That time of year

It’s that time of year again when all the stores try to get us to buy stuff. I hate that the Christmas commercials started well before Halloween, and the Christmas merchandise was in the stores before the Halloween candy was even sold. Now I see where some stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day instead of at least waiting for Black Friday.

I understand that stores need to make money, and I understand that working retail means sometimes having to work on a Holiday. But I, for one, am sick of it. Our culture says buy this, buy that, and somehow makes it seem that we aren’t complete without the biggest, fastest, newest, whatever. 

Corporations are making lots of money; look at how much the top people are paid. So they aren’t hurting for money. The stockholders often determine the fate of a company, so they are the ones the corporations listen to, not the customers, and certainly not its employees. I can still remember a time when companies paid their employees well, and customers were treated like the business depended on them (and it did!)

What companies don’t seem to understand is that if its employees are paid well, they can afford to buy the companies products. If wages fall, and they have been falling for some time now, who can afford to buy the company’s products? Companies are blaming unions for their failures, and while some unions may be greedy and corrupt, it’s because of unions that we have 8-hour workdays, lunch breaks, safety in the workplace, and a whole myriad of things that make workplaces better.

I think what gripes me the most is that companies aren’t placing the blame for their failures where it belongs, on their greed. I know that some companies do pay their workers a living wage and they still manage to make a profit. But when profit comes before the welfare of a company’s workers, our system is broken.

I won’t be shopping any chain stores on Thanksgiving Day, nor on Black Friday. I will support local businesses, because they are the lifeblood of our communities. When you shop at locally-owned businesses, 74% of what you spend stays in the community. When you shop at non-locally-owned businesses, 43% of what you spend stays in the community. For me, the math is simple; shop local and the community benefits.

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Just venting

I haven’t written in a while as I’ve been focusing on my Gratitude Journal. But things have been happening, and I needed a place to vent. So here goes.

One of my pet peeves is people forwarding emails, or posting something to Facebook that is blatantly false, yet they swear it’s true. Case in point; in two places now I’ve seen a graphic purporting to show the retirement income our elected representatives receive. The numbers are false, as I looked them up. I wish the people who posted stuff like that would check their facts; that’s easy to do with the web. If you’re emailing or posting stuff, then you have access to the web, so check it out!

Unfortunately, the responses I get when I post a link to something that refutes the original post, are typical: well, the person who sent it to me is a good person and wouldn’t have posted it if it weren’t true. Or something along the lines of, your link is some lamestream media with a liberal bias, so of course they’re going to say it isn’t true. Aaargh! I know I’m setting myself up for frustration when I try to correct these things, but I do it anyway. So I guess that makes me the same as the people who pass on untruths in the first place, right?

There are sites to check facts and those pesky urban legends. Here are two that I think are good:

http://www.factcheck.org/

And for the urban legends that keep resurfacing:

http://www.snopes.com/

I hope these sites will help. There are others out there; too many to list here. Searching the internet is risky as anyone can put up a page. So here are some things to look for:

Does the page list who owns it? Pages without contact information are suspect. Pages should list who they are and how to contact them. You can learn a lot by seeing who put up the page.

Is the page legitimate? This is harder to determine. But if the page describes a tropical beach in Wisconsin, for example, it probably is bogus.

Is the page someone’s opinion or is there research to back up the opinions? This should be easy. Read what the page has to say; look for a byline, which should be there if it’s a blog. All the major news sites have people who write blog posts, and they are usually opinions, unless the person gives you links to research to back up what they say.

Does the site give you something to really think on? Or is it merely mirroring what you think? We cannot stretch and grow if we only read what confirms our opinions. It doesn’t hurt to read a dissenting voice and really think about what that voice is saying.

Just a few thoughts. Happy surfing!!