Home > business & economics, remember > Another Federal Holiday, Another Chance to Air My Pet Peeve

Another Federal Holiday, Another Chance to Air My Pet Peeve

Monday, January 17, 2011, 08:15 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Today we observe the federal holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the only individual besides President George Washington to be so honored. What better way to celebrate the cause of justice for which Dr. King fought than…shopping.

Government offices at all levels, the Postal Service, U.S. stock markets, and banks are closed today. Other private businesses can close at their discretion (my employer doesn’t). But one kind of business that doesn’t close for the holiday is retail. In fact, retail establishments from discount department stores to auto dealerships use this and every other holiday as an excuse for a sale.

Never mind that a sale does nothing to honor King. Never mind that King lived at a time when people treated holidays as opportunities to be with family and reflect on whatever the holiday commemorated. A disgraceful number of people now see today as merely a reason for one more long weekend and saving money on a new plasma TV. They have little or no understanding or interest that we are honoring a man who was literally martyred in defense of the American revolutionary ideal that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” A sale on the day set aside to honor his birth and life is only slightly less offensive than a sale on Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor our war dead. That the public doesn’t rise up in indignation is offensive as well.

Who is to blame for such ignorance and apathy? Retailers certainly deserve their share of the guilt, using what should be solemn observances to make a buck. But customers are also to blame, perhaps even more than the stores because the customers have the power to end the practice of opportunistic holiday sales by refusing to patronize the businesses that have them. The fact that they don’t is a sign that the customers are as greedy as the retailers.

I won’t be shopping tomorrow. I refuse to be a party to the cheapening of an important and meaningful observance. I refuse to reward with my spending dollars those for whom a holiday is merely a chance to sell more stuff. Any store that can’t close for a lousy ten federal holidays a year doesn’t deserve my patronage.

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