More than nuclear weapons or Obamacare, I think the most hotly-debated political subject this Thanksgiving has been the moral and ethical considerations of Black Friday shopping. Personally I find Black Friday shopping a bit silly and I don’t get the attraction. Then again, I don’t get the attraction of a great number of things people seem to be willing to shell out money for, namely most of the things people are buying on Black Friday.
It’s funny that I seem to know not a single person who finds Black Friday shopping worthwhile or enjoyable. A quick perusal of my Facebook newsfeed indicates that every single person I know is morally outraged by the practice. Yet I also know that literally millions of people will do it.
Hmm. Maybe I really can’t trust everything I read on the Internet.
What people do in their spare time is, I suppose, their business. And if they want to lie about it on Facebook all the better. Most disturbing to me these days, though, is the moral outrage from those who kvetch about restaurants and retailers that “make” their employees work on Thanksgiving or Black Friday or any time that might be inconvenient to anyone who’s ever worked for a living. This is how it works in their minds: there exists an evil, greedy CEO in some far-distant land barking out orders to his minions from a jacuzzi tub (or however he spends Thanksgiving), bleeding his workers dry for pennies a day while he simply sits there and watches the millions roll in. There is no other explanation for what’s occurring.
Never mind the fact that many retail employees probably appreciate the few extra bucks earned from working a few extra hours. Never mind that they took their jobs voluntarily, knowing the store’s hours of operation before they ever walked in the door. And never mind that many thousands of people in more prestigious-sounding occupations than that of retail clerk also must work on holidays. Doctors, nurses, firemen, cops–not to mention military personnel–work every weekend, overnight, and holiday. They knew the schedule going in too. The fact that they’re paid more doesn’t change the relationship between employer and employee. In our country work is a voluntary exchange between employer and employee. Each offers something of value to the other, just like buyers and sellers on Black Friday or any day of the year.
A lack of economic knowledge is one of the things I find most disheartening about American society today. Sadly, it’s probably worse in other countries, where they don’t even begin with a pretense of free-market capitalism. Tune in Monday for a more in-depth discussion of this crisis, typified today by a certain holy man in Rome some call infallible.