While reading the Washington Post I ran across a column about a proposal by one of my home state’s (CA) legislators regarding people working on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The proposal so appealed to the Left that the proposal (not even a bill yet) was covered on the other side of the country by one of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers. It commanded me to read on to find out what this was about.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez was bemoaning the fact that more and more stores were opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas. When it comes to shopping I agree with Ms. Gonzalez. I see no need for people to jump the gun of Christmas shopping or post-Christmas sales that would command Target or Macy’s or any other store to be open on the holiday. My thought is that this can wait until after the holiday and we can all take a day off from shopping.
Ms. Gonzalez argued that by these stores opening that it was breaking faith with the holiday. She stated “What people are being called on to do now is a real slap in the face of family values.” Good for her standing up for that. So does the law she says she will propose tell these retailers or other employers they must be closed on Thanksgiving or Christmas? Of course not; that would be too logical and rational based on her premise? Ms. Gonzalez’s proposal would mandate that employers would have to pay double time to employees who work on these holidays.
That solves the family values issues? What it says is that it is fine if these people work and not spend time with their families as long as they make enough money. That leads us to one of two conclusions. The first gives Ms. Gonzalez the benefit of the doubt, that she just did not think through her proposal and did not discuss it with someone who actually thought about this to pinpoint a resolution that solves the problem she is attempting to address; i.e., that the employees are not able to spend time with their families on these reverent holidays. But this lady is no fool. She has a degree from both Stanford and Georgetown and a law degree from UCLA. So I am going to go with the second conclusion that this lady only wants to command employers to pay more to her constituents and that she believes we are stupid enough to accept her illogical argument.
It follows that this over-educated member of the clerisy never actually employed anybody and never ran a business, but wants to tell others how to run theirs. She wants to control market forces that she cannot and does not understand.
Separate from the retailers, there is demand for certain businesses to be open on holidays that may not have existed 30 years ago. For example, a lot of people do not want to watch football or eat their way through Thanksgiving waiting to consume a gigantic meal. My daughter applied for a job at a movie theater and they told her upfront that she would be working both holidays. She made a decision to not take the position, but others do.
As Jews we don’t have a lot to do on Christmas day. Quite often we go to a movie. Then we do what Jews do on Christmas that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan let out of the bag – eat Chinese food. Our Chinese restaurant is packed and it is by far the biggest day of the year for them. Should they be closed?
We stopped having a big Thanksgiving dinner at our house when our kids went away to college. We started rendezvousing with them in different cities across the U.S. We had wonderful times together in great American cities. Should the hotels be closed on Thanksgiving? How about all those people who travel to visit family for the holidays; should they all have to stay at their relatives’ houses? Think about how that would affect the murder and suicide rate in the country. We also started going to restaurants for Thanksgiving dinner. The list of restaurants that are open seems to expand every year and they are all packed (try to get a reservation). More and more people prefer to leave the meal to professionals. Many employees want to work that day because they make a killing due to the patrons who are extra generous.
The world constantly evolves and what people want in their lives has radically changed. While growing up, the thought of eating Thanksgiving dinner anywhere other than at home never crossed my mind. The thought of going back to eating at home would be strange to me now despite having excellent cooks in the house.
Employers need to be fair to their employees. Employees need to understand when they work in certain fields that they will be required to work on certain days that others don’t. As a CPA I never have Martin Luther King Day or President’s Day off. I recently read a book by Bill Buford called Heat. It was about working in high-end restaurants. Buford, a journalist, learned that the chefs and cooks understood when they chose this career they would be working Friday and Saturday nights, holidays and quite often six days a week, but they accepted that because they loved their careers.
Ms. Gonzales may not think that applies to the low-level clerks at Target, but those clerks become supervisors, then managers and then store managers. She also thinks she can make non-sequitur arguments and they will fly because stupid journalists at the Washington Post can’t analyze the situation. Unfortunately for her there are some who can see through her charade.