The Peoples’ Heat & Light Company wins again
This observer always figured the Political Correctness (PC) Crowd would shoot themselves in the foot. Based on the PC Crowd’s “War on Christmas,” that time may have come.
While economic boycotts don’t work very well against dictatorships like Cuba, they are very effective within capitalist, sales-driven economies like the United States. Even the economy of socialist France is reeling under the impact of the refusal of many Americans to buy their wines, cheeses, pig snouts, snails and other products -- like white flags.
While some of us might feel powerless politically, virtually everyone can decide where they choose to spend their hard-earned dollars. Therefore, when the people learn this store or that treats their employees shabbily or wants to ban even the mention of a tradition like Christmas, I figure that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market place is all the “correction” that is needed.
Via the Fox News Channel and via the American Family Association (AFA) web pages (www.afa.net), it was revealed that some major retailers were no longer going to celebrate Christmas. Once this information became widely known, a torrent of complaint letters and e-mails descended upon the retailers’ corporate headquarters.
So, once again, we see the power of “The Peoples’ Heat and Light Company.” If you apply enough heat, “they” begin to see the light. Major corporations that had previously banned Christmas but have now seen the “light” are: Lowe’s, JC Penney, Target, Sears, K-Mart, Dillards, Kohl’s and Federated Stores (Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Filene’s and Marshall Fields).
As of December 12, 2005, these major corporations have yet to see the “light:” Costco, Nordstrom, Office Max, Office Depot, Home Depot, Best Buy, L.L. Bean, Zales, Outback, Old Navy and Wal-Mart. But Bill O’Reilly is still working on them.
Wal-Mart? The manager of a nearby Wal-Mart told me he had received a written order from Wal-Mart headquarters saying employees are not to greet customers with “Merry Christmas;” however, if customers want to say: “Merry Christmas,” then Wal-Mart employees are permitted [italics mine] to say “Merry Christmas” in response. I asked about “Happy Chanukkah” and “Happy Kwanzaa?” Again, if the customer initiates such greetings, Wal-Mart employees are allowed [italics mine] to respond in kind.
Over 80-percent of Americans profess some type of religious affiliation. Over 95-percent observe Christmas in some way, if only to give Christmas gifts. Roughly, America is about 77-percent Christian, 1.3-percent Jewish, and the remainder various other faiths. Muslins total 0.5-percent. Only 0.4-percent identify themselves as atheists.
So, from a marketing perspective, banning Christmas and/or censoring employee greetings makes no business sense. Last year, Federated Stores banned Christmas and their sales plummeted. This year, Federated responded to The Peoples’ Heat and Light Company as follows: “…we warmly embrace customers who visit our stores during the Christmas season-whether it’s to shop for gifts for friends, for their families, or for themselves… Throughout the holiday shopping season, our associates are encouraged to wish our customers Merry Christmas or Feliz Navidad or Happy Hanukkah or Habari Gani or Happy Kwanzaa, as appropriate.
“We offer “Merry Christmas” electronic gift cards at every point-of-sale terminal. The word “Christmas” is used in our 2005 holiday TV advertising jingle. The word “Christmas” is mentioned in our holiday print ads. “Merry Christmas” is prominent in many merchandise items in our trim-a-tree shop and elsewhere in the stores…Please accept our wishes for a happy, joyous and peaceful Christmas season….”
Clearly, even we minor stockholders in The Peoples’ Heat and Light Company can cause major corporations to stop and reconsider the banning of Christmas from their stores. Meanwhile, it might be a good idea for stockholders and corporate board members to question the business acumen of CEOs who order the banning of Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever --not about what the CEOs may personally believe or disbelieve about religion -- but about their business savvy. For more on this subject, let me suggest: The War on Christmas by John Gibson. It’s $16.95 on www.amazon.com.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2005. William Hamilton.