Paul Jacob

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s simple and unpretentious — a good meal and time spent with loved ones, remembering to count our blessings.

This Thanksgiving, however, a social media maelstrom struck over stores opening for business on what George Washington declared in 1789 to be “a DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAYER.” Anti-shoppers attacked shoppers for being “part of the problem.”

What problem?

For years, many stores have opened their doors on Thanksgiving, without any tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum. No one has yet come forward to claim that he or she was forced at gun-point to drive to the mall or a big box store to “shop or else.”

But this year many stores did indeed open earlier than before. Walmart and Target and Best Buy, oh my!

Predictably, much of the controversy was ginned up by the inveterate Walmart haters, who incessantly complain that the world’s largest private employer pays wages and provides benefits so low that . . . well, arguably only these same complainers offer workers less. (Why Walmart employees opt to work at the giant retailer, instead of taking all those more lucrative job offers, is anyone’s guess.)

A writer for “Daily Kos Labor” argues that, “workers shouldn’t have to rely on having an especially good boss to get to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”

The implication? No one should have to work on Thanksgiving. Yet, closing down hospitals for a day doesn’t makes sense. And folks needing to travel to be with “their families” might also need a gas station to be open. Hunter-gatherers could no doubt all take the same day off, but that’s certainly not optimum in a modern society.

Matt Walsh blogged of a great transformation, earth-shattering, as he would have it: “a holiday created by our ancestors as an occasion to give thanks for what they had, now morphs into a frenzied consumerist ritual where we descend upon shopping malls to accumulate more things we don’t need.”

We?

Did you “descend upon” a shopping mall on Thursday or Friday?

And if you did — it is your inalienable right, after all — did you purchase stuff you “don’t need”? Or, perhaps, just items some know-it-all you never met presumes you don’t need?

Our birthright of liberty clearly includes the right to paint with a broad brush and pontificate condescendingly about what other folks ought to do and not do. But it also includes working and shopping and buying and selling.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.