Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Dec. 2

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: Christmas festivities, underpaid farmers, online shopping scams, 211 to the rescue

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Finless Monette, left, Vera Kroshus, middle, and Jonah Monette of Alexandria had their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Christmas in the Fort Friday, Nov. 25.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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Making Christmas memories

Thumbs Up: Alexandria’s kick-off to the Christmas season keeps getting better and better. Last Friday, was filled with festivities – Christmas in the Fort, the Parade of Trees, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Light Up Broadway to turn on the downtown Christmas decorations, and a Lights on Broadway Holiday Parade. The energy and enthusiasm that organizers and volunteers put into these events is amazing. Did everything go exactly as planned? Maybe not. But the fact that Alexandria was able to put together a celebration that brought joy to hundreds of people from throughout the region was an impressive accomplishment. All those who played a role deserve to be on the “nice list” this Christmas.

Farmers not getting a fair share

Thumbs Down: The National Farmers Union notes that corporate profits and consumer food costs continue to go up and up, but the share of the farmer’s share of the food dollar remains low. NFU President Rob Larew said that even though consumers are paying more for food this year, almost none of that increase is being passed on to America’s family farmers and ranchers. Multiple waves of mergers and acquisitions during the last several decades resulted in agriculture and food supply chains that are not only uncompetitive and fragile but also underpay farmers, according to Larew. The NFU provided a breakdown of a typical 2022 Thanksgiving meal and how much of a share farmers received. Turkey: retail price – $1.99/pound, farmer’s share – $0.06/pound; sweet corn (16 oz. frozen): retail price – $2.59, farmer’s share – $0.44; stuffing (12 oz. box): retail price – $3.59, farmer’s share – $0.13; boneless ham (2 lb): retail price – $12.98, farmer’s share – $1.00; mashed potatoes (5 lb bag): retail price – $5.99, farmer’s share – $1.30; apple pie filling (21 oz. can): retail price – $4.99, farmer’s share – $1.03. Food for thought.

Falling for online shopping scams

Thumbs Down: If you think you’re too smart to fall for online shopping scams, think again. It happens way more often than most people would like to believe. Nearly 100 million Americans have fallen victim to online shopping scams in the last year, according to research from the cybersecurity company, NordVPN. A whopping 37% of Americans have been scammed while shopping online – equivalent to 95.6 million people. NordVPN warns that the task of online criminals is being made easier by the millions of U.S. consumers prepared to offer up a “treasure trove” of personal information in exchange for an extra markdown or freebie – and those who have already been scammed are at the front of the queue. Of those people who have previously experienced a scam, many admit they’d still be prepared to hand over a bunch of bizarrely irrelevant information to get a big discount or freebie. Here’s some numbers: One in 10 (10.5%) would hand over their credit card details, 7.6% would give their social security number and one in eight (12.2%) would reveal where they worked. Another 7% would even reveal their children’s names for the chance to bag an extra bargain. All told, 88.6% of scam victims are still willing to hand over at least some personal data to land a bonus gift, discount or free service.

211 helps people get out of a jam

Thumbs Up: Most everyone has heard of 911 and how it provides emergency responses. But not nearly as many people know what 211 is. The United Way of Douglas and Pope County is trying to change that. 211 is a phone number operated and supported by many United Ways to ensure every person has access to the critical resources in their community, according to Jen Jabas, the local United Way director. In a nutshell, 211 connects people in need with the best resources available to them. It helps people dealing with a variety of situations – finding affordable childcare, accessing healthcare, buying healthy food and securing a job that pays the bills and other essential needs. 211 is an unmatched, critical service here to help, Jabas noted. Through 211, clients can access free resources for confidential crisis and emergency counseling, disaster assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, stable housing and utilities payment assistance, employment services, veteran services and childcare and family services. No matter the situation, the specialists at 211 listen, identify underlying problems, and connect people in need with community resources and services that improve their lives. 211 is free, accessible 24/7/365, completely confidential and available in multiple languages providing expert, caring help to people who are in need of resources and support.

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

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