Festivus for the rest of us

Black Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Black Saturday and Cyber Monday are over, although stores are continuing sales right through “Festivus for the Rest of Us,” Christmas, New Year’s and Independence Day.  

Shop ‘til you drop is what I have said. Forget the turkey and family fellowship; head to Walmart and get in line to start getting deals on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. Your family will understand; they even lent you their tent; after all, they spent time in the line with you. And, they brought turkey and stuffing sandwiches. Aunt Ida is the best.

Although the lines did not shorten at the major big-box stores until Friday, and those shopping Walmarts in Chesterfield did not have to wade through protesters carrying signs asking for $25,000 (about $12 an hour) a year for full-time work – part-timers make more like $8 an hour. We have a great picture of Santa at a protest on our website:

villagenewsonline.com/node/13791 or bit.ly/1c7cqcd.

There is a little bit of wage in everything we buy. Want it cheap (made in China) or do you want it from a “Free Trade” shop where you are assured that the product you are buying is not made in sweat shops or by eight-year-old kids – although those kids have tiny little fingers that can weave a great Persian rug.

I have always figured that I would one day be a Walmart greeter because after the arthritis sets in, typing will be a hassle. But after I see the outrageousness of the Walton family (not the “good night John Boy Waltons) fortune whose net worth has put them consistently in the top ten of the Forbes 400 since 2001, I wonder why they cannot pay a little more to their employees.

Collectively, the Waltons own over 50 percent of the company, and are worth a combined total of $150 billion (as of August 2013), valuing them as the wealthiest family in the world,” according to Bloomberg Magazine.

 Even the highest paid hourly worker at Walmart is still earning just $1,500 over the poverty line for a family of four.

Someone once said to me when I mentioned the low-paying jobs at McDonald’s, that those workers should try to better themselves and move on to better paying jobs. I thought where is that? Some workers do not have the wherewithal to move up to brain surgeon, stock broker or business owner.

Maybe they could get a good job at Chesterfield’s shining star, the Amazon Distribution Center, in Enon. Amazon pays at least $10 an hour.

Many people making these low wages end up on food stamps, now called the SNAP program, (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) which went into effect when the increase ordained by the 2009 economic stimulus package expired. The end of the stimulus package on Nov. 1 resulted in reductions, which total $5 billion and have already touched more than 47 million people.

The losers in the reductions in the SNAP program affect not only the recipients, but the merchants who  who accept the SNAP funds by way of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). Walmart was against this program until they realized that the new way customers using SNAP after the Nov. 1 reduction hurt the competition more than Walmart itself, according to the Oregon Farmer’s Market Association.

The amount of each household receiving SNAP depends on household size, income, and expenses.

A household of four will get $36 less, after a 5.4 percent decrease in the stimulus program’s demise.

The amount of each household’s change depends on household size, income, and expenses at a poverty rate of $25,550, although the average SNAP recipient family, according to the ”Department of Agriculture,” has a gross monthly income of $731 and a net monthly income of $336.

Even those who balance on the poverty line and receive SNAP equals about $1.66 per meal for family member in a four person household – although the two kids might get free breakfast and lunch at school, except during the summer. SNAP guidelines allow the purchase of only certain food items, according to Chesterfield’s SNAP webpage.

There are other programs as well, but what is interesting is SNAP recipients typically stay on the program for about 90 days. No welfare queens if government program statistics are correct.

It is so difficult to survive when you are laid off or fired due to company employee reductions. Many workers that were making well over the poverty line take jobs, well buried under the poverty line. Not long ago, I ran into an old friend and I said what are you doing working here at Home Depot. He told me he had gotten laid off and had to make ends meet.

Those who have gone through a divorce sometimes have to work two or three jobs to make child support. Fathers get hammered by the judge who rules on monthly child support payments – males typically pay more than females do.

Consider that many people who get down on their luck or end up in a challenging financial situation, end up moving to pay by the week housing, which more times than not charge as much as $250 a week.

Charity organizations are swamped this year, with folks in need of holiday food or toys for their kids. No “Merry Christmas” for them and certainly no “Festivus for the Rest of Us” an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas, according to the New York Times. Happy Holidays.


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