Remember Sears & Roebuck?

Sears and Roebuck have been around roughly twice as long as I have been.

I can remember pawing though the catalog as a kid figuring out what I wanted for Christmas while parents selected clothing to order.

I still get my pants and shirts from Sears, but I have come to dread walking in the place.  I am sure I do not shop there as much as I would if it was not for the hounding I get to sign up for a credit card every time I check out.

As soon as they tell me I can save $16.00 on my $80.00 purchase by signing up, I can feel the hair on my neck start to bristle and my temperature rise.  Am I missing something?  Do they really think my having a card it is going to make me buy more stuff?  Will my additional purchases more than offset the $16.00 and the additional costs of spewing out more pieces of plastic and monthly billing or other paperwork?

I DON’T THINK SO!

Instead, it is close to making me, never walk in the door again.

What really gets me is, if they can afford to give me a discount as an incentive to sign up for a credit card, they are ripping me off for $16.00 if I don’t.  Why not just make the stuff $16.00 cheaper and encourage more people to shop just because the stuff is priced fairly?

There is another factor as well.  I have actually gone through the process in the past, but because I never use the card, I have to do it all over again every time I buy something.  Of course they always argue it only takes a few seconds to fill out the paperwork.

I DON’T THINK SO!

It leaves me feeling there must be something else going on.  Then again, the fact the parking lot is always empty and there is hardly ever anyone in the store (and there is almost never anyone to wait on you), may be a hint sears will not be around much longer–in spite of their long history.

Why can’t businesses just provide good service at fair prices and skip all the gimmicks?

Charles Buell

Merry Every Thing!

While Christianity has “renamed” the season to suit its own purposes, the Winter Season truly is the “Season for All Humanity” regardless of religion. In many cases, in spite of religion.

Of course the fact “Christmas” includes Christ’s name, it is only logical the celebration of his birth would be deemed “Christmas.”  However most scholars agree it is highly unlikely Jesus was actually born on December 25–or even in the winter.

A more likely reason for the choice of that day for his birth was for a struggling upstart religious movement to usurp pagan seasonal rituals popular at the time.  If the coat tails are already in place, why not use them?

Contrary to popular belief (in predominately Christian parts of the world) the season is not “owned” by Christians. While some call their holiday “Christmas,” other holidays chosen by most of the rest of the world have equally valid names.  Names like, the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa and a many others.

In that sense, “Happy Holidays” could be considered the most “inclusive” of terms and more imperative to a world in desperate need of “anything” that helps us see how we are all on this planet together.

I am sure all the various holidays that have sprung up at this time of year have had an element of just “getting-me-through-the-night.” The longer nights and shorter days must have been quite an ordeal for people just trying to survive.  Add to that a bit of superstition, lack of education, and tyrannical special interests and you have the perfect recipe for the season becoming magical.

It is interesting that the only persons who seem to get their Christmas stockings all in a bunch about NOT calling the season the “Christmas Season” or saying “Merry Christmas” are Christians.  It is totally fine for them to call it Christmas and say Merry Christmas if they choose, just as it is fine for the rest of the world do not do so if they choose.

I am quite OK with our government’s tip-toeing around the words used related to the Holidays.  It is important that our government be for all of us–regardless our personal beliefs.

The various ways people choose to celebrate this change of seasons and entry into a New Year, is, and should be, as varied as the number of people there are to celebrate it.

If you find yourself among the 32% of the world’s population who identify themselves as “Christian,” and who insists “Merry Christmas” is the only correct way to say it, the remaining 68% of the world still manages to merrily and happily find their way into the New Year regardless.

Whether one says Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings–or Nothing at All—it is ALL good!

I kind of like the sign I saw in a store window the other day that said: “Merry Every Thing!”

So, MERRY EVERY THING EVERY ONE!

Charles Buell

The Great MYME

wp_20161001_20_17_38_richI know there is a lot of angst over this election and many of the issues are complicated, but let’s see if we can simplify the problem.

The Republican Party platform or agenda can be boiled down to some basic principles.

1.    There is an American Dream that has been lost–when what we actually cling to is closer to a nightmare.

2.    There is a notion that somehow we have gotten away from our constitutional government—even though we have a Supreme Court that is arguably more functional than the other branches of government.

3.    That somehow the earth’s resources belong to Americans—even though they belong to all of humanity—including the resources in our own country.

4.    That somehow American families are no longer great–even though they never have been wholly, but can be on occasion.

5.    There is a notion that fixing healthcare involves supporting the insurance industry–even though with it the profit motive reduces the amount of money that could greatly offset the cost of health care for us all.  There may indeed be some painful catch-up as we all get to a place where we are paying our fair share.

6.    There is a notion that somehow we are not the great power in the world we once were–even though sometimes that should not be our job when we are merely being a bully.

7.    The notion that government is too big is also a common thread—when all evidence points to its not being big enough (and while it is broken, so is the private sector, we do not need to throw either baby out with the bath water).  We only have to look to our crumbling infrastructure, lack of construction oversight, delays in public works, underfunded education etc.  And why are these problems?  Because we lack the will to pay for them.

There will always be the wrestle between what appears “socialist” and “capitalist.” But it should be clear to anyone paying attention that neither one can ever be entirely the answer.  There is no reason to think we cannot be a country that does what it takes to function, use whatever means works, as opposed to beating dead horses for all eternity.

Behind the thin veil of these principles is the ugly underbelly of exclusiveness, nationalism, entitlement, religious intolerance, racial intolerance, social intolerance, bigotry, selfishness and wishful thinking.

When we have a MY and Me approach to the problems we face on the planet, and become unable to see the WE and US that is necessary, we ultimately all suffer. Sure this means we may not get what we “want” all the time but perhaps we can all get a better share of what we need.

Americans are a better people than to promote walls that will never be built, support insurance companies and corporations when they become nothing but leaches or parasites, and/or promote one religion’s views over another.

So as we all go to the poles it is important to consider which candidate is more likely to be about the MY and ME as opposed to the WE and US.  Ultimately, if the planet is to survive the MYME stands to make out better if the WEUS is paramount.

The road to ruin is paved with greed, selfishness, arrogance, and ignorance.  While these will always be present in whichever road we go down, let US at least attack the issues with WE and US first.

Charles Buell