Sunday, November 27, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it stop snowing now

It finally snowed. Ski resorts are rejoicing.

It's been snowing since last night. I had to shovel off a good foot of snow from my car. On the way home from the bookstore it was coming down so fast I had another 3-4 inches on my rear window. It snowed all through the night and has resumed snowing again mid-morning. We are going to my cousin's mission farewell this afternoon and I'm hoping the storm will let up.

So, Friday was "Buy Nothing Day". This time last year I was with Tom and MJ in New York City of all places for the annual Black Friday. We saw the protesters at Times Square-which was awesome. We'd had this dialogue about not buying anything-which was alright with me since I didn't really have a whole lot of money and had been thinking of quitting my job at the time. But we'd determined buying nothing on the biggest shopping day of the year only hurts the little guy who depends on that day for business. I thought to just not buy anything from big retailers. Actually Tom and I ended up buying a cup of herbal tea from Starbucks-but we were cold...okay and we spent money on a movie, but we couldn't get tickets to Wicked, even though we tried very hard and stood in line for a very long time.

Well I thought about Buy Nothing Day this year, even telling my family members (much to their chagrin) that it was bad to give in to our consumer culture like that. They already know how I feel about Walmart. My mom bears her testimony of that store every time I bring it up. But then there was nothing to do in the house but eat and watch children's movies and my parents had gone to pick up the motorhome (they bought a new motorhome for when my dad retires) and I had to get out of the house. Well the only thing to do seemed to be to go to the nearby shops. I was just going to look around, maybe visit Wild Oats, or read some magazines at the bookstore. But then...I saw Old Navy, and I saw how cheap it is...and I CAVED! I got some really cute new shirts and they were super cheap and super cute-especially the pink one, and on SALE. But I did refrain from buying an adorable sweater I wanted, so I did use SOME self-control. Okay, don't judge, Old Navy is not world domination-though I'm not exactly sure if their clothes come from sweatshops or child labor factories. But then there's the argument we're giving these people jobs so...Sometimes I wish I didn't try to justify things, and that I knew the right thing to do to help the most amount of people, and that it was in line with what I want, too-like an adorable long sleeve pink t-shirt.

14 comments:

Panini said...

I'm a caver myself...only I joy in it. I couldn't convince anyone to go shopping with me Saturday so I didn't get out until late afternoon...oh to be one of the 4am lines. :)

SJ said...

But that's just the thing. We're a consumer culture. It seems to be our most wide-spread and holy religion. I think I MUST HAVE that pink t-shirt. But do I really? Nope. I see the sales sign and I'm hypnotized. If anything we could use more self-control, self-assurance that we don't need as much as we think we do-a rebellion,if you will, against the values of the "right now" generation.

Esperanza said...

LOL. We have an on-going disagreement at my house on Walmart too. Mom hates it! Hates the large shelves and the masses of humanity that seep through the isles, and their world domination. I love Walmart, how could I resist this Thanksgiving holiday getting a box of Ritz crakers for a cheeseball for $2.00 instead of the $3.59 that Safeway was offering for the same box, both 16 oz. Ah, well, its a debate anyway, the world domination part! I didn't get to go clothes shopping this weekend, anyone up for round two? Ding, ding, ding. JK.

Sherpa said...

I've been thinking about this for the past year. I believe in fair trade etc....but wal-mart etc is so cheap. So I continue to think about it.

SJ said...

And therein lies the problem. We are poor, and at the prices they offer, Walmart looks so enticing...

Panini said...

yep...that we're poor is the WalMart problem. The shopping problem really stems not from thinking I need it but from literally feeling happier when I do. getting happiness externally is sometimes my only hope for a sad time ... and such a lift for a happy time.

Sherpa said...

"Random Alert"

This is where the "brick" reference on my blog came from:

My Blog:
On LDS Linkup, there’s a lady from Britain who is not all there to put it nicely. She often “hijacks” boards with her beyond random comments. However, the other day, her comment on the boards was, “"people should be free do what they wanna but if anybody even look at me i throw a brick." Thank you Mary.

Steve said...

Well, I don't think we can blame you for buying such a cute shirt at Old Navy, which does use sweatshops, I mean how else do you think they keep their clothes so cheap?!?! But who doesn't these days and I'm not up to knitting my own, so what's a boy to do?

