Join 3,551 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

The Midnight Baby Food Bread Line
September 22, 2010 12:24 PM   Subscribe

"And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they've been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours -- come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason."
posted by jefficator (133 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Only one other reason to shop at midnight. Waiting for your 21st birthday to buy beer.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:28 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Only one other reason to shop at midnight. Waiting for your 21st birthday to buy beer.

I don't know which thought is sadder. Having to put off feeding your child until the first minute of the first of the month rolls around, or buying your 21st-birthday beer at Wal-Mart.

...

Oh, wait. Yes, I do. The formula thing is sadder.
posted by gurple at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


From the article:
But what you might not know is that in August the Senate cut funding for the SNAP program, as part of a deal to ensure that "legislation enacted to save teacher and other public sector jobs and to provide support to the states attempting to shore up Medicaid budgets" was "deficit-neutral."

The funding cuts for SNAP don't kick in until 2014...

Senate Republicans are demanding that tax cuts for the wealthy -- costing around $700 billion over the next ten years -- be retained, regardless of the impact on government finances. But money directly targeted at saving public sector jobs and paying for Medicaid must be offset by cuts to the welfare net for the poorest Americans. No baby formula for you ma'am, but we're happy to subsidize your new BMW, mister hedge fund manager
Sums up my feeling pretty well. This is garbage.
posted by andreaazure at 12:33 PM on September 22, 2010 [18 favorites]


Jesus that's depressing.

As a lot of folks here know I'm really politically focused but even for me the tax cut stuff is where I just draw the line of rational comprehension. It's not a liberal/conservative thing; I really just don't understand how so many people- by that I mean millions, tens of millions of Americans- aren't outraged that cutting taxes for people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is a national priority when people are. Is it some selfish belief that in ten years they could have that much money? Is it just a "principle" thing? And if so what are their "principles" exactly?

It's like the people who said they oppose health care because it would lead to "rationing." In other words you accept that the current system doesn't cover everyone. So you are advocating, without having the balls to say it, that we keep a system that deliberately allows people to get sick and die when they don't need to. Because, I don't know. Rationing is a scary word.

In the last two years, both socially and politically, I feel as though I have never before seen such a large percentage of the population celebrating the deliberate creation of human suffering, and I don't understand why.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:34 PM on September 22, 2010 [136 favorites]


"when people are." = "when people are starving to death."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:37 PM on September 22, 2010


Today's rich no longer want to provide the poor even with bootstraps
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:38 PM on September 22, 2010 [43 favorites]


I feel as though I have never before seen such a large percentage of the population celebrating the deliberate creation of human suffering, and I don't understand why.

It's the myth of the false meritocracy and the idea there's not enough to go around. "The people who are suffering (who aren't you, or people like you) deserve it, and if they weren't suffering, you'd be suffering in their place."

No, there is no logic to it. Yes, it is as fucking simple as "learn to share" in kindergarten left unlearned.

Pile on the myths of some people are human and some aren't really, and there you go.
posted by yeloson at 12:38 PM on September 22, 2010 [24 favorites]


to buy beer.

You can do both! (Though the formula makes the beer too frothy, followed shorty by chunky and flat.)

Srsly, this is all seven colours of sad. The worst part is that I'm not sure how to help. I'm betting that a better social safety net in the US is a start. Maybe I should write to more of my reps?
posted by poe at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2010


It's ridiculous that I've never heard or even thought about this before, yet every day-after-Thanksgiving we see nonstop coverage of people waiting in line for Black Friday deals on junk to buy for Christmas. Thanks for posting this.
posted by thorny at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is it just a "principle" thing? And if so what are their "principles" exactly?

For most it just comes down to either "government is always bad" (so starve the beast) or "liberals are always wrong" (so oppose whatever they support).

It's not even really correlated to income, I know plenty of people making well under 50k/yr who are for extending all the cuts, and plenty of people making 200/250+ who are for dropping the cuts. It really comes down to political philosophy more than income (that being said, there are also the pragmatic voters with little political philosophy, and I would image those break more on income lines, but who knows -- they dont tend to talk about politics).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:41 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


regarding hedge fund managers... I always found it a bit of a disconnect that the Bush twins actually have had an interesting and somewhat worthwhile careers, teaching, UNICEF work, working with AIDS patients in Africa, Global health Corps, the Smithsonian, while Chelsea Clinton has worked for a Business Consulting form and a Hedge fund firm.

This is not a smear, or really intended to be pejoratively at all, just an observation. It seems all these ladies are very smart and doing well, but if I had to guess 15 years ago who would do what I'd have the list all wrong.
posted by edgeways at 12:48 PM on September 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


I still get a little skip in my heart on the first of every month. My brother, sister and I grew up on food stamps and an AFDC check every first of the month. All of the neighbor kids' parents were on welfare too so the first of the month was always a party. The five or seven days before the first of the next month were agonizing because we were reduced to eating dried noodles (water was cut off) or stuff we could steal from the local supermarket. We hated not only being hungry but being around my mother who was always in a foul mood. Checking the mail on the first of the month was like buying winning lottery tickets. We knew there would be "good" food for at least the next 2-3 weeks. If it were not for the State of Minnesota and their "socialist" government, we would have literally starved to death. That point is lost on my now-ultra conservative, gun-toting, immigrant hating brother and sister.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [107 favorites]


I really just don't understand how so many people- by that I mean millions, tens of millions of Americans- aren't outraged that cutting taxes for people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is a national priority when people are. Is it some selfish belief that in ten years they could have that much money?

