they grab Thanksgiving night bargains.

The success of each campaign ensures a tightening of the economic vise.  Instead of “looking up” to the higher things in life as I exhorted pre-election, many consumer/voters continue to narrow their tunnel vision.  They become increasingly worried that if they don’t look out for themselves, even if at the expense of their fellow citizens, they will suffer.  Damaging compromises ensue.

As a result, we have signed up for another four years of the accelerating intrinsic evils we believe are a necessary trade-off to survive.  We have abandoned the moral foundation which lifted us from colonial oppression and have replaced it with moral degradation leading to federal oppression.

We have succumbed to the fear that unless we accept a platform which promotes the murder of the unborn, we will have our retirement necessities taken away by the opposition’s platform.

The President duped us into thinking that we must go along with the legitimizing of disordered behavior contrary to natural law and to the destruction of the family , or we will not curry the favor of Robin Obamahood, the “only” one who can save us in the fight against unfair business practices.

Finally, we ignored the growing specter of foreign ownership of our monumental national debt in order to receive a national health insurance whose “benefits” reduce human beings to mere uncontrollably reproductive animals.  Of course, to accomplish Big Brother’s domination we must be willing to abandon our inalienable right of religious freedom.

So, how does this relate to Black Thursday/Friday buying habits?  By supporting the increasingly earlier store hours which curtail workers’ rightful time with their families, we encourage the big box retailers to ignore all decency in their scheduling.  It enables the “famously aggressive labor practices” of Wal-Mart (from The Atlantic, posted yesterday) which, in turn, leads other large retailers to follow suit.

In addition, every successful Black Thursday/Friday empowers the big box retailers to continue their legal, but unfair pay structures.  The same online article quoted median hourly wages for all retail employees to be $14.42.  However, for the perpetrators of earlier and earlier store hours, the average is much less.  While Wal-Mart claims an average hourly wage of $11.75, The Atlantic article said an independent study put that figure closer to $9.00/hour.  (As a former team leader with a discount retailer, I can concur with the independent study.)

The Atlantic stated that the federal poverty line is $19,090 for a family of three.  To reach that, a person would have to make $9.18/hour with forty-hour weeks for every week of the year.  This pay rate is above that of numerous retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl’s.  Not to mention that full-time employment is harder and harder to come by as well.

As a nation, we blew an opportunity on November 6 to make a stand for what is right at the polls. Every Christmas season we are presented another chance to “look up.”  By following the crowds every year, we are supporting an industry including the likes of Target, which “managed to put a more fashionable face on the same abysmal pay for its workers.”  However, to make matters worse, with each made-in-somewhere-other-than-the-U.S. label, we are also sending more manufacturing jobs overseas to workers who are mistreated in other ways.

The choice is ours.  Will our gifts travel to their recipients on the backs of downtrodden workers, or will we brings our gifts in the same way the Three Wise Men did, from the heart and with a clear conscience?

What If?….. We Celebrated Thanksgiving For The Reason It Was Created

A few years ago, one could predict this inevitability.  The creeping vine known as “Black Friday” was going to move out of its boundaries and begin to strangle one of the few remaining uncontaminated holidays — Thanksgiving.

When I was still in retail, I remember feeling the nudge of insatiable commercialism as I spent the fourth Thursday of November 2004 glancing at my watch periodically instead of concentrating on the food and fellowship of that day.  And that was for just a 5:45AM start the next workday!  Soon, a competitor decided to open at 4:00 which encouraged others to begin at 3:00, then the feared jump to midnight and earlier.

Now employers think it’s perfectly reasonable and certainly justifiable to treat Thanksgiving Day just like other disregarded days of rest and reflection like Memorial Day and Labor Day…. or, God forbid, the antiquated notion that Sundays had a purpose other than paying employees straight-time for missing church.  I know, “we live in a very competitive economy” (yes, ongoing since at least the 1960’s).  “If we don’t do it, everybody else will and we’ll lose our annual corporate largesse (bonus),”  or something like that.  There are myriads of other rationalizations.

I suppose the spending addicts bear some of the blame for the increasingly invasive store hours.  After all, if nobody came, they wouldn’t open it.  A Field of Pipe-Dreams, perhaps?  Still, even though I’m in my 50s, I just can’t shake myself from some idealistic thoughts.  If even a country as secular in its policies as Norway is can have few stores open on Sundays, is there a chance we could break the enslaving bonds of Christmas-getting (aka Holiday-greedings) and return to a little more normalcy?

George Washington set aside this day for giving thanks to God whom we have since pushed out of our public awareness.  We need to adjust our values and start remembering that “we didn’t build it” (you almost got it right, Mr. President), but God built it!