As a society, we continually allow our collective focus to stray from what is right, to what is best for only a portion of us. There has been a continual push to erode the holiday family-time in the name of “good deals”, Black Friday now starts on Wednesday and is closely followed by Cyber Monday. The easy target is to blame corporate retail owners; even Scrooge did not make Bob Cratchit work on Christmas. I cannot say the same for Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Khol’s; a review of their mission statements shows a singular focus on developing a relationship with the consumer but no mention of their employees; Costco and Nordstroms employees figure as prominently as their customers in their mission statements. More importantly, they take action to backs up their words.
This orgy of consumerism is artificially created to whip up hysteria to beat everyone else to the store to get as much as you can for the lowest price. To be fair, from a strictly economic point of view, if there were no demand then it would not be profitable for merchants to incur the overhead costs to be open. The real culprit in all this is us; we have conditioned ourselves to seek out these bargains and demanded merchants deliver us goods at the lowest price. Can you blame them if they work that bloodlust to their advantage?
While I believe in a capitalistic society and normally abhor most forms of government intervention into regulating our lives; this in one instance when laws need to be reenacted to protect our society’s most vulnerable citizens. Many of these workers do not have the luxury of opting out of work, they are told when to work and if they choose not to, then they are free to seek employment elsewhere (sarcasm implied). Statically, over 26% of low-wage, retail workers are women over 20 years old either at or below the poverty level and their income constitute the majority of the family’s resources.
Blue Laws refer to the prohibition of the sale of certain goods and services from puritan time to the present. Some New Jersey counties still observe Blue Law regulations and statewide in a lesser form, such as forbidding car dealership from selling on Sundays.
I think a form of Blue Law needs to be legislated forcing all but essential retail outlets be closed on select, non-secular, major holidays such as Thanksgiving. This maintains the separation of church and state and is applicable to all citizens. Merchants cannot argue that this puts them at a disadvantage as their brick and mortar competitors would also be closed and internet sales could be handled automatically or by a small staff of workers.
Sadly, as a society, we do not do a good job of disciplining ourselves; the current example of texting while driving clearly demonstrates that we will do something we agree is dangerous but continue to do anyway. I for one will demonstrate my love for my family by listening to them and showing and interest in their lives instead of standing in a line to buy them something that only hold their interest for a limited time; I encourage you to do the same.