The one thousand Black Friday protests at Wal-Mart locations around the country have had an unintended benefit; the onset of a national conversation about the insanity of putting shopping before family.
As I flipped around the news channels on TV last night it became obvious that the efforts of OUR Walmart and likeminded groups have struck a chord in the American psyche. While I doubt that what will likely be mostly small protests at less that a quarter of the mega-retailers’ locations will actually effect business, it occurs to me that the long term ramifications are likely to add up to something much greater than increasing public awareness about the ugly realities of the retail workplace.
Wal-Mart and Sears will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Target’s doors will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. At Toys R Us (also 8pm), the first 200 people in line will receive a a $30 stocking-stuffer goody bag. Staples is promising a discount of up to $200 on certain HP computers with Windows 8 if they arrive on Friday before noon.
Target’s PR people are saying that the early opening is in response to consumer demand. And employees are lining up for the opportunity to work on Turkey day. Of course, this picture of a notice on a Target bulletin board makes that claim questionable. And the over 350,000 people who have signed on to a petition in protest of the early openings started by a Target employee might beg to disagree, but….
So now people are being presented with a dilemma: either have your Thanksgiving dinners like usual or you miss out on the deals. You can’t do both.
But wait! What about having dinner while waiting in line? Ah, yes, that’s really what the Thanksgiving experience should be all about, right? I guess if you believe that saving a few bucks (doubtful, actually) and dealing with mobs enhances the buying experience, then eating your dinner out of Styrofoam containers might just be the ticket for you.
Not everybody’s buying into this meme, check out this report from NBC/News7:
When it comes to Black Friday, are the big retail stores messing with success?
“I think in the long run it could be a mistake,” said San Diego State Marketing professor Michael Belch. “In the long run the concept for Black Friday could go away because it has been extended.”
Dana Marchant has gone shopping many times with her family early Friday morning. But she says moving Black Friday sales to Thanksgiving day is not a good idea. “I think you are infringing on the holiday,” said Marchant, “you are missing the point of what Thanksgiving is all about.”
The early holiday sales have come with controversy. Store employees for some major retailers have started petitions to stop the early shopping and there are threats of walk-outs. Shoppers have also complained that moving up the sales takes away from the Black Friday tradition.
Perhaps we’re getting a two-fer here with these protests. That might be the best Black Friday bargain of all: increased awareness of the value of family time AND a better public understanding of the real costs involved with outfits like Wal-Mart.
The artificially low prices prevalent in mass retailing are possible because of artificially low wages. We save fifty bucks on a major appliance today and fork it over at the end of the year to pay for the increased demand for food stamps (etcetera) caused by those artificially low wages.
Of course, there will be people that line up on Friday, and the news media will dutifully report on the stampedes. And there will be the Ebenezer Scrooges/naysayers out there that will proclaim that ditching your family to save a buck really is the American way.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day. So maybe, just maybe, this is the start of something good.
UT-D Watchdog Nips at the Heels of the Port Commission
You have to give UT-San Diego CEO John Lynch credit. He is a man of his word, even when he denies saying it. In an email exchange between the Dougchester minion and Port Commissioner Scott Peters reported on earlier this year by KPBS, it certainly sounded like Lynch was threatening to use the newspaper’s resources against the Port Commission:
The CEO of U-T San Diego Thursday denied sending a threatening email to a port commissioner running for Congress, suggesting the email had been doctored and “somebody could go to jail” for sending it.
The email — from Lynch to Port Commissioner Scott Peters on Aug. 9 — asked Peters how he intended to vote on a 24.5-year lease with Dole Food Company at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal downtown. It also purports to threaten Peters with a “campaign to disband the PORT [sic]” over provisions he wanted to see in the lease.
The U-T has made the terminal site its mission for development of an entertainment complex, including a football stadium. The extension of the Dole lease was seen as a blow to the U-T’s vision.
So it should come as no shock that today’s front page investigation by UT-SD’s
‘Watchdog’ concerns the supposedly sordid saga of the inner-workings of the Port Commission. They dig up a professor from San Diego State to suggest that there may be a misapplication of funds along with tax-fighting warhorse Richard Rider tsk-tsking for added measure.
And just to make sure that the public ‘gets’ the tar brush being wielded here, the story ends with:
In July (the same month the agency’s Fourth of July event was aborted by a premature fireworks explosion), they received additional raises. McCormack now earns $175,000 and Christian $161,000.
The irony here is that (in my opinion) there should be room for a discussion about whether the Port Commission is the best way to serve the public’s interest in dealing with the commercial, aesthetic and commercial aspects of our waterfront. I don’t know what the answer is. Seems to me like there’s a lot of money floating around there and it would be worth taking a look at.
I do know that any story coming out of Mission Valley about the Port has to be looked at as a Manchester induced witch hunt.
Retiring County Supe Has a Few Choice Words for the Republican Party
An event last Sunday hosted by Run Women Run, a group that supports pro-choice women to run for office, fêted gains by their candidates both locally and nationally. San Diego saw 17 pro-choice female candidates win races, two women were victorious in State Assembly contests and over a hundred seats in both Houses in Washington DC are now held by women, so there was much to celebrate.
