OPINION – It’s not really all about money, is it?
On this Thanksgiving day, shouldn’t we think about things a bit loftier?
OK, maybe we’re not all in the financial place we would hope to be. Perhaps our personal bottom line has dipped even more as we continue to struggle for an economic recovery, but this isn’t the day to worry about that stuff, unless, of course, you are one of the corporate giants trying to scrape even more dressing out of an empty turkey carcass.
This should be a day when we step outside of ourselves, when we look around and find that despite any challenges that may still stand in our path, there is always something to be grateful for, even if it means we re-chart our course or, perhaps, realize that faith, hope, and courage are genuine tools to help us get through the rough spots.
While most of us will have that opportunity, whether we sit around a huge table filled with friends and family or participate in a more intimate dinner, some will not.
You see, they will barely have time to put down their knives and forks from their Thanksgiving meal when they will have to get ready to go to work.
Some of the nation’s largest retailers are fouling Turkey Day by trying to get a jump on the Black Friday madness.
Wal-mart, Kmart, Target, Sears, Toys R Us, and other mercantile giants will open their doors today, with some offers that, truly, few will be able to capitalize on.
Loss leaders, they’re called.
Retailers are notorious for taking a couple of items, putting a very limited number of them on sale at ridiculously low prices to lure a crowd, and taking a slight loss on the price break because of the foot traffic they generate. Sounds great for the consumer who doesn’t realize that, well, unless you have been camped out since Monday, you probably have a snowball’s chance in Guatemala of there actually being one or two of those items remaining on the shelf by the time you get through the door.
What’s really happening here is that the big retailers are looking for any advantage they can manufacture to head off online sales and further cripple the Mom and Pop merchants who simply cannot afford the kind of sales staff it would take to open the doors on Thanksgiving.
Now, it would be hypocritical to say I never shop the big box stores or go online for purchases. There are times when, because of the smaller-town environment in which we live, certain items we want and need are not available in the local shops and, well, we are forced to go to one of these places to purchase what we need.
Still, I don’t like it. I don’t like walking into a store where the owners are making huge profits off the back of foreign slave labor and local employees who are mostly working part-time jobs without benefits and for unreasonable pay. The average Wal-Mart employee, by the way, earns $8.81 an hour, according to a story published by The Nation; and although they will earn double-time today, we all know Uncle Sam will get a disproportionate share of that extra dough.
I don’t like walking into a store where almost everything on the shelf is considered a disposable product — from televisions to microwaves. Few of these products are made to last.
I hate walking into a store, picking up a piece of clothing, and wondering how many kids worked in the sweatshop that produced it, whether in China or Indonesia.
But, there is also the hypocrisy of the owners and CEOs of these companies who only weeks ago were deeply involved in the election and were preaching the importance of family but now are taking a day that their employees should be sharing with their families away from them.
I remember when companies would once flip for a free turkey for their employees to express their gratitude on Thanksgiving.
It seems like there are a growing number of companies that are flipping a different kind of bird.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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