The cure for retailers ruining Thanksgiving: A federal blue law

Last year, shoppers waited in line at a Target store in Riverside on Thanksgiving evening; this year, Target and others are opening even earlier on the holiday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Forget about that so-called war on Christmas. The real war is on Thanksgiving, and it looks as though the turkeys won’t be the only losers.

Joining fellow retail giants Wal-Mart, Staples and who knows who else (it’s too depressing to count), Target and Toys R Us now say they’ll open early on Turkey Day, hoping to cash in on Americans’ seemingly insatiable desire for a good deal.

Black Friday, meet Grim Thursday. Can holiday door-busters on Halloween be far behind?

Last week, Times guest blogger Matthew Fleischer, in a piece headlined “To the greedy retailers ruining workers’ Thanksgiving: It’s gonna cost you,” postulated that this trend might actually be good for American workers. Why?


“No, not because of the joy their ruined holidays will bring to bargain-happy shoppers — but because the slow creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving is probably the single most effective public relations gift the labor movement could ask for in the fight for a living wage across America.”

Now, I wish Fleischer — and America’s working stiffs everywhere — good luck with that. (Won’t help my industry, of course; newspapers, like police and fire departments, are 24/7/365 places.)

But perhaps he’s right and the ruined holidays of millions of workers will become the little acorn that grows into the big oak of wage equity.

Or not.

But the wishbone I have to pick with this whole working-on-a-holiday deal isn’t about money; it’s about — well, not to get too misty-eyed and all — it’s about the kind of world we live in versus the kind of world we’d like to live in.

Lots of us remember the days when stores weren’t open on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Heck, plenty of us remember when no one was open on Sunday. And somehow, America survived — both consumers and capitalists.

Now, some have written that they don’t enjoy the holidays much, that family time is overrated. To them, I say: Get a grip. Get a better family. Get a hobby. Get out and take a walk. Read a book. Unplug. Undress. I don’t care.


But for everyone else, go ahead and call me Don Quixote, but I’d like to tilt at this all-shopping-all-the-time world we live in now. How about we just say no?

What’s that you say? It’ll never stick? It’s against human nature? Well, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., “I have a a dream — and a plan”: Make it the law of the land. That’s right. We need a federal blue law, making it against the law to open on Sundays and certain holidays.

Radical? Yes. But it’s also a bipartisan no-brainer. Which lawmakers are going to stand up in Congress and defend people’s right to violate the Sabbath and Christmas and Thanksgiving just so they can buy another iPad or get their Starbucks fix? You think the tea party types wouldn’t go for a blue law? You think the Democrats and their union allies wouldn’t?

I’m telling you, the votes are there. All we need is a champion or two.

So how about it, Ted Cruz and Nancy Pelosi: Are you with me?


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