Massachusetts stays true to its blue laws
There’s no better phrase than conspicuous consumption to describe the orgy of excess that is Black Friday. The first day of the traditional holiday shopping season had been creeping earlier into the predawn morning after Thanksgiving.
This year, Walmart and Toys R Us decided to go for broke and open on Thanksgiving evening. Walmart decided to open at 10pm. Not to be outdone, Toys R Us went for 9 pm. With the economy still sluggish, retailers are eager to reel in holiday shoppers and to get a jump on the online outlets that have been steadily draining businesses away from bricks and mortar stores.
But if there is a force stronger than conspicuous consumption, it is the Bay State’s blue laws. Under the 21st century rendering of the 17th century edicts, employees cannot work until after 12 am on certain holidays, including Thanksgiving.
The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development website says that work may be performed on restricted holidays like Thanksgiving, provided the retailer obtains a local police permit and approval of the Department of Labor Standards.
The Bay State’s blue laws are the best defense for retail workers to maintain some semblance of a family holiday against over-eager retailers and those crazed shoppers who are willing to maim and kill to get a good deal not long after they’ve snapped the last turkey wishbone.
Though Massachusetts retailers complained about losing business to neighboring states with earlier opening hours, they were quick to capitulate. Wrentham Village Premium Outlets will open at 12:01 am. Macy’s will open at 12:30 am. Target and Best Buy pushed back to 1:00 am. Walmart went back to a 4:00 am opening.
Elsewhere, there is a small but significant backlash growing against this latest display of consumer capitalism run amok. One Nebraska Target worker started an online petition against the stores’ Thanksgiving hours that has attracted the support of nearly 100,000 people. There are 26 similar petitions circulating online.
Even the rationale for Black Friday is coming under fire. Though most retailers count on the holiday period to get into the black, Adam Davidson of National Public Radio’s Planet Money, argues in The New York Times that they should strive for “a few months” of Black Friday discounts to improve their bottom lines rather than relying on an intense burst of consumer spending.
Perhaps the best response is to just say no. The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary implores people to stay home, reminding readers that the much trumpeted savings are anything but. “Saving is an act signified by the absence of spending,” she says.
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Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch was so wrapped up in his reelection for a third term, he lagged on his other official duty — organizing his high school class 30th year reunion the day after Thanksgiving, which is his responsibility as former class president. He’s scrambling to get classmates to RSVP so his office put out a press release.
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Middle-class neighborhoods shrink across the country, replaced by pockets of wealth and poverty.
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Caution is the watchword in the Mitt Romney campaign, reports the Globe’s Matt Viser.
Elizabeth Warren is the “rock star” of the 2012 Senate campaign season.
Gov. Deval Patrick has renewed his request for $21 million in federal aid for commercial fishermen after an analysis found the state’s groundfish fleet shrank by 24 percent and nearly half of the remaining boats failed to break even because of catch share restrictions.
WGBH’s “Where We Live” series and its focus on the American Dream puts the spotlight on Chelsea and the issue of immigration on Greater Boston.
The US Post Office lost $5.1 billion last year.
The Boston School Committee approved a major school relocation and expansion plan over the strenuous objections of City Councilor Michael Ross, who opposed the planned move of the Mission Hill K-8 School to Jamaica Plain.
State education officials have tagged six chronically underperforming schools for major overhauls under the state’s 2010 reform law. Three of the schools are in Lawrence, where Mayor William Lantigua says the state should take over the entire district. Here is the Eagle-Tribune report. For the second year in a row, New Bedford has a school on the list. Most of the state’s 40 lowest-achieving and least-improving schools are in Gateway Cities, the Worcester Telegram reports.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth released the credit card records of the former law school dean, who abruptly resigned last month, but the school had to reissue a redacted version of the expense record after it included thousands of dollars in charges, including Amazon.com purchases, made by another employee.
Since the October snowstorm has already eaten up most of the snow days in Western Massachusetts school districts, the Springfield Republican says now would be a good time to debate extending the school year.
Tufts Medical Center and its affiliated physicians are threatening to stop accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts insurance coverage in a dispute over payment levels.
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Fall River city councilors voted unanimously to borrow the funds to buy trucks and bins to expand the recycling program citywide.
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CRIMINAL JUSTICEComedian Steve Sweeney, who appeared at MassINC’s Serious Fun event last week, is hit by a beer glass after a show in Saugus, NECN reports.