No, I’m not forgiving them for paying their employees minimum wage when they could easily pay them $11 an hour and give them all health insurance and still make a hefty profit. Not only would that be the right thing to do, it would also help the economy (money trickles up, after all — if people have money, they spend it. Amazing, but true). Instead, Wal-Mart admits their employees are basically living in poverty, and some stores are even holding food donation drives for the employees.
However, instead of criticizing them for that (which is well deserved), today I want to defend them against the “closing on Thanksgiving” thing. There is a boycott proposed against them (and other stores) for making their employees work on Thursday.
Lots of places are still open on Thanksgiving, because we the people want them to be open. Someone always remembers a last minute thing they need and they run down to the grocery store and are happy when it’s there. (Remember: Wal-Mart has groceries, too.) Many gas stations remain open (which you will be thankful for when you get halfway to grandma’s and realize the tank is empty). And of course, some people never get holidays off (hospital workers, police, emergency services).
But really, we’re the ones to blame. If we didn’t create the demand, they wouldn’t be filling it.
So the protests I see now asking people not to shop on Thanksgiving are good — because it puts the onus on us. We’re the ones ultimately responsible for stores opening on holidays and at 12 am on Black Friday and so on.
Of course, one of the reasons for the protests is that Wal-Mart treats their employees terrible. If they paid them well and gave them overtime for working holidays, you probably wouldn’t be seeing these protests. So while we can blame ourselves for wanting these places open, we also need to keep in mind that the companies themselves can soften the blow to the point where employees will want to work on the holidays for all the extra benefits and money.