One of my favorite quotes from the West Wing regarding this very phenomenon:

Bartlet : "It doesn't matter if most voters don't benefit, they all believe that someday they will. That's the problem with the American Dream, it makes everyone concerned for the day they're gonna be rich."
posted by ejazen at 12:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm hoping in my next comment I can work in "first of the month" more.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's like the people who said they oppose health care because it would lead to "rationing." In other words you accept that the current system doesn't cover everyone. So you are advocating, without having the balls to say it, that we keep a system that deliberately allows people to get sick and die when they don't need to. Because, I don't know. Rationing is a scary word.

Because rationing is in the hands of a government subject to the voting power of the unwashed masses, whereas purchasing health care is in YOUR control. The corollary to the rags-to-riches American dream is that YOU success it happen through YOUR hard work.

In an unjust society, suffering is endemic to the system. In a "just society like a "merit"ocracy, what you have is a product of YOUR hard work.

That is why tea parties are so vehemently angry. They've bought in to this notion that they control their circumstances, and they are livid that a bunch of bleeding heart liberals want to wrest that control away.
posted by jefficator at 12:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It gets even better. Right after the election, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will publish their final report explaining why we have to cut Social Security.

In 2008, Candidate Obama mocked the very idea of appointing a bipartisan commission to deal with Social Security:
I think we should be honest in presenting our ideas in terms of how we’re going to do that and not just say that we’re going to form a commission and try to solve the problem some other way.
In 2010, after Congress voted down a bill that would have created such a bipartisan commission, President Obama created the Catfood Commission by Executive Order.

And now Alice Rivlin, the chief wonk President Obama appointed to the Commission, has been running around telling any journalist who will listen that they’ve got to raise the retirement age and reduce cost-of-living adjustments in order to “strengthen” Social Security. It’s no surprise. It’s what she’s wanted to do for years. You don’t appoint her unless that’s what you plan to do.

posted by Joe Beese at 12:53 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Formula ain't cheap.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:53 PM on September 22, 2010


I still get a little skip in my heart on the first of every month. My brother, sister and I grew up on food stamps and an AFDC check every first of the month. All of the neighbor kids' parents were on welfare too so the first of the month was always a party.

I was unemployed for eight months from last June to this February. I say tons of shit about the Obama administration and I don't take any of it back, but I also point out where praise is due and Jesus Christ, unemployment is why I'm not homeless right now. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm under 30 (barely), in good health and with a college degree. There are people in their 50's who will never work again. Ever. Because no one wants to hire "old people."

And the solution being discussed is if we should raise the retirement age. Because, again, returning the top tax rate to twenty percent less than it was during the era of horrific depression known as the New Deal would be a creeping rise toward fascism.

I read the other week about schools that are asking children to bring toilet paper with them as part of their "supplies." This is how empires die.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2010 [26 favorites]


Bartlet : "It doesn't matter if most voters don't benefit, they all believe that someday they will. That's the problem with the American Dream, it makes everyone concerned for the day they're gonna be rich."

or as George Carlin said,
"It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."
posted by timsteil at 12:56 PM on September 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


One of the little known facts and stories about the Rodney King riots were exacerbated by the fact that it occurred at the end of the month, in the bad old days when welfare checks were paper checks that needed to be cashed.

Guess what happens when the welfare office isn't open to deliver checks, the post office isn't delivering checks and the banks are all closed, too. Guess what happens when the corner store isn't cashing the one you do have. Guess what happens when the corner store is ON FIRE, preventing you from buying anything with whatever money you do have.

Now guess what happens when you see a neighbor helping himself to a television...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:57 PM on September 22, 2010 [27 favorites]


The only way to win the war against poverty is to subvert the myth that "financial success = morality" and "financial difficulties = moral failure".

That's the way the Right views it, and no amount of rational proof will convince them otherwise. As long as the Right has any power whatsoever, that's the way it will be. The solution is to crush the Right using any means necessary. I have said it before, they won't respect anything but a boot in the face, and oddly, they will respect that.

The Left needs to grow a pair, and now.
posted by Xoebe at 12:57 PM on September 22, 2010 [37 favorites]


Is it just a "principle" thing? And if so what are their "principles" exactly?

For most it just comes down to either "government is always bad" (so starve the beast) or "liberals are always wrong" (so oppose whatever they support).


I think that it is about teams. The two parties have been cast as opposing teams. One team is composed of people who are rich and successful, religious, and/or white. The other team is composed of people who are gay, black, Hispanic, disabled, and/or poor.

Many white people don't like the idea of being on the same team as gays, blacks, Hispanics, etc. That sounds like a bunch of losers. So they join the other team.

I don't think poor white people support the Republican Party because they think they will be rich some day. I think they do it because they don't want to be lumped in with people they think are beneath them. It's an association thing.
posted by flarbuse at 12:59 PM on September 22, 2010 [32 favorites]


There are people in their 50's who will never work again. Ever. Because no one wants to hire "old people."

