Does Black Friday Shopping Keep Workers from Their Families?

Do big sales and shopping mania keep workers from their families the day after Thanksgiving? That's a common moral high ground, but it ignores the real needs of those on hourly wages.

The irony of policies designed to tackle poverty is that their effects are visited least on those who actually make the rules. Politicians are not likely to feel the results of anti-poverty policies, nor are those who are primarily responsible for drafting legislation. As a result, it is easy for policy makers and opinion makers to take the moral high ground on positions pertaining to the role of money in life.

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving when shops offer big sales to ignite the holiday shopping season — is a case in point. It is easy to call Black Friday a commercial interruption, always occurring between a Thanksgiving Thursday and the weekend, that keeps workers from their family. What would otherwise be an extended weekend at home with loved ones becomes an obsession with new TVs, clothes, and other wares at bargain prices.

But such opinions fail to consider the economic reality of workers who live near the poverty line. Working on holidays, which provides overtime pay, may represent an economic opportunity. The chance to make time-and-a-half should not be dismissed by individuals who are more well off. Indeed taking the moral high ground without considering the needs of poor individuals is classist, says Dr. Nicole Mason.

Mason's book is Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America.

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