Meme’s the Word (1 of 2)

Two internet memes seem to be making the interweb rounds as of late, both somewhat related to the holidays. One shows a photo of weary soldiers with the caption “WalMart employees: tell me again how working on Thanksgiving is ruining your holiday?” The second includes various admonitions to buy from local stores during this holiday season instead of from large chain corporations (I’ll tackle the second in a later post).

The first refers to a threatened walk-out by WalMart employees on Black Friday who supposedly have been stirred up by unions to demand better pay and working conditions. The photo caption reminds us of the reality that some people will just plain have to work on Sundays, holidays, and other days or times that we wish everyone could be home with their families praying a Rosary together. Soldiers, police officers, firefighters, emergency room doctors/nurses/EMTs, are the obvious ones, but there are others less obvious.

If the power goes out in your house just before you begin cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you will hope that some utility employees are working. If you hop into the car for an all-day drive to Grandma’s for Christmas, you will hope that some gas station employees are working. If your child’s temperature starts spiking and you worry about febrile seizures, you will hope that some drugstore employees are working. If you own a farm, well, the cows don’t know it’s Thanksgiving; they still need to be fed.

The argument is made that people shouldn’t have to work on holidays or Sundays, and I’m certainly sympathetic to that. I try whenever possible to not shop on those days, even if doing so would make life a little easier, and I try to convince friends and family to do the same. But the line is somewhat arbitrary. We want some utility employees to work so that dinner can get cooked, but what if it’s just to make sure we can still watch the game? We want some gas station employees to work so that we can get to Grandma’s, but what if it’s just to go buy cigarettes?

The objective is for people to value time with God and their families on Sundays and holidays, but the proposal often is to force (by law or moral suasion) businesses to close on those days; it’s not clear to me how this proposal effectively achieves the objective. The neglected solution is for consumers to voluntarily refrain from shopping on those days. Sure, passing a law banning stores from opening on Black Friday will allow employees to stay home, but so will consumers deciding to forgo shopping.

If WalMart wants to go the Chick-fil-A route and be closed on Sundays or holidays, that’s fine with me. If they so choose, they can be closed every third Wednesday of months containing the letter U. But before we yell at WalMart to change its business model, perhaps we should examine our own buying behavior. Supply and demand are both important.


Categories:Featured Politics

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  • Patrick

    Soldiers don’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day. They choose to. They weren’t drafted. they knew what theyw ere signing up for – a noble profession – but our army is voluntary. Like Walmart employees, and corporate lawyers.

  • Rob

    Tim: your argument is a total non sequitur. Wal-Mart employees are not protesting the fact of working on Black Friday. They are protesting lack of health care benefits and virtual poverty-level wages.

    Further, the utility companies pay double and triple wages for working on holidays. Wal-Mart reportedly adds a dollar to hourly wages. At an average wage of $8.81/hour, this accounts for about a 12.5% “raise” on holidays…nowhere near what the utilities pay. There is no comparison.

    Third, how is it possible on a Catholic website about workers and striking without a single mention of Catholic social teaching? Your implicit argument is very clear:

    “The first refers to a threatened walk-out
    by WalMart employees on Black Friday who supposedly have been stirred
    up by unions to demand better pay and working conditions. The photo
    caption reminds us of the reality that some people will just plain have
    to work on Sundays, holidays, and other days or times that we wish
    everyone could be home with their families praying a Rosary together.”

    You clearly state that Wal-Mart employees are not accepting that sometimes you just have to work when you don’t want to. But doesn’t the Catholic faith GUARANTEE the reasonable right to strike? And–gasp!–those Polish shipworkers went on strike in the 70s and 80s because of, can you believe it, low wages, and improving access to health care! They should have sucked it up–sometimes you just have to work for low wages when you don’t want to. I guess John Paul II was seriously misguided.

    • Randall

      Did someone force these poor, oppressed workers to get a job at Wal-Mart? Are they illiterate, and therefore could not read the terms of employment on their contract? I don’t go into Denny’s, look at the menu and order a country-fried steak, and then protest and complain that I wasn’t served filet mignon!

      • Mara

        Randall, this is scary. I actually agree with you on this one.

      • Let Peeps Vote

        No worries Randie. It’s your tax dollars that support the food stamps program that most of wal-mart employees use in order to provide food for their families. It’s your tax dollars that fund the emergency room visits of wal-mart employees because wal-mart refuses to offer health insurance, but their employees continue to be human and get sick on occasion.

        Don’t worry. As long as you can buy a TV from wal-mart for $398 instead of $399, it’s all worth it.

  • Let Peeps Vote

    FYI: Walmart employees are striking because they have no healthcare and get paid wages that put them well below the poverty line when they work full-time. Meanwhile, the Walmart heirs rack up record profits and stuff their (already fat) bank accounts.

    • Randall

      If they want better jobs, they should GET better jobs instead of asking liberal Democrats to FORCE the companies to pay them more. No one is holding a gun to their heads and forcing them to work at Walmart. But sadly, in many states, a union basically holds a gun to your head and says, “join us or you can’t work here.”

      • Some Catholic Guy Wrote This:

        We must first of all recall a principle that has always been taught by the
        Church: the principle ot the priority of labour over capital. This
        principle directly concerns the process of production: in this process labour is
        always a primary efficient cause, while capital, the whole collection of
        means of production, remains a mere instrument or instrumental cause. . . One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is
        the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent
        bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social
        teaching as legitimate . . . . Just remuneration for the work of an adult who is responsible for a family
        means remuneration which will suffice for establishing and properly maintaining
        a family and for providing security for its future. Besides wages, various social benefits intended to ensure the life and
        health of workers and their families play a part here. The expenses involved in
        health care, especially in the case of accidents at work, demand that medical
        assistance should be easily available for workers, and that as far as possible
        it should be cheap or even free of charge . . .

        • Randall

          WRONG. Crawl back under the communist rock from whence you came.

          • Just Another Worker

            Hey Randall, that’s so recognizable – direct from Laborem Exercens, the papal encyclical written by Pope John Paul II. You are beautiful and just soooo dependable. Love ya, guy!

          • Bill J.

            Ok that made my night.

  • Just a Worker

    Uh, most of us work for a living and appreciate what unions have fought for and won for us. It’s not like we are living in the lap of luxury like CEOs, upper management, and ivory tower intellectuals like the author. Randall, do you froth at the mouth when you write your little ditties? Did you get the memo from Bobby Jindall about trying to be nicer instead of hating the majority of Americans who are not at all like you imagine and scurrilously us?

    • Randall

      The only thing unions are good for is driving up unemployment, and putting more money in the pockets of the union bosses. Which then goes to Democrat politicians. And then they cause anti-capitalist legislation to be passed. Don’t give me this fluff about what unions “fight for.” They’re too busy fighting *against* American principles.

      • Thankful Democrat

        The only thing you’re good for, my good freind Randle, is ticking more and more people off and making them more inclined to vote Democrat. Love ya, man!

  • Randall

    But of course, these liberal socialists in Big Union want to take time off whenever they want, for whatever reason, because they are “ENTITLED” to it. And of course they’ll get Big Daddy Government to help pass laws because they hate businesses. What’s just as pathetic are the libs boycotting Black Friday sales. Hint: they’re also doing it because they hate Christmas. Oh well, more sales for me!

    • BAM in RI

      Randall, thanks for your coments! I always get a laugh out of them. Keep them coming!

      • Dom in NJ

        That goes for me, too, Randy, baby! You’re the best thing to come along since Sara Palin. Santorum-Randy 2016 ! That’s the ticket!



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