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In a few weeks we'll be celebrating Labor Day, the day when we are supposed to celebrate labor, organized and unorganized. It's also the holiday that signifies the end of the summer season.
But the vast majority of Americans will not be able to celebrate because we no longer have national holidays, instead we now have three-day shopping fests. While the upper classes have the day off from work and often a complete three-day weekend, the middle and lower classes will be, as usual, hard at work. And at no time other than national holidays is it more apparent who is working for whom.
Back in the day our national holidays fell on the days they had been observed for generations. There was Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Washington's Birthday and Columbus Day and each had their own day which came every year on their appointed day.
But in 1968 the Federal government passed the "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" to make it easier for businesses that closed to do so for a set time. That's fine. But over the years fewer and fewer businesses were closed and so more and more people lost those days as holidays to the point now where the malls and shops and stores and restaurants are open and their employees are working.
How can you possibly celebrate a holiday if you're doing on that day the same thing you're doing every other day? How is that a holiday? Maybe we should simply scrap the notion of celebrating the Father of Our Country and just call it February Sale Day? And how about, "Buy a New Car To Honor Dead Soldiers Day!" because that's what our National Holidays have become.
While Federal, state and bank workers are able to enjoy the weekend, everyone else has to work therefore it's silly for us to call these days 'holidays' as, for most of us, these are regular work days.
It's not likely that Wal*Mart or Costco or Food Lion would close their doors on a national holiday. They'd be out millions in revenue and their customers would have to watch NASCAR all day and go through shopping withdrawal and I'm pretty sure our health care industry couldn't handle the sudden surge of zombie shoppers flooding emergency rooms. But what if they had no customers? What if people had the day off and stayed at home or went to the beach or visited family or friends? You know, like what you would do on a holiday?
Our nation has become so attuned to shopping that people who live in exurbia actually demand a mall in their backyard because the drive to the next town over is too taxing for their psyche. In that extra ten minutes on the road they just might miss out on those pair of pink pumps they've been window-shopping for months.
We can't go a minute without thinking about buying something, without comparing what we have now with what's new at the mall. You can't turn on the TV or the radio or the internet without being assaulted by the noise of commercialism. You can't drive down the road without being bombarded with visuals of corporate logos that have become as common as trees. More common, sometimes.
If there is anything that has torn this nation apart more than Rick Santorum and Nikita Khrushchev it's commercialism.... it never freaking sleeps.
Let's take our holidays back
If you own a business give your employees off on holiday weekends so that they can actually do some celebrating. Your customers will understand especially if you note this a few weeks in advance. If you run a shop in the mall I understand that your contract states you must be open on days where the anchor store is open. But if 30 of you do the right thing and close it will be interesting to watch the management company's head explode.
(You can rest assured the management company has the day off!)
Museums and fast food joints and convenience stores and gas stations and florists and salons and... you get the idea. Close for the day. Let your employees celebrate.
If you're a regular old white collar dude or dudette and you have the day off - DON'T GO SHOPPING! Take a hike. Have a BBQ with your family and friends who will be able to be there because... they won't be working for da man! Get your cigarettes and milk and Chip's Ahoy! a couple days before just like we used to do back in the day when we actually had "National" holidays.
Let's make our national holidays, National Holidays again.
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