Guns are still cheap and widely available.
posted by aramaic at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2010


I read the other week about schools that are asking children to bring toilet paper with them as part of their "supplies." This is how empires die.

It was never as bad as having to bring toilet paper, but a standard part of the back to school shopping list at my elementary school in small-town Arkansas in the 1980s was a box of tissues. Classes would start the year with a giant Wall O' Kleenex, which slowly dwindled down to nothing over the course of the year.

It doesn't matter if most voters don't benefit, they all believe that someday they will. That's the problem with the American Dream, it makes everyone concerned for the day they're gonna be rich.

The other problem is that it's total nonsense. Class mobility in modern America is terrible: "By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark." And that from a report in 2006. I'll bet it's even worse now.

European socialists are better at the American Dream than we are.
posted by jedicus at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


"That's the problem with the American Dream, it makes everyone concerned for the day they're gonna be rich."

And then there's the problem with legislature and fine print: the people who really need to know the details don't have the time to read it. It's up to watchdog groups and journalists to catch the shady goings-on and inform others, who can then act as they see fit by contacting their representatives or voting in the next elections.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2010


Let them eat Baby Food Bread!
posted by swift at 1:05 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


European socialists are better at the American Dream than we are.

I'd revise that and say European socialists get closer to the American Dream than we Americans do.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:05 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Formula ain't cheap.

That's on the retail end. It doesn't cost very much to make, and it's so regulated that the cheapest brand is nearly chemically identical to the most expensive.

Know what? It's bullshit that people are gathered at midnight on Check Day to buy it. If there's one thing that the government should be able to provide, it's baby formula. Free formula to everyone who needs it. Take two drops out of the bucket of defense spending and give a generous supply of formula to every month to every child that needs it.

Who the hell could be against the government feeding babies? Oh right, Nestle. And they have money to buy congressmen and poor babies don't.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:06 PM on September 22, 2010 [91 favorites]


I would be curious to know what the chances are that Wal-Mart has formula/bread/beans/whatever on special on the first of the month. I'd not be surprised to learn that impulse buys are featured prominently on the first. Staples not so much.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:06 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know baby formula is just one example, but it got me thinking - is there a solvable issue with breastfeeding in poor communities? That might be a way to save some money, I'd think - investing in training, equipment, and other support mechanisms might help reduce the need for (very expensive) alternative ways of feeding infants.
posted by brandman at 1:09 PM on September 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


i haven't had a steady job since january... surviving because of food stamps.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I voted for Obama, but I'm just baffled by him. I mean, wasn't fixing stuff like this the whole point of the election?

I keep thinking about that Neil Young line from Rust Never Sleeps, "You pay for this, but they give you that."

Hmmm...Outstanding idea: Think I'll go put that on now...
posted by silkyd at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a semi-non-sequitur, I found myself wondering earlier today (before reading this thread) why it seems like no supposedly-socially-conscious Hollywood stars ever use their clout to get produced, and star in, big event movies about poverty in America. Obviously there are movies about poverty in America, but let's face it, the only way for such a film (and its message) to register on the consciousness of mainstream America is for Angelina Jolie to be the lead.
posted by AugieAugustus at 1:12 PM on September 22, 2010


I would love to see scratch lottery ticket sales by time of month. In my old neighborhood, I swear that the people buying tickets in the corner store at the end of the month would buy a huge pile of tickets. A last ditch, desperate attempt to make the rent, maybe?
posted by R. Mutt at 1:12 PM on September 22, 2010


Above and beyond the class warfare pointed out by others - the irony of Wal-Mart discussing food stamps and welfare is almost too much for me to handle.

We might not be so bad off if Wal-Mart didn't pay the bare minimum wage, lock people into part time hours to avoid paying benefits and they weren't actively fighting unionization every single inch of the way - all while exporting the vast majority of their production and manufacturing to China, or pushing domestic suppliers so hard they go bankrupt trying to meet Wal-Mart's demands. ! person in 120 directly works for Wal-Mart in the US. ! in 3 shops there. If it was a nation it'd be the 21st largest economy. Talk about your fuckin' cyberpunk fiction burbclaves - it has more political and financial power then more then half of the countries in the UN. People actually live in Wal-Mart parking lots in RVs while cruising from Wal-Mart lot to Wal-Mart lot. They just need to set up some coffin hotels or HUD-sponsored low income housing and they can close the loop.

I can't help but read this as "Well, food stamps are money, too. Let's wring 'em for everything they've got." I wouldn't be surprised in the least if I learned they withheld from operating or starting sale prices long after the 1st of the month to maximize every penny.

On a side note - waiting around Wal-Mart for your foodstamps or welfare benefits to kick in at midnight sounds insanely depressing. I've been there - not at a Wal-Mart - but I've been there. What really sucks is when they don't drop when they're supposed to or there's an error or other delay. Think about it. You're broke. You're hungry. Maybe you have hungry, noisy kids with you up way past their bedtime. You just spent an hour carefully shopping for the best balance of the cheapest, most decent food you can find. You're trying to do math and compare notes in your head and make important choices while hungry and shaky and then you go to check out and... "Wha... what do you mean my card is declined?"

