Hytrek: Hey Joni, Christmas Isn’t Only About Presents

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

According to Sen. Joni Ernst throughout the past two months, Christmas this year has been ruined.

Our Republican junior senator suggested waiting for shipping times or not having something in stock in stores is a national tragedy. One that falls solely at the feet of President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats.

Giving gifts is a tradition for celebrating Christmas, certainly. But for someone who’s part of the party that often tells people to “remember the reason for the season” and “put the Christ back in Christmas,” shopping issues shouldn’t be able to ruin the holiday. 

After all, people can still go to services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hymns can be sung. Incense burned. The Christmas story can still be told and celebrated.

And for those who don’t celebrate religiously, this time can still signal the end of the year, some time off, and being with loved ones.

For those who like gift-giving: there are all kinds of options. Gift cards, pre-orders, subscriptions, shopping local for something that’s not-quite-but-close-to the original gift idea, making something by hand, designing a card to tell the recipient the gift is on its way but in the meantime, “here’s the awesome thing I got you.”

And according to conservatives, who get angry about Starbucks cup colors and the audacity of acknowledging not everyone celebrates Christmas at this time of year, shopping isn’t what’s supposed to be most important anyway.

Of course, it’s not actually about Christmas. And a lot of what Ernst said isn’t true in the first place.

Ernst has been using all of this to suggest President Joe Biden should fix supply chain problems that are affecting every country in the world. And he should fix high prices that are driven both by forces in his control and outside of it.

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Supply and demand were greatly affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for certain products sky-rocketed (toilet paper comes to mind), but people working for suppliers were either dying of COVID or they weren’t going into work because of COVID.

A lot of industries raised prices.

Because of the imbalance, demand has been higher than supply, which generally leads to higher prices for materials, which leads to higher prices for products. And the consequences have impacted people differently, with low-income households scaling back on shopping and high-income households doing the opposite.

“Due to surging product prices, 21% admitted they cut back on spending a little this season while 19% said they cut back on spending by a lot, according to a Monmouth University poll. However, 48% said their purchasing habits haven’t changed,” Fox Business wrote in the article Ernst shared.

But things have recovered from last year.

Stores like Walmart and Target have reported the fully stocked shelves Biden promised. Other outlets have pointed out that big-box retailers are first-in-line for shipments because of how many people rely on them.

Most national stories reporting on store inventory come from the week before Thanksgiving and Black Friday and shelves were well-stocked. In fact, several over-ordered to ensure that.

Instead of recognizing those things, conservatives like Ernst are pinning blame on government spending to help people weather and recover from the pandemic. Spending that started under the Trump Administration, and that economists don’t fully believe is responsible for inflation. 

Conservatives are also trying to block legislation such as the Build Back Better Act that would make the expanded child tax credit permanent, save people money on prescription drugs, and help parents afford and find child care so they can continue working. 

Which isn’t very fitting with the Christmas spirit. 


by Nikoel Hytrek

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