Saturday, November 12, 2005

What I Dislike About Wal-Mart:

What I dislike about Wal-Mart:
They targeted the downtowns of many small towns and gutted them.
Now while the people shopping there are the reason the downtowns closed down, I don't blame the shoppers. After all, we city dwellers have always had K-Marts and Meijers and Hudson's and many other stores; small towns had pretty much had to depend on the Sears Catalog or the occasional trip to the big city to get stuff. Now, we got this big box in some rural setting that offered everything you could ever want, and they worked like the devil to keep the prices low (so it seemed). Is it any wonder the local five-and dime descendant store couldn't survive?

The twenty-eight hour workweek.
Believe it or not, this was an idea brought about by the Great Depression (1929-1942) as an attempt to get more people hired. The idea was that workers would be eligible for overtime once they worked thirty hours in a week. The bill actually passed the senate back in the 1930's.

Now here's Wal-Mart, with their spin: 28 hours is all you work if you're starting, and you have a family to support we'll give you food stamp applications for you to fill out. That's right, friends: Wal-Mart, instead of hiring a few workers who can afford food from their jobs, makes it a point to have its employees leach off the Government.

Now: a forty hour week isn't too much for a company. It should be able to have its employees able to afford to live off whatever wage it pays their employees, even if that wage is as close to Minimum as they can get away with. And Wal-Mart makes a point of avoiding that (remember the Hispanic cleaners they lock in their stores?).

Dependance on China for their products.
When Mr. Sam Walton was alive, Wal-Mart may have been a bully to American small town business, but you knew the stuff was built where it was bought. He even made them fill out forms saying so. But when Sam died, the siblings turned around and said "To Hell with the US worker, Chinese workers are cheaper." So they shifted their purchasing office to Beijing and bought boats to import the stuff.

Sure, they buy stuff from farms. They ain't figured out how to import Quik chocolate Milk and Quisp Cereal yet.

The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla Effect
Remember when the Government would tell a corporation "You're too big, time to split into six different parts?" Not anymore, nowadays it's "You're not big enough, grow or die."

And while it's nice to know that the people who have a choice are making a point of ignoring Wal-Mart and its noise machine, the fact that that noise machine deafens by mere dint of its low-level hum of silence bigs me.

Think of it -- why else would country music become the most popular music in the country except that there were suddenly thousands and thousands of outlets in country-listening parts of the United States? While record stores in Collegetowns all over were closing up, Wal-Marts were opening up all over, bringing Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, and Patty Loveless to places where they were listened to but not really bought in mass before. So now, while Athens and Minneapolis and Tin Pan Alley begs for new blood, Nashville kicks people out because there's too many people begging for a spot at the base of the Country Music Pyramid.

Like I said, the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla Effect...

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