YOU'RE REGISTERED TO VOTE, AREN'T YOU? YOU'RE VOTING, RIGHT? NEED I REMIND YOU THAT EVERY RACIST DIMWITTED NUTJOB IN THE COUNTRY IS GOING TO BE VOTING OUT OF MALICE, STUPIDITY AND ANGER THIS NOVEMBER JUST BECAUSE WE HAVE A HALF BLACK, HALF WHITE PRESIDENT, RIGHT? IF THAT DOESN'T PUT THE FEAR OF THE GODS IN YOU AND MOTIVATE YOU, I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE WILL.
posted by loquacious at 1:14 PM on September 22, 2010 [111 favorites]


> I read the other week about schools that are asking children to bring toilet paper with them as part of their "supplies."

Holy cow.

"State and local school financing, which make up almost all of public schools' money, is falling because of budget-balancing efforts and lower property-and sales-tax revenue."

Personally, I'd be ashamed to live in a place where kids had to go to school with a couple of rolls of toilet paper in their backpacks because my fellow citizens just didn't want to pay taxes, but then again I'm a Canadian socialist commie ivory tower elitist.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:14 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Bartlet : "It doesn't matter if most voters don't benefit, they all believe that someday they will. That's the problem with the American Dream, it makes everyone concerned for the day they're gonna be rich."

I'm sure that's part of it, but the justification I hear repeated most often is that tax cuts for the wealthy encourage them to employ more people, creating jobs. In fact, I overheard some random stranger making that argument at a hot dog cart not too long ago.

The frustrating thing about this talking point is, as I understand things, it's completely untrue. Income for a small business owner is, by definition, money they've taken out of the business to pay themselves with. If taxes on income are high, they'll be encouraged to leave their money in the business and grow it into a bigger reservoir of wealth - low capital gains and income taxes encourage business owners to pay themselves more and try to grow that cash with speculative investments.

Can anyone disabuse me of this notion? It's frustrating that "tax cuts create jobs" is such an oft-repeated piece of "common sense" when, as far as I can tell, it's theoretically unsound and empirically disproven (ie, the "jobless recovery" after the bush tax cuts).
posted by heathkit at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I always found it a bit of a disconnect that the Bush twins actually have had an interesting and somewhat worthwhile careers, teaching, UNICEF work, working with AIDS patients in Africa, Global health Corps, the Smithsonian, while Chelsea Clinton has worked for a Business Consulting form and a Hedge fund firm.

It makes perfect sense if you see them as aspiring to be like their mothers instead of their fathers.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:23 PM on September 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


Poor people wouldn't be so sad if they'd just start being happy.

I mean really, it's not that complicated people!
posted by blue_beetle at 1:23 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, it's worth noting that the reason why Walmart execs know so much about SNAP is that a lot of that good federal green goes straight to Walmart on the first of the month, as the article says. Food Stamps are explicitly a subsidy of the retail economy. The government could just as easily subsidize public cafeterias serving cheap food ala IKEA. This would likely be *more* efficient at delivering healthy calories to people who need them but for whatever reason we prefer to send that cash through Walmart.

I'm willing to bet there is also a surge in cheap big ticket items purchased in the spring when the EIC (earned income credit) comes back in people's tax returns. When I was working, since I have kids, the EIC increased my yearly net income by close to 25% in one sexy check from the IRS.

Of course, if we took all those EIC checks and built a real public transportation system, public early education/daycare, public health care, made housing affordable to people at every income... we would have a very different society from the one where people line up to buy over-priced baby formula at midnight so they can "work" at Walmart while grandma raises the kids in between soaps.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:23 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree strongly that this is sad and pathetic, and I'm all for socialized democracies that make this obsolete.

But why are these young mothers purchasing formula anyway? Breast milk is healthier, and free!

(Actually, there's a good reason for this too - it has to do with America's religion, which is profit. It's considered immoral and unpatriotic to do things where people cannot profit, so everyone promotes things like baby formula and bottled water because drinking from the nipple or the tap can't make profits for people...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:26 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really just don't understand how so many people- by that I mean millions, tens of millions of Americans- aren't outraged that cutting taxes for people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is a national priority when people are. Is it some selfish belief that in ten years they could have that much money? Is it just a "principle" thing? And if so what are their "principles" exactly?

I'll bite.

For many other people I know, the overriding principle is that it's wrong to take something from another person, regardless of need. Of course, like all principles that one isn't set in stone (if it will indisputably save someone's life, are you justified in robbing Bill Gates of $1? I'd say so) but many people feel more strongly about it than the average mefite.

Second, there are valid concerns that tax dollars simply will not be used in any beneficial way. I'm not sure that the net effect of a potential spending/tax increase is positive. Is the money going to be spent on food stamps? Or is it going towards the Pentagon or DEA's budget?

(all that said, I really don't want to argue about these beliefs - just wanted to answer that question)
posted by ripley_ at 1:27 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I should add that monthly gushes of money lead to poor spending strategies for people. I once worked for a company where we were paid by the month and people started to get really antsy around the end of the previous month...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:28 PM on September 22, 2010


Imagine if the tax breaks went away...the rich would pull their money out of...wait...it is already in offshore banks. I guess they'd probably take their manufacturing jobs and...no...those are already gone. What are they going to do? Pout? The US has infrastructure, potable water, fairly stable politics. Really, the US is a capitalists dream (especially because any politician can be bought). The "they" here are the super rich. They aren't going anywhere. Call their bluff. Walk away from America. Please do it. We can make it without you. Look at this chart and tell me that the rich won't be just fine. Seems like they have survived the 1950's just fine.

