Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Roll Back This

Does Wal-Mart know they sell this book? That's awesome. (ed. note: This post was created because this book was up on Wal-Mart's site today...maybe it was a hacker, but the site was definitely selling it, as this Google search will illustrate.)

Regardless, the book makes a pretty good point. With more than 3,000 stores, a million-plus employees and annual sales topping one-quarter of a trillion dollars, Wal-Mart is undoubtedly a dominant economic force. And to many Wal-Mart shoppers, the prices are so low that you'd think the company can only be a giant plus for our economy. But it's not. It is for some, but not for everyone, especially its workers and suppliers.

I don't quite think Wal-Mart's going to destroy America by any means, but it's definitely fucking some shit up ala Vincent and Jules at Jimmy's house. I'm not gonna fuck with this capitalist machine we have here, so I'm not stumping for government intervention or boycotts or anything like that. But what these guys are doing is just completely fucked up, and I thought I'd point it out.

Wal-mart is accelerating the race to the bottom more than anyone who has come before it...The company tells its suppliers that if it can't meet the lowest price (read: Chinese imports) by lowering wages here in America and reducing the benefits of their workers, they should shut down production here and open factories somewhere else (read: China). In the meantime, Wal-Mart pays its employees shit wages and gives out lesser benefits than its rivals to begin with. And that results in a drain on public funds, in addition to ensuring the only placeits employees can shop is in its own stores! A recent study from U.C. Berkeley Labor Center, admittedly an institution with inherent bias, concluded Wal-Mart's wages are so far below other retailers, more of its workers rely on public assistance programs. The Berkeley study estimated that Wal-Mart's employees cost taxpayers in California alone $86 million a year in health care and welfare.

Wal-mart obviously disputes this claim, saying many of its workers are students, senior citizens and second wage earners with coverage from other sources -- total health care coverage is 90 percent, it says. But students, seniors and others don't comprise all of the company's employees...it also allegedly hires thousands of illegal immigrants to take advantage of cheaper labor and was recently the target of a Justice Department probe into the matter. It also employs and has employed millions of women, and 1.6 million of them recently filed the largest class-action discrimination lawsuit in the country's history. The lawsuit claims that Wal-Mart systematically pays women less than men in the same jobs and pushes them into the lower-paying jobs. Anything to ensure that the Whistling Smiley Face can do his job and roll back those fucking prices.

And for those of you who foolishly think we might have to pay back our deficits some day, Wal-Mart is doing its part to drive up that trade gap. The company imported at least $15 billion (that they admit to) worth of goods from China last year, its inventory of stock purchased this year is expected to hit $18 billion, and the company plans to grow that number by 20 percent each year. Our trade deficit with the world is rapidly approaching $600 billion, which would be nearly $200 billion greater than last year's record, and our growing gap with China is a big part of that increase. Nearly three-fourths of the crap sold in Wal-Mart stores is made in China. Depending on who you ask, if Wal-Mart were a country, it'd be either China's fifth or the eighth biggest trading partner. That's nuttier than elephant dung.

And now Wal-Mart's banning books too! Jon Stewart, George Carlin, here we go...say what you will about Target, but at least it's not a bookburner, you Nazi cow.

Ultimately, Wal-Mart's future is up to its consumers. The company has obviously been so successful at giving customers what they want that they're market share has dwarfed its competitors. If you like low prices and greetings from retahded senior citizens as you walk into a store, by all means go ahead and shop there. You're more than entitled. But these fuckers are putting their own suppliers and smaller stores out of business, they're forcing the consolidation of the retail industry to the point where big box retailers will be the only game in town, they're setting us up with higher deficits to be paid down later and they're compensating their employees like second class citizens. I just don't think that's too cool.

Shit, my boss is rubbing off on me. I was getting rusty, figured I'd slip into work mode briefly to stay fresh. I don't believe a word I just wrote. But maybe I do. I don't even know anymore.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger ethan said...

i'm not a fan of walmart (especially the censorship & sexist issues), but isn't it a right of the owner(s) to pay what salaries/benefits they want? if the workers don't like it, they can quit, can't they?

also, couldn't agree more about those greeters. jeepers creepers for sure.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Pink Lemonade Diva said...

Ahh, but that no-questions-asked return policy did come in handy once or twice back in college, yes?


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