But when it came to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, retiring member Pam Slater-Price was less than enthusiastic, noting that, according to an article in the Encinitas Patch:
…in the 162-year history of the county, only four women have served on the Board of Supervisors. She also said she was belittled by Steve Danon, who lost to Dave Roberts for her seat.
The story led with…
Retiring county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price had a parting shot for her Republican Party on Sunday: “What are you doing in my bedroom and telling me how to run my life?”
Slater-Price, who will step down from the board after 20 years, appeared at a gathering of more than 100 people to celebrate the victory of 17 pro-choice female candidates from San Diego County.
Slater-Price said she thought the Republican Party was one that supported small businesses but was less enthusiastic about its outlook on women’s issues.
If you can’t win people with ideas, maybe you can buy their loyalty. At least that’s the thinking up in Los Angeles, where GOP advertising man Fred Davis is looking to pump enough cash in to tip the scales in next March’s mayoral contest.
The long shot candidate looking to benefit from this largess is Kevin James, a former prosecutor who is both gay and Republican. Hey, it almost worked in San Diego… According to an article in the LA Times, backers are hoping that an upset win could ignite a “rebirth” of the GOP in California.
Democrats currently hold two thirds of the seats in the Legislature, and statewide Republican voter registration has fallen below 30%. In Los Angeles, just 16.5% of voters identify themselves as Republican.
The GOP SuperPAC calling itself Better Way LA formed on behalf of James is hoping to raise $4 million to back his campaign. A second organization, Fix It LA, has been created as a nonprofit 501(c)4 advocacy group for donors who want to help James get elected without having their identities revealed.
SuperPac creator Fred Davis gained notoriety last year for creating and pitching a campaign to Chicago investors that would have exploited the President Obama ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Tweet of the Day:
Everyone knows @nathanfletcher was only hired by Qualcomm as a ringer for their surfing and Ironman triathlon teams. You missed out, Intel!
— Paul Mitchell (@paulmitche11) November 19, 2012
Twinkies on Fire
If you haven’t heard already, employees of the Hostess Company were dealt a break yesterday by a Federal bankruptcy judge who ruled that the maker of Twinkies and Ding-Dongs needed to at least make a stab at arbitration before unceremoniously dumping their workers right before Christmas.
In other Twinkie related developments, the NY Times has a column up about the usefulness of Twinkies in the classroom environment that goes beyond inducing a sugar coma in the student body. Some choice tidbits:
Do Twinkies burn? No. They toast like a marshmallow, but they do not burn, unless you first dry out the eerily moist golden sponge cake, by soaking it in alcohol. Then a Twinkie will indeed catch fire. What becomes of the “creamy” filling is not fit to describe in a newspaper that people read over breakfast.
Do Twinkies dissolve? Sort of. In water, they swell up grotesquely, turn pale, ooze and then fall apart if you touch them.
How do you measure the density of a Twinkie? It involves a blender and a beaker, and yields the startling (to some people, anyway) discovery that a Twinkie is 68 percent air.
How does gravity affect them (say, if they are dropped from a great height out a classroom window)? They hold up a lot better than you might expect.
What happens if you microwave them? Don’t.
Two years ago, an overweight nutrition professor at Kansas State University went on a diet that was low in calories but consisted mostly of Twinkies and other junk food. In two months, he lost 27 pounds, lowered his bad cholesterol and raised his good cholesterol. His point was that for weight loss, calories mattered more than the actual content of the diet. Twinkie lovers rejoiced, but the nutrition world put its collective head in its hands.
Grossmont Hospital Picketed By Staff
Members of the United Health Care Employees (UHCE) picketed outside Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa yesterday.
The staffers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital are facing increases in their health care costs of up to 11%. The workers, employed by Sharp’s subcontractor Sodexo, have been in negotiations for a new contract since early summer but have failed to reach an agreement.
They say that the company’s current wage offer won’t even cover the rising cost of living in San Diego. The workers are members of United Health Care Employees (UHCE), an affiliate of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE).
The informational picket line lasted from mid afternoon into evening.
On This Day: In 1789 New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights. In 1945 24 Nazi leaders went before an international war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. In 1962 the Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was released.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Coronado (1st St. & B Ave., Ferry Landing) 2:30 – 6 pm, Escondido (Grand Ave. btw Juniper & Kalmia St.) 2:30 – 6:00 pm , Mira Mesa (Mira Mesa High School 10510 Reagan Rd.) 3–7 pm, Morena District (1240 West Morena Blvd.) 3 – 7 pm, Otay Ranch – Chula Vista (2015 Birch Rd. and Eastlake Blvd.) 4 –8 pm, Pacific Beach (Bayard & Garnet) 2 – 6:30pm, UCSD/La Jolla (UCSD Campus, Town Square at Gilman/Meyers) 10 am – 2 pm (Sept. 25 through mid-June; closed for winter, spring and summer breaks)
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