What never gets talked about is that SNAP benefits keep small town economies alive. If the grocery store closes in Mobridge, South Dakota closes shop where will people shop? 100 miles away in Pierre, South Dakota. It is important to note that SNAP dollars can be a sustaining force in stores staying open.
posted by zerobyproxy at 1:29 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know baby formula is just one example, but it got me thinking - is there a solvable issue with breastfeeding in poor communities? That might be a way to save some money, I'd think - investing in training, equipment, and other support mechanisms might help reduce the need for (very expensive) alternative ways of feeding infants.

Yes and no. Better trained public health workers would help, as would a really, really good public education campaign. But part of the issue is simple logistics.

Lets say you're the mother of an infant. You hold a minimum wage job, maybe even work under the table cleaning houses or whatnot. You have to go back to work when your baby is 6 or 8 weeks old. You want to breastfeed, either for health reasons or just because its cheaper, but in order to do that you have to buy a breast pump (at least $100, likely more) and storage supplies, plus your employer needs to give you 20-25 minutes off every two hours for you to pump. Oh, and a private place to pump. Also a place to store what you pump. Likely, its not going to happen, at least not for long, because your employer doesn't want to support the time away from work or you have to go into the bathroom to pump or you simply can't afford a pump.

So you switch to formula, which is more expensive, but which is a lot easier.

Working and pumping is a nightmare almost everywhere. I worked for a social justice nonprofit when my son was an infant, and even I took a little flack for the time it took me away from my desk and I had to go pump in the storage closet. If I'd worked at McDonald's or Wal-Mart I think its likely I couldn't have done it at all.

Is this a solvable issue? Sure: Federally-paid year-long maternity leave for all.
posted by anastasiav at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2010 [61 favorites]


We might not be so bad off if Wal-Mart didn't pay the bare minimum wage, lock people into part time hours to avoid paying benefits and they weren't actively fighting unionization every single inch of the way - all while exporting the vast majority of their production and manufacturing to China, or pushing domestic suppliers so hard they go bankrupt trying to meet Wal-Mart's demands.

Wal-Mart has had a hugely progressive impact on America by exerting downward pressure on grocery prices. Yes, even after accounting for their impact on wages.

(interestingly enough, that paper was written and researched by one of Obama's economic advisors, Jason Furman)
posted by ripley_ at 1:32 PM on September 22, 2010


I always found it a bit of a disconnect that the Bush twins actually have had an interesting and somewhat worthwhile careers, teaching, UNICEF work, working with AIDS patients in Africa, Global health Corps, the Smithsonian, while Chelsea Clinton has worked for a Business Consulting form and a Hedge fund firm.


so fucked up I can't even begin to start. The Bush twins took jobs "girls" of their wealth and background are expected to take. Chelsea took jobs she wanted to take in fields traditionally dominated by men.
posted by JPD at 1:32 PM on September 22, 2010 [24 favorites]


tax cuts for the wealthy encourage them to employ more people,

Reaganomics are STILL killing me!
posted by snsranch at 1:33 PM on September 22, 2010


There have always been accusations about welfare queens and a milder version of the belief that somehow people are living off the government. But I do not ever, ever recall it being as vicious as it has become in the last several years and wonder about the true source of this hatred, and this belief that somehow poor people are getting away with something.

Meantime, since I whined about 10 days ago about this, I am happy to report that I have a job, a real job with benefits, for the first time in more than 2 years (had a series of contract, shortterm and freelance work). I am 58, working sort of in the same business, doing the same work I did decades ago, and thrilled. Seriously thrilled to be back in the workforce.
posted by etaoin at 1:34 PM on September 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Income for a small business owner is, by definition, money they've taken out of the business to pay themselves with.

Yes and no. Many, if not most, small business owners pay themselves a salary.

If taxes on income are high, they'll be encouraged to leave their money in the business and grow it into a bigger reservoir of wealth - low capital gains and income taxes encourage business owners to pay themselves more and try to grow that cash with speculative investments.

Business owners care about income taxes in an indirect way. They pay theirs, of course, but what they pay their employees is a salary, regardless of the tax burden, and they pay what the business can afford to pay.

* However, employees under high taxes may ask for a bigger salary to offset the tax burden, and that's a problem for a business owner.

* At the same time, if more money is being taken out of your customers' pockets in taxes, that's less money they'll spend on the products your business makes.

So, low taxes = low salaries, and low taxes = more sales.

Needless to say, high sales and low salaries is where you want to be.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:34 PM on September 22, 2010


The solution is to crush the Right using any means necessary. I have said it before, they won't respect anything but a boot in the face, and oddly, they will respect that.

The Left needs to grow a pair, and now.


No. Everyone needs to grow a brain and stop with this partisan bullshit. Who are you calling right wing while you call for a boot in the face? Fox News is not conservatism. Talk radio isn't conservatism. But if you continue playing into this game of Right versus Left, all you do is give them more credibility.

