Same job, different uniform.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Vast Vilification of Wal-Mart

Am I the only one who is sick and tired of hearing and reading about the evils of Wal-Mart? The company is regularly flogged publically - by condescending urban city councils, local governments, and most recently the FDIC who denied Wal-Mart's application for banking status, putting a moratorium on further applications for 6 months, after approving the same thing for the likes of Target, Pittney Bowes, and Volkswagon.

Maybe I am the only one who is sick of the trend - because alot of people from all kinds of economic, social and political backgrounds seem to agree that Wal-Mart is the devil. And I don't personally love the place.

But I'm willing to admit this about myself with regard to my Wal-Mart sentiments: they smack of a kind of bigotry towards what we in America like to call "white trash." And I'm wondering how many other folks are actually disguising this exact same feeling with rubbish like, "It ruins small communities." Really? Name one? Or "they don't pay their employees enough?" Hmm. Okay, show me where they pay their employees substantially less than any other business that does the same thing they do? Or "they don't have good benefits packages?" Oh, well, I bet they are heck of a lot better than the benefits packages that employees of all the "mom and pops" we are so fond of eulogizing could pay their one or two clerks. I'm betting most of those places didn't even HAVE benefits packages.

Don't get me wrong - I like the idea of little indepent boutiques and businesses that sell all kinds of specialized items. But, well, frankly - I can't afford it. And neither can a lot of people. And if Wal-Mart wasn't in business, we wouldn't be able to buy all that stuff we are so fond of. We'd just do without. Which is fine. But if we are "doing without," then those "mom and pops" go out of business - with or without a Wal-Mart around. And it's not like those places were employing some vast workforce - they weren't. Wal-Mart does. And it does pay their employees as well as can probably be expected for the kind of work they do.

There isn't one of us out there who would pay a person who runs items across a scanning window and then hits a button to total it all up, $10 an hour if we had our own little "boutique." And stocking shelves? If I had to pay someone $15 an hour to do that, I'd just do it myself and that would be one less job in the marketplace.

So see - all this is pretty logical. And if given the same set of circumstances most of us would rationally act in our best economic interest. And yet, daily Wal-Mart is vilified as an evil American enterprise that does nothing but ruin the American economic landscape, trash communities and force their employees to use medical welfare.

And I say: what we really don't like about Wal-Mart is two-fold: some of the kinds of people we see shopping there and unfettered consumption.

I won't go into detail here about the "kinds" of people shopping there. You know what I'm talking about. Those of us who like and can afford boutiques think that somehow we are at least a teeny bit better than those of us who have to buy the "Jaclyn Smith" collection. Who knows if "those" people are really the majority of folks who shop at Wal-Mart. I doubt it. And even if it is, why do we give ourselves a pass here? An allowance to harbour this animosity and to set ourselves above any of those folks?

And as for unfettered consumption? Look inward, friends, look inward. We in America love to shop and buy and own. We shop and we shop and we shop. We buy food in grocery stores and gourmet markets, in upscale eateries and fast food restaurants, in Wal-Marts and Targets and gas stations. We buy shoes and clothes and sporting goods and books and toys and coffee and 2 X 4's and eye hooks and carpets and furniture and candles and stuff and stuff and stuff and stuff and STUFF! (There is a Dr. Suess book there somewhere I'm sure of it!) And it 'aint the fault of Wal-Mart that we do.

They are just capitolizing on it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experience in my very short (1 year) retail career. For $6.50/hr these folks work hard. At some retailers, everyone does everything - cashier, stock, sales, whatever they tell you to do and NOW! I broke a sweat every single shift. At others, a cashier is a cashier but everyone is on their feet and I'm still recovering from my plantar fasciatis which caused a bone spur which split into sharp pieces which caused unrelenting pain and I haven't worked there for 2 years now. I worked there to supplement our household income. Many were there making a living for their families. Some are part of the 'working poor' you hear about. Many are college students. Others are career retail people. It's a whole different world compared to the big corporate engineering career I had.

Stephanie (who now is happily working at the library!)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I buy Mobil-1 synthetic oil in the the 5 quart jugs at Wally world at great savings!

Friday, October 27, 2006


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