|Cartoon by Dan Piraro|
Last night, as I drove home alone from Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's house, the Christmas season funk officially blossomed in me. It didn't help that my iPhone's shuffle function seemed determined to just play sad songs for most of the drive, either.
Around 10 pm, I drove past a Walmart and K-Mart that shared a parking lot and they were busier than I've ever seen them before. There were even people tailgating in the parking lot. This, especially because of the Walmart, made my mood sour even more as it clearly showed what a selfish nation we are.
People have all KNOWN that for months there have been rumblings about Walmart employees striking on Black Friday to send a message about how they deserve better wages and that it was being asked that people boycott Walmart in solidarity with the striking workers. Apparently solidarity means nothing when you can get a vacuum for a third of its usual price.
I understand that if you live in the middle of no where, sometimes all there is for any shopping is Walmart. Because your town either used to be a cornfield, forest, or desert and someone decided to put houses on it and didn't think about businesses. Or Walmart was put in your little town to bring in new revenue and ended up causing a lot of the pre-existing small businesses in your town to go under.
But the Walmart I drove past was 10 miles outside of the Chicago city limits. It is far from the only option available.
Making Change At Walmart is a great site full of facts about what changes need to be made at Walmart and how it will be at little cost to anyone to make these changes- its just that the rich want to continue to get richer rather than pay their employees enough to support their families.
The statistics about Walmart employees receiving government assistance due to being below the poverty line are the kicker, though.
This is from one of the facts sheets on MakingChangeAtWalmart.org:
After a disgusting election season that had people bitching about how they didn't want to be forced by the government to pay money to support the "lazy" poor people- you would think that those same people would be the ones that realize that if Walmart just paid their employees $12 an hour rather than $8.81 an hour, that it would significantly decrease the amount of households on government assistance. Yet, I didn't hear much coming from those people on the subject."Many Walmart workers are forced to utilize state subsidized benefits. Three major studies—one in Georgia, one in California, and one in Massachusetts—found that Walmart was the employer that had workers most reliant on government assistance. It is estimated that Walmart employees cost taxpayers more than $1 billion nationwide."
And it's not like it would hurt anyone if Walmart paid their employees a little bit better. The customers will, on average, only have to pay an extra $12 and change a year because of the wage increase. The average employee will make $3,000-$6,500 extra a year. The guys at the top of the Walmart food chain will barely see a decrease in their pocket change- they'll still be making far more than anyone else at Walmart and have more money than they know what to do with. Also, it's a proven fact that employees that are paid better perform their jobs better. Maybe if Walmart paid their employees better, it wouldn't be so horrible to have to go into a Walmart.
And now Black Friday is half way over (some sales are ending as I type). So, there's not much of a point in me sputtering about boycotting any further.
I would like to point out that Black Friday is the perfect day to start thinking about spreading cheer to those that have little to be currently cheerful about. If you saved gobs of money today on Black Friday sales, don't forget to maybe put a little of the leftover money you have towards a charity.
Here's a few favorites:
- Toys For Tots bins should be out already at many stores. If you're at Toys 'R' Us in the next month, remember to grab two of whatever toy you were buying and put one in the bin. Or donate via paypal directly on the TfT site! Remember that they are always short on gifts for pre-teen and teenage girls! Also, if you know a child-in-need you can also find information on the site on how to get a toy for them.
- Feed America has dozens of different options for how to help feed starving families in America. You can start a food drive (in person or even a virtual food drive!), donate in someone's honor, donate money for specific food items to be purchased for families, donate whole meals, do monthly donations, payroll donations, stock donations, or just give $12 so that a kid has breakfast for a few weeks when otherwise they wouldn't. Note: Just remember to un-select the option to receive communications, because you will get soul-crushing physical mail for a lot of organizations looking for donations otherwise.
- The Red Cross is always a good option for when you don't have money to spare but want to give back in some way. Volunteer for them or donate blood and platelets rather than money. Platelets only have a 5 day shelf life and are ALWAYS in demand! The site will point you towards where you can go in your area to donate and make sure to check the eligibility FAQ for donating blood before you go.
- Goodwill is ideal for both saving money AND for donating. Board games area always cheaper at Goodwill (just check that they have all their pieces) and remember to head there first if you're looking for Christmas decorations or seasonal clothing that you're not likely to wear more than once or twice (i.e. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party items). And as you're getting gifts this year, start taking note of items in your house that you're not using anymore but you know that others might appreciate and donate them to Goodwill.