Those sort of outlets are purposefully irrational because they have a specific political agenda and they depend on sensationalism for ratings. Trying to engage in rational debates with those specific organizations is just wasting your time. Even so, engaging with someone who listens to them is a completely different scenario, but they sure as shit won't be swayed by militant Leftist propaganda.

If it seems to people on opposite sides of the spectrum like you are just another one of "them" then you're not going to get through to anyone. You have to decide whether it's more important to you that they hear your idea, or that they hear about some unrelated proof that "their" guy was the real asshole. Then it devolves into a pointless historical ad-hominem that gets exactly nowhere.

That's not to say that the Left or the Right should be ashamed about their ideals, or ever back down from what they think is important. Between your ideals and reality, though, is where we need to get to. I care more about getting people fed than I do about fixing capitalism. And I bet they care more about getting people fed than cutting out a tiny minority who are gaming the system. But the moment you attack one or the other as "the" problem, you're just playing into the two party system that makes compromise such a mess. Maybe the compromise is something as simple as, "Let's raise our standards for food stamps after the economy is back on track. Let's re-examine the Bush Tax brackets after we get the deficit lower than X percent of GDP."

When that possible conversation is drowned out by hardliners, everyone loses, and some people lose things that can't be given back. Is it really too late to step back, tone down the rhetoric, and try to arrive at some solutions?
posted by notion at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


Oh, and I should note that businesses also pay the Social Security taxes on their employees. This is usually figured as part of their salary (along with health care and such). Somewhere on the ledger, there's a number that represents the total financial burden the employee represents on the company.

Again, low taxes = a low per-employee financial burden.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2010


brandman: "I know baby formula is just one example, but it got me thinking - is there a solvable issue with breastfeeding in poor communities? That might be a way to save some money, I'd think - investing in training, equipment, and other support mechanisms might help reduce the need for (very expensive) alternative ways of feeding infants."

lupus_yonderboy: "But why are these young mothers purchasing formula anyway? Breast milk is healthier, and free!"

Because breast milk requires production also. Nursing requires about an extra 500 calories per day. If these parents are standing in line at midnight to buy food (instead of waiting until the next day), they probably are not getting that extra calorie intake, and are probably calorie deficient, and probably not producing any milk. Sure, the better alternative is to feed the parents, who can then feed the babies, but the point is the same, these families are starving.
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Is it some selfish belief that in ten years they could have that much money?

But of course. For all the talk of the American Dream here, no one has yet pointed at its birth: in his 1931 book Epic of America, James Truslow Adams coined the phrase in this passage:

The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, also too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.

I have a theory about Americans (as a damn furriner) that they mostly believe they will someday be rich but will never be seriously ill. This is why they pressure their legislators to cut taxes for millionaires ("which I will someday be") while getting rid of publicly-funded health care ("because if I ever get sick, I will pay for the finest doctors with my millions").

I have a second theory that Adams is not a household name because of his infelicitous phrase "with opportunity for each according to ability" which sounds just a leetle bit too much like "from each according to his ability" for comfort. Can't be too careful.

Admittedly, neither of these theories may stand up to close scutiny, as I invented both of them in the last four minutes, so there ya go.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:41 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


so fucked up I can't even begin to start. The Bush twins took jobs "girls" of their wealth and background are expected to take. Chelsea took jobs she wanted to take in fields traditionally dominated by men.

Two people can look at the same facts and see whatever they want. Viva politics!
posted by smackfu at 1:42 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


But why are these young mothers purchasing formula anyway? Breast milk is healthier, and free!

My lactivist friends point out that programs like WIC have been known to accept samples from formula companies to distribute. For a long time, WIC in my area (I don't know what level it's regulated at) would pay for formula but not for extra calories for a breastfeeding mom. Poor women who try to breastfeed are significantly less likely than better off women to have the privacy and the flexibility at jobs to pump milk, or a place to store it safely. Etc.

Now WIC in my area runs TV ads promoting nursing, and does provide an additional subsidy for breastfeeding moms. It's progress even since my first child was born 9 years ago.
posted by not that girl at 1:43 PM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I expected this story to be about Wal-Mart jacking up the prices on formula and baby supplies as the clock struck midnight. I would not be surprised if many "specials" were timed to expire on the day prior.
posted by benzenedream at 1:44 PM on September 22, 2010


When you're poor, all you think about is money, so any event that delivers you money, especially free money, takes on huge proportions, and you find yourself obsessing about the moment when the money drops, and what you're going to do with it, and you don't have a whole lot to do anyway, 'cause you're poor, so you anticipating and ransacking the future in your mind, so you go to Wal-Mart early just to get close to the money vibes early, to extend the pleasure forward, and get ready for that incredible moment, that whole minute or so when you've got the money and there's a whole store full of stuff you can buy all around you and you could concievably buy anything you wanted in the whole place -- anything -- TVs, game boxes, sneakers ... but of course, you buy the formula.
posted by Faze at 1:44 PM on September 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


But why are these young mothers purchasing formula anyway? Breast milk is healthier, and free!

Sure, if tit and baby are in the same place and mom's sufficiently well-nourished to be making enough milk. If mom eats badly - as the lower income bracket often does - or is at work (most likely somewhere that won't let her take breaks to pump) or possibly school then formula is a must.

