There is a Lyle Lovett song that has a verse which is on my mind this morning. It goes like this:
“I understand too, too lateIt’s funny, but I find myself in the “you have to try” state of mind. What has me spun up this morning? It is the whole “Black Friday” super-sale phenomenon.
There are things that you do and say that you can never take back
But what would you be if you didn’t even try, you have to try
So, after a lot of thought, if it is not too late, can you make that a cheeseburger?
Everybody likes a sale, why pay more for something when you don’t have to? But that logic has been taken to an extreme that is now harming ourselves but the millions of workers in the retail sector.
This year it is not enough that stores are open in at a ridiculous hour on the Friday after the holiday, now we have major retailers like Sears, Target and Walmart all opening in the evening on Thanksgiving Day itself.
Sure the employees will get holiday pay, which is a good thing, but can any amount of money replace time with friends and family? There has to be more to life than just slaving away at a job that, for many who work them, doesn’t even provide a wage that allows them to feed their families or have any hope at saving for the future.
They don’t really have a lot of choice after all they do need those jobs, but there is another part of the equation that can be altered, and even if it won’t make a difference this year, maybe we can start to make a difference for the future and, at the very least, turn back the tide on this insane policy that is eroding a holiday that most everyone has been able to take for at least the last 70 years.
To that point I posted on my Facebook Page the following:
I will not shop on Thanksgiving or before 10am the next day. Though I would enjoy the possible savings I feel that quality of life for all workers if more important that a few big screen TVs on strong mark down. I will always choose stores that do not participate in blatantly anti-worker behavior over any discount. I am looking at you Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.I also asked all my FB friends to take the same pledge and repost it. It is a small thing, I know, but again, what would you be if you didn’t even try? The retailers have folks who monitor social media pretty closely and if we could start to show a cost for them enacting policies that harm not only their workers but all workers then it is possible that they might reconsider.
After all what is it exactly that you might get if you went to one of these sales? The general idea from the retail perspective is to offer some higher ticket items (usually electronics) at a big markdown. But the thing is they only have a certain number of them and when they are gone you can’t get as good a deal, but since you are already in the store, you are likely to buy other things.
Does that feel manipulative to anyone else? Is there any reason to let big companies program us to act in ways that are all in their interests and not in our own? Maybe it is just me getting old and cranky but I feel that it is important to resist being programmed by any group to behave in a certain way, especially when I know they don’t care at all about my interests, just the bottom line.
I recognize that there are some folks who have really pinched budgets. As someone who spent the last two years below the poverty level, it is no joke and there are times when you might do things that you would not do otherwise. I am not talking to those folks, if the only way that you are going to be able to afford a reasonably nice gift for your child for the holidays is to take advantage of one of these sales, then go for it and here is a wish that your situation improves in the new year.
However I know the demographics of the readers here at Daily Kos and for the most part we are professionals with good steady jobs who have actual disposable income. To you folks I am asking for a little solidarity with the workers. Think of it this way; is it worth waiting and, perhaps, paying $100 or even $200 more for something you were going to buy anyway, if it means that we help stand up for low wage workers?
Personally that is a deal that I am willing to take and do whenever I can. The history of Labor in this nation shows a clear pattern, when the workers stand together things improve for everyone. For too long we have bought into the premise that we are all on our own and we should not think about the larger costs to us as a group for things like cheap apparel and electronics.
The cost of this has been a major decline in Union membership and as a result larger and larger income inequality. Never forget that the wealthy are not shy about turning that money into political power. It is only by taking stands when and where we can that we can assert the vast power that the 98% really own.
So, there it is Kossacks. I know I am trying to sweep back the tide. It will not have an effect this season but maybe, just maybe we can get people started thinking about it, and if we could get just 5% of those who’ve been just following along because it seems like a good deal to say “Enough is Enough! I want my holiday back.!” We can change the trajectory of something that is hard on all workers and extremely unfair to low-wage workers in particular.
So, please join me in taking this pledge and getting it out on all the social media.
The floor is yours.