Sunday, November 27, 2011

Occupy WalMart (or The Holiday Spirit)

It’s all starting to be too much for me to process. While some Americans are being sprayed in the face with pepper spray by the cops for sitting peacefully to register their rage at the greed and corruption of corporate America symbolized by Wall Street; other Americans are being sprayed with pepper spray by fellow shoppers for battling their way through mobs of crazed consumers just to buy a waffle iron on sale, contributing to the corruption of corporate America symbolized by WalMart. The irony of this juxtaposition is a bit overwhelming. When I step back and attempt to look at my country through the eyes of a Haitian, Iraqi, Colombian, or Nigerian, I can only imagine how decadent, disturbed, and dysfunctional American culture must seem. Well, heck, it is.

WalMart is the antithesis of the Occupy Movement and I’m proud to say that I have not stepped inside one in probably 15 years or more. May I remind you that WalMart contributes large chunks of its profits to campaigns for Republican candidates and agendas that perpetuate corporate rule. May I also remind you that WalMart’s labor practices are abysmal, and include policies that allow them to maintain (within the law) legions of employees nationwide with no benefits whatsoever. Few WalMart “sales associates” can support a family on what they earn. ($7 an hour and no health plan? What is up with that?)

If we wish to constructively direct our anger about the injustice and unfairness of our economic system then the thing to do this Christmas is to not buy anything that puts money in the pockets of the corporate giants, including not buying anything on a credit card that we can’t pay off as soon as the bill comes due. My gift to myself this holiday season is that I have now closed out my Chase and BofA credit cards and converted them to credit cards through our little local credit union. Of course, none of us can be completely pure and untainted. After all, I just filled my car up with gas; and not much contributes more to corporate bloat than buying gas. Sigh.

I’m totally burned out on all of it. This Christmas, I’m giving my children homemade gifts exclusively. They’re getting applesauce made from apples off the tree in the back yard, cuttings from my aloe plant, CDs of their dad’s radio show, a photograph of the house at McNab Ranch (that they grew up in), a foot massage, a promise of a free copy of my novel when it comes out in the spring, and sock puppets.

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