It's bullshit that people are gathered at midnight on Check Day to buy it. If there's one thing that the government should be able to provide, it's baby formula. Free formula to everyone who needs it. Take two drops out of the bucket of defense spending and give a generous supply of formula to every month to every child that needs it.

I've always thought that we should have a food staples subsidization program. License businesses to bake bread, can peanut butter, etc whatever, and mandate its sale at the specified low subsidized price.

The glibertarians can have the exact same access to it as the poor if they want to eat the cheap no-nonsense bread - just like they're free to send their kids to public school. Ditto the cheapskates like me. And the poor can have access to the minimum healthy needs to keep body & soul together. Simplifies the problems with food stamps and eligibility and the black market.

If Jif doesn't like it they can bid on the contract to make the stuff like everyone else - they just package it in the plain white boring ass packaging and make their money on the (competitively sourced) contract. It's not like most food sold isn't 98% marketing and 2% actual content anyway. My understanding is that many name brand sellers also produce generic re-branded stuff for groceries anyway, so this would be little divergence.
posted by phearlez at 1:48 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


My only source of income is occasional 10 per article written with the pennies-worth click-through bonu in freelancing. Nothing around here is hiring. I am pulling a 16 credit hour course load attemtping to get my degree so that I can have a better opportunity after my unemployment ran out last year, before my divorce.

SO basically, aside from my refund on any financial aid, I have no income. If it were for the generosity of my friend and his wife, I would be homeless.

I[ve gotten good at subsisting on litte or stretching every dollar where Ican.

Full time students, even independant ones, actually from what I was told, any student at all is ineligible for food stamps.

I'msick of ramen. I've sick of being tired and hungry so often. I'm sick of having to mooch food off of friends.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


Wal-Mart has had a hugely progressive impact on America by exerting downward pressure on grocery prices. Yes, even after accounting for their impact on wages.

It's just missing their impact on

1) moving millions of manufacturing jobs to China
2) putting tens of thousands of small corporations out of business
3) reducing health care benefits
4) purposefully using welfare subsidies as a tool to allow them to underpay part time workers

There's more to life than the cost of milk versus the minimum wage. Much, much more. I always try to go to Publix when I can. They take care of their employees as well as their customers, and offer programs like tuition reimbursement and stock options. They've had a few bumps in the road, but compared to Wal-Mart they are saints.
posted by notion at 1:51 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree with Faze. There, I said it. I think this phenomenon is largely a social one, not one where most of these folks are literally down to their last cracker at 11:59 p.m.

With obesity rates among the poor, I highly doubt that any lower levels of breastfeeding (if that exists ... remember, we're essentially looking at a single anecdote and loosely extrapolating from there) has anything to do with a caloric deficit. Maybe a nutritional deficit. But I suspect (and have zero facts), this, too, is a social phenomenon.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:51 PM on September 22, 2010


I really just don't understand how so many people- by that I mean millions, tens of millions of Americans- aren't outraged that cutting taxes for people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is a national priority when people are.

Not that I subscribe to this viewpoint, but it isn't so difficult to understand. The rich make their money and Americans think that by and large what people make they've made fairly and deserve to keep, i.e. it's *theirs*. Government is a necessary evil and taxes, which fund government, are an intrusion into this freedom, to be tolerated only because "men are not angels." I mean, these moral sentiments go straight back to the some of the founding fathers. Americans have always been into individualism and independence.

So many people feel cutting taxes for the rich is a priority because taxes fundamentally are a violent and at best barely-justified intrusion into morally important property rights.

Plus, the inevitable waste and corruption in government programs does not encourage faith in the government as an institution of justice and fairness. It's not hard to see why people would be intensely skeptical.

Finally, liberal philosophy really screwed up by supporting communism in the 20th century, and it's still paying the wages of that sin. It burned its credibility and sunk the ashes to the bottom of a deep deep sea. It's going to take a while to rebuild.
posted by shivohum at 1:53 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


or is at work (most likely somewhere that won't let her take breaks to pump) or possibly school then formula is a must.

Now that, I think, is an even better hypothesis...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:53 PM on September 22, 2010


Today's rich no longer want to provide the poor even with bootstraps

Well, if the poor were really go-getters, they'd wait until some other guy starved to death, then utilize their tendons to make their own boot-straps. Now that's ingenuity.

With obesity rates among the poor,

The cheapest food is the starchiest.
posted by philip-random at 1:54 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's just missing their impact on

1) moving millions of manufacturing jobs to China


So? American workers aren't any more deserving of a job than their Chinese equivalents.

2) putting tens of thousands of small corporations out of business

Citation, please. Also, if they did run those corporations out of business, they did so by offering products at a lower price to (mostly) working class people. Sounds like beneficial competition to me.

