Should Blue Laws Return?

Should we return to the days when stores were forced to shut down on Sundays so the employees had a chance to attend church and spend time with their families or go to other meeting of a more social nature?  One major investment management firm thinks so.  What about holidays?  With Thanksgiving coming up and an increasing number of retail outlets opening for the day, we must keep in mind that each of those stores is preventing its employees from attending their family feast.

Is this the employees’ wishes?  Quite possibly, yes.  We’ve been lowering the effective minimum wage over the years after adjusting for inflation.  We’ve been eliminating the middle class in the meantime, making it more difficult for a family to support itself on only one income and continuing to push the idea of ‘keeping up with the Jones’.  Are we doing the right thing?

Do all of the employees working on Thanksgiving Day want to be there?  Or, would they rather be home watching Dallas and Detroit play their rivals on the television?  Or cooking in the kitchen, talking and having fun with family they haven’t seen in months?  The answer to these questions is also ‘yes’.  Each person has his/her own preferences.  Each one must answer these questions for him/herself.

Before you condemn the company for keeping its doors open, think about what you actually do on Thanksgiving.  Do you go to your computer and look up the ‘Black Friday’ sales and plan your attack for the next day?  Do you see that an item is on sale online and order it right then and there without needing to fight the crowds?  Is this helping the near-minimum wage employee working at the retail stores?

Perhaps a solution is for the retailer to ask for volunteers to work on each holiday, and fill in with non-volunteers only as needed and only for short shifts.  If they don’t have enough volunteers to cover most of the shifts, then maybe they should stay closed.  Would this work better for all involved?  Are there other solutions that might work?

Note:  for information on Goldman Sachs newly enacted version of blue laws (for Saturdays) see: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/11/goldman-sachs-monitors-junior-analysts.html

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