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Holiday Shopping Speech

By: James Jeff McLaren
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Speech at council on why Stores Should Remain Closed on Holidays

I believe expanding holiday shopping expands an unequal power relation and erodes the freedom to exercise a plurality of values in civil society.

Having been on both sides of the employer/employee divide I can tell you that the so called laws to protect worker’s rights are not very effective; especially the lower the income level. This power relation is full of suspicious, calculating, subtle and often not so subtle instruments, procedures, techniques and maneuvers of intimidation, sanction, coercion and domination; all designed to give the appearance of free negotiation and free consent where there really is none. No good comes from supporting, reinforcing, perpetuating, or turning a blind eye to any social inequality.

But, it is more insidious than just permitting an unequal power relation to persist and deepen. We are debating the erosion of the norms of civil society. While it may be necessary to change norms and behaviours from time to time it is important to know what norms and behaviours are at stake.

Five days out of 365 days are at stake. We are being asked to approve a simple small increase to people’s freedom to shop; a 1% increase in that freedom. But these are holidays. That small 1% increase means we are facilitating the 100% reduction in the time and space available to express our freedom to do and act in other socially valuable activities. We are, in effect, choosing one value system and reducing or eliminating all others.

We are deciding whether or not to move closer and closer to a monochromatic culture in which we, the state, have chosen the one dominant expression of freedom to be the only one tolerated by the state. We, the state, are repressing other values by not allowing even 1%, 5 days a year, of our time and space for the exercise and expression of non-market values.

Higher values such as love, altruism, benevolence, generosity, solidarity, civic duty are not like market values. These values need to be practiced to grow and become strong; they are not like money whose amount is reduced when spent. You do not save or hoard your love in order to keep it; you spend it and it grows, deepens and strengthens. Altruism, benevolence, generosity, solidarity and civic duty need to be exercised to grow. Let’s let them continue to have the time and space to grow.

If ever you have felt that there are not enough of these higher values in the world, I submit to you that part of the reason is the continual erosion of their public expression. These higher values are first expressed in time with family and significant others. It is with time with family and significant others that higher values (like love, generosity and solidarity) are most likely to create the defining moments that shape our lives for good. It is in moments of monetary loss, selfishness, and competition that most likely create defining moments shaped by less socially beneficial values.

Make no mistake, this is as high level as it gets. We are talking about social engineering; we are talking about which value or values we will have more or less freedom to express. And we are taking about the formation of this value or values in the consciousness of the body politic.

Please, let us continue to facilitate the conditions necessary for the expression of many freedoms and values – not just one. Please, consider your family: do you enjoy family time? – great, then don’t make it harder for others to enjoy.

Please, consider your leisure time: do you enjoy your time? – great – then don’t make it harder for others to enjoy.

Do you believe that there are other worthwhile values besides the self-interested right to shop – great – don’t crowd out these other values Please, do not let your hearts be hardened against the freedoms that come with a plurality of values.

Thank You.

Added on: April 5, 2016
By: James Jeff McLaren
© 2008 - 2018, James Jeff McLaren