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Posts Tagged ‘column’

Long holiday season diminishes purpose

In Entertainment, Holiday, Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on November 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm

DIH LOGOMaybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I really don’t understand the concept of having the Christmas holiday season start before the last kid has knocked on the door and yelled, “Trick or treat.” Yet, every year, its arrival seems to advance a few more days.

From artificial Christmas trees to holiday-themed tableware, it all hits the shelves even as parents are still helping the kids carve a Jack-O-Lantern. Then, as if signaled by the dousing of porch lights after Beggars’ Night, municipal workers swiftly hang garland and lamp post banners cheerfully lettered with the bland and ever faith-neutral greeting, “Happy Holidays,” so as to avoid offending anyone.

To cash in on early shoppers this year, Walmart announced it would open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, no doubt in response to the flood of competitors who started opening early last season.  Over the last couple of years, many department stores were criticized for allegedly forcing employees to work on national holidays, supposedly threatening them with dismissal if they failed to show up.

It’s hard to criticize the merchant companies, however, because if people weren’t lining up around the block to get in, they wouldn’t bother opening early. Clearly, shoppers want to get in on the best deals as early as possible and store management simply met their demands. Of course, it’d be easy enough to argue that people wouldn’t do that if merchants weren’t enticing them with exceptional savings. So who is really to blame? I’d say it looks like the fault lies equally with both parties.

Even so, last year some employees went on strike, for lack of a better description, and refused to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many lost their jobs when they didn’t show up for the new holiday shifts, despite intervention by civil liberties supporters.

No one wants to have to work on a holiday unnecessarily. But, and not to be too blunt about it, if you’re going to work a retail job, there are certain responsibilities that come with that – like it or not. An ever-changing, irregular work schedule is probably one of the most common aspects of a retail sales job and if that’s a deal-breaker, you may need to find some other line of work.

So why are more and more retailers backing up the shopping season? Mostly retailers are trying to cash in on a higher volume of sales and make some kind of effort to steer consumers away from online competitors.

Over the last five or six years, holiday purchases have become increasingly Internet based. Many web-savvy shoppers find it far more rewarding and easier to just point and click, even taking advantage of free shipping, gift wrap and last-minute delivery offered by online retailers like Amazon and eBay.

Perhaps you’ve also noticed that TV networks and radio stations are in on the backward rush to ring in the merry season. Networks like Hallmark Channel and Lifetime began showing Christmas-themed movies and television show episodes during the first week of November. Locally, one of the best multi-genre radio stations for in the Dayton, Ohio market, Mix 107.7, has already started playing 24-hour Christmas music.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with celebrating, or even getting into the spirit of the season a bit early, but doesn’t all this commercialism and dragging out the festivities diminish the purpose of having a holiday? After all it is a – “Holy Day” – holiday; not a holi-month, or holi-quarter. Even Hanukkah has been lumped in with Thanksgiving this year; the whole thing is just becoming a blur of shopping and pointless present-buying.

Maybe it’s time we slow down a bit and think about the point of all of this. This season shouldn’t be about endless shopping or nonstop Christmas media. Whatever your plans may be, remember to reflect on the meaning of the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Religious or not, be thankful for whatever prosperity you have and share it with those less fortunate however possible. That’s what Christmas is all about.

 

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com

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We see the 1950s with rose-colored glasses

In Entertainment, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on August 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm

DIH LOGOI recently read a CBS News poll asking people to choose a decade back to which they’d like to time travel. Overwhelmingly, the leading answer was the 1950s. What I can’t wrap my head around is, why?

Some people see those times as simpler, easier to manage, with fewer concerns and more security. Gas was 23-cents per gallon and you could get a really nice home for $22,000. A good price when you consider the average annual salary – hold onto your hats – just over $4,100.

So, yes, things were cheaper but only when compared to today’s prices. Actually, I think we have a fairly tainted view of the 1950s, America’s so-called, “Golden Age.” The “Leave it to Beaver” family unit and less-complicated lifestyles of those days simply wouldn’t work in modern society, for a number of reasons.

First, we had all the same problems back then that we have today, but we perceived and dealt with them differently. The country probably wasn’t as politically fractured as it is today, only because we were all riding a bit of a patriotic “high” after the end of World War II.

Technology or the lack thereof made a difference to our perceptions in those days too. There was the radio, a morning newspaper, an evening newspaper, sometimes an “extra” mid-day edition, and an evening television newscast. We didn’t get all the bad news of the world every moment it was happening. If we were going to tell people how our vacation was going, we had to mail out post cards.

According to the 1955 United States Census, America’s population was 166 million and the average unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, or about 81 million people. Today it’s about 314 million with a 7.4 percent unemployment factor, around 23 million.

So, barring some kind of economic cataclysm, as the population doubled, the unemployment rate followed suit. From a ratio standpoint, there were actually more people out of work 60 years ago than there are now. That’s good news, right? Sort of, yes.

What makes this a steeper hill to climb today is, once again, technology related. Labor-intensive, blue collar jobs like those at GM, NCR and other big manufacturers just don’t exist anymore. Many have been eliminated or sent overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor costs.

Additionally, many people – myself included – believe Americans to be lazier than ever and a good number of us simply don’t want to work. People are especially hard to motivate when employee benefits and pensions are a thing of the past and there is no longer any sort of job security.

Speaking of security, remember the “duck and cover” drills of the 50s and 60s? How much of a pointless endeavor was that? “Here, little Johnny, get under this desk so the Russian atomic bomb won’t hurt you.” Really, I mean, how dumb were we?

I suppose at least it gave us all something to do in the face of the unthinkable. In reality, there was nothing secure about the 50s, especially considering we were always on the brink of war with Russia and it only got worse as 1960 approached.

Personally, I think we spend far too much time looking back and not nearly enough looking forward. The past is done and you can plan for the future to some degree, but, reasonably, all we have is the here and now. Focus on making your present more fruitful and your future will follow along.