The problem with Wal-Mart is that they feed on the poor and make others poor, thus adding to their customer base. For instance, the poor people can't afford stuff at the mom and pop stores because they don't have economy of scale like Wal-mart so they have to charge more to be able to eat at night when they only sell one or two items all day. So with all the people in the usually small town shopping else where, mom and pop have to close their store and usually other chains like K-Mart, Ames, etc, have to close too b/c Wal-Mart has "everything" so no one goes there anymore. So now mom and pop are poorer, the unemployed workers from mom and pop's store and the other retailers are poorer, the custome base is still poor, and Wal-mart treats their employees like crap to keep them poor. So while the family in Arkansas gets richer and richer, along withe Wal-mart's stock holders, everyone basically between Washington DC and San Francisco is treading down this capitalistic spiral. I don't blame Wal-mart per say, they are just making the most out of an imperfect system. Here in Germany, Wal-Mart isn't any cheaper than any other stores, although there are a couple reasons for that which I won't continue to bore you all with, haha.

Talk to you later SJ!!!!

SJ said...

Thanks for the support, Steve. Came across a website on sweatshops and culture jamming (adbusting) with a list of American companies that do use sweatshops and what to do about them.

Wal-mart, K-Mart, J.C. Penney;
Tommy Hilfiger, the Gap, Banana Republic. Old Navy, Fruit of the Loom;
Ann Taylor, Esprit, The Limited, Guess, Victoria's Secret;
Nike, Reebok, Adidas;
Aztek, Apple, IBM;
Zenith, Panasonic, General Electric;
General Motors;
Disney.

However, I would like to know what their description of a sweatshop is. Is it a factory where workers are paid less than American workers? To me that's fine, so long as they're paid a decent wage for their living standards. Is it a factory with long hours, little if any breaks, and unfair employment practices or life-threatening work conditions? Does it exploit employees/children? Are employees scared at work, are they paid a decent wage? Are they little more than a step above slave labor? That's the sort of thing I would worry about supporting, not simply buying something made out of country from a factory.

mj said...

um yeah i used to fight the power by choosing to go to k-mart because at least no one likes it so it's the underdog. now i do not live by either of them so i think i mostly don't buy things. oh wait--so i hate the way american apparel advertises but i support their business practices and i was able to convince somebody to sell me their t-shirts wholesale, so that's cool. maybe i should hook you up. i noticed you added some blogs to your list. how totally pointless is B's? ha ha ha.

Esperanza said...

when I was little we used to sing, "K-Mart, fall apart, guarenteed to make you fart." I know, how juvenille. They haven't made up a song about Walmart yet have they? ;)

SJ said...

We used to sing "I pledge allegiance to the flag Michael Jackson is a fag". I didn't really understand what that meant at the time, but felt a little disrespectful pledging allegiance to the flag in that matter.

I haven't heard of a derogatory song. But you could easily substitute Walmart for K-Mart in that little diddy.

B's blog is just a bit like B. Not so odd-I can see him saying all that as he drives me somewhere.

The other blogs are Steve's (long overdue for attention here), and my friend Andrew's from DC. He worked just down the hall at the Nation during my short stint at that government affairs firm. I always did like nice East Coast Jewish boys.

halden said...

SJ, are you ok? Did you pass out from overexertion trying to figure out which retailers are safe to patronize? I hope you're fine, and the weird lack of posts on your blog is due solely to some holiday called "don't post on your blog week" or something like that. The only weird thing about the sweatshop list is that it doesn't list every company we've ever heard of. One time I was looking for worker-approved clothing, and the US union page said they didn't approve of anyone. I don't know if american apparel has union workers or not, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they're good to their people. Same for timbuk2 and their messenger bags. I am glad the no sweatshop list has computer/electronics companies on there too. It was very sad trying to explain on a messageboard one time how computers or computer components can be assembled in sweatshops too. The smart smart kids were like "look, I don't think computer engineers work in sweatshops."

SJ said...

Dear Halden, nice to see you are still your usual sarcastic self. Not surprised by the US Union site. Whether or not overseas factories are indeed sweatshops, they're still big competition for jobs in the states. One of my co-workers told me about this book he's reading on Fair Tax that is supposed to encourage companies to stay in the US and create more jobs for blue collar workers here. I informed him that was actually a point on John Kerry's platform. He was recognizably disturbed. I'm in a bit of a conservative newsroom. It's annoying.