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As an American, it confuses the heck out of me, too.

I sometimes think of the "retail ruining of Thanksgiving" as a pretty good argument against libertarianism. That is, if government mandated that stores can't open on Thanksgiving, pretty much EVERYONE benefits: stores don't really WANT to open early, they just want to open before their competitors. A mandated open time prevents the "race to the bottom... of Thanksgiving morning". Similarly, bargain hunters don't want to miss out on Thanksgiving either - they just want to get the best deals.




Merchants and consumers voluntarily doing something on or around a holiday you personally revere is definitely not an argument against libertarianism. Your "pretty much EVERYONE benefits" line is though, since libertarianism is very much concerned with individual rights over majority rule.

Keep in mind that some people not only like to stretch their dollar, but they don't have the luxury of shopping online, or when the malls are open. Not everyone works 9-5 on weekdays. Not everyone owns a computer, has broadband, or is computer savvy. And not everyone saves their "thanks" and family time for the last Thursday in November (some people actually bond during Black Friday shopping!). Majority opinion, thank God, is not how we run this country.


Keep in mind that stores employ people, and those employees don't often get a say in whether they work black friday or not (not if they want to stay very long at that store).

Ultimately, that's why I kind of finally got on board with the fact that most stores (and even restaurants) are closed on Sundays in France - especially since the rule on whether a store can be open on Sunday is that the owner of the store needs to be present during all business hours.


That law around the owner having to be present is a wonderful way of giving flexibility on opening hours, while making the person in power seriously consider the trade offs. I'm curious though, how does that work for chains such as Starbucks where I'm sure they don't mandate the CEO personally attend every branch.


Of course they get a say. No one is holding a gun to their head. Yeah, they might not stay at that store, but in a tight labor market, there's another workplace that would have a position that would fit their schedule or their life-work balance better.

But you need to trade your precious time and effort to get paid. Mandating that there should be no trade on the nth day of the week/month/year, days that were arbitrarily set by a bunch of dead white guys trying to appease their subjects or gods is just mind boggling to me. That should definitely not be a basis for a one-size-fits-all rule for people in vastly different circumstances who wish (often need) to trade or not trade.


How are they defining ownership? If someone takes out a mortgage on their store do they have to get the bank manager down there whenever they're open? Can a big firm nominate some putz to be the owner of record?


No on either, from my knowledge. Local towns also have stricter ownership laws and less franchises.


The point is that the two are economically equivalent.


I think it's an excellent argument FOR libertarianism. If something as minor as you being confused by stores not following your preconceptions about Black Friday (which is a completely artificial concept, and not invented by you either) is considered enough for government intervention and prohibiting people to shop when they want and store owners to open when they want - it definitely looks like an argument for not giving you (or anyone) a power to actually have such influence. The bar is just way too low. If people are unable to distinguish between their personal confusion and a serious problem that requires government to intervene, then limiting the access to government intervention as much as possible, at least until people are mature enough to distinguish between serious issues and their personal quirks, looks like a very prudent idea. The alternative would be a random hodgepodge of weird laws and bylaws, composed of somebody's personal quirks, by now long forgotten, which summarily is bad for everyone but not dismissed because everyone wants their chance to implement their own quirks. Which of course no country would want to happen to them... oh wait...


There are plenty of countries in the world that prevent stores from opening on specific days or times, and it's not exactly like these countries are backward cesspools of government oppression.




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