Maryann Tobin

It wasn’t so long ago that stores closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day, so employees could spend time with their families. No more.

The quest for corporate profits has turned holiday family time into just another day at work for millions of Americans.

Three decades ago, in the 1980s, candidates in the Republican Party ran on a theme of family values. It was a time when more attention was being paid to women in the workplace, single parenting and a rising divorce rate.

In addition to being a clever campaign slogan, many politicians saw the deteriorating structure of the traditional American family as a symptom—if not the cause—of new problems affecting everything from economics to the overall quality of life.

They were right. Solid family units are a greater asset to society than broken ones.

Traditional thought said hard work should be rewarded with prosperity, and holidays should be time spent at home with family and friends. But something went awry between then and now.

In 2012, the mantra of the GOP is more anti-family than ever before. Multinational corporations are now called “small” businesses and “job creators.” Profits, lower tax rates, government handouts and deregulation come before all else in the new radical conservative Tea Party era.

In the past two years, Republican governors like Scott Walker (R-Wisc.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) have worked hard to roll back workers’ rights, benefits and pay in defense of profits for these “job creators.”

The fundamental shift away from family values to corporate profits has empowered more retailers to make conscious decisions to keep families apart, with longer hours for the same or less pay, and demands that they work on days like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

This year, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, will be open for business on Thanksgiving Day. That means their employees will be at work, instead of at home with their families.

And there are others. K-Mart, Sears, the Gap and Old Navy have also announced that employees and their families will take a back seat to the holiday quest for profits.

Capitalism has made the US economy the largest in the world. However, there is an attitude of overreach being encouraged by politicians that is leading it beyond morality into the realm of obsession. In the 1950s, during America’s most prosperous time, the American family was a stronger unit and businesses never saw the need to open their doors on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day.

“In fact, in many ways, the 1950s was a truly golden decade. While it wasn't, of course, perfect, the 1950s seems like a million miles away from today's Third World-like America. … American workers made the highest wages in the world. We also enjoyed the best workers' benefits and the longest vacations. Most high-tech products were made in America,” according to Beggarscanbechoosers.

US poverty rates are rising, but so are corporate profits. Tax rates for corporations are at 1950s rates in 2012, but workers’ wages buy less now than they did a generation ago.

It is not difficult to draw a direct line between today’s income inequality and rising corporate profits, created almost entirely by government intervention in tax rate manipulation favoring the rich and business deregulation.

Conservatism in America is leading the way toward an ever-increasing attitude that says businesses should be free to do whatever they want, even if it means turning American families into working machines that must bow to the will of CEOs who place profits above all else.

What do you suppose would happen if every non-emergency worker in America decided to stay home with their families on Thanksgiving Day instead of going to work?

Perhaps it would send a message that although a handful of people control most of the money in America, people still have the power to say “no” to certain abuses.

Some traditions should be honored, not eliminated so that CEOs can get richer. Workers should be home for the holidays, because that’s better for American families than selling them out for holiday profits.


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