3) reducing health care benefits
4) purposefully using welfare subsidies as a tool to allow them to underpay part time workers


Again, the paper accounted for wages.
posted by ripley_ at 1:57 PM on September 22, 2010


ennui.bz: "also, it's worth noting that the reason why Walmart execs know so much about SNAP is that a lot of that good federal green goes straight to Walmart on the first of the month, as the article says. Food Stamps are explicitly a subsidy of the retail economy. The government could just as easily subsidize public cafeterias serving cheap food ala IKEA. This would likely be *more* efficient at delivering healthy calories to people who need them but for whatever reason we prefer to send that cash through Walmart. "

See, in theory true, but what happens is this

1. Good government program that benefits the general good is created at cost X
2. Pork project that benefits locality Y is also created at cost x
3. The Pork project was agreed upon to placate "AntiGovernmetn Party Memeber G"
4. The Party of "Good Government Project" is voted out for some perceived slight.
5. The "Antigovernment Party" comes to power a defunds (but doesn't cancel the "good government project" the "good project" becomes a typical "bad project" and is used as an examply why "Good projects" are really bad ones.
6. The Pork Project continues to receive funding, the private firm that receives it is held up as an example of the private world being awesomer than Jesus.
7. People (being stupid and missing point 5) think that "Awesomer than Jesus" is better than "Government Cheese" and roll over and ask for another one.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat until it all crashes down and a new deal is formed.
posted by NiteMayr at 1:57 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


WIC now both provides extra coupons to nursing mothers + breast pump subsidies, thank god. (At least in my state.) However, workplace hostility towards lactation is appalling, and when women have to go back to work when their infants are so young that breastfeeding isn't even established yet, it's a situation that's basically guaranteed to fail.
posted by KathrynT at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


But why are these young mothers purchasing formula anyway? Breast milk is healthier, and free!

My fiance wasn't breast fed by her mother because of a superstition that stress is passed to the baby through breast-milk. Nestle must have had a campaign long ago to influence Latin women into believe such nonsense as I've heard it from other friends of Hispanic descent.
posted by wcfields at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2010


Food Stamps are explicitly a subsidy of the retail economy. The government could just as easily subsidize public cafeterias serving cheap food ala IKEA. This would likely be *more* efficient at delivering healthy calories to people who need them but for whatever reason we prefer to send that cash through Walmart.

Think of food stamps as an extremely competitive bidding process for provision of food to the poor. Every recipient can choose from multiple establishments based on whichever works best for them - the closest location, the cheapest, the most likely to have their favourite ingredients, whatever.

Do you really think that government-subsidized cafeterias would be nearly as efficient? If I'm a new immigrant, are they going to have food that I'm familiar with? Will they sell ingredients for the regional dishes I know how to cook? Will they be closer to my house than the corner store? Will their supply chains be able to compete with the notoriously stingy private sector?
posted by ripley_ at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wal-Mart has had a hugely progressive impact on America by exerting downward pressure on grocery prices. Yes, even after accounting for their impact on wages.
Something to keep in mind: that downward pressure has been borne by increasing automation of the grocery supply chain and an emphasis on software tools to replace human employees.

Walmart doesn't cut prices to lure in customers, they cut prices to damage their competitors -- stores that rely more on human beings than software.

WalMart's (spotty) low prices are also calculated to avoid impacting the bottom line: they find products that specific tranches of consumers are "price-reactive" to, then undercut their competitors on those products. Simultaneously, they bump or leave prices steady on products that they know, statistically speaking, will be purchased alongside the price-reactive products. Then, they demand that their suppliers cut them better deals on the price-reactive products they dropped prices on.

This isn't my speculation based on reading Mother Jones articles, either -- this is based on spending half a decade watching grocery industry execs deliver powerpoint decks on how critical it was for everyone to perfect this cycle just as Walmart had, lest they be eaten alive trying to stay price-competitive.
posted by verb at 2:23 PM on September 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


so fucked up I can't even begin to start. The Bush twins took jobs "girls" of their wealth and background are expected to take.

Really? We're shitting on UNICEF now?

back to the subject at hand....

What's more distressing to me is how much in denial this country is as to it's dependence on a permanent and largely unescapable underclass.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


of course that's how it works - but the important question is does the consumer end up paying less for their entire basket of goods - and the answer has historically been yes. Why does the consumer care if ConAgra is getting killed on price?
posted by JPD at 2:31 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really? We're shitting on UNICEF now?

no we're shitting on the sort of instiutional sexism at play in the original admiration of the Bush girls career choices.
posted by JPD at 2:32 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


> For many other people I know, the overriding principle is that it's wrong to take something from another person, regardless of need.

I don't think even one person believes that.

What about kids? Oh, you have asterisk in there for kids, do you?

What about old people?

What about cripples? The mentally retarded?

Lots of asterisks there!

Now, let's take some regular guy who's done everything right during his life, a 50-something auto worker - and his company lays him off and his wife gets sick. Should he take charity to feed his kids?

The ultra-rich have gone out of their way to make sure that the poor have no chance of getting a fair shake out of any deal. It's considered morally wrong to leave even a penny on the table, so your average guy is getting screwed on every transaction which doesn't involve buying consumer goods.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:32 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


of course that's how it works - but the important question is does the consumer end up paying less for their entire basket of goods - and the answer has historically been yes.
I'd like to see some cites on that, because their business model at present is built on the answer being "No." On specific key products, their prices are indeed lower for specific calendar cycles. That has no bearing on the cost of their
Why does the consumer care if ConAgra is getting killed on price?
The same reason we should care about oil supplies when gas is cheap. Is it that hard to work this out?
posted by verb at 2:37 PM on September 22, 2010


I don't think even one person believes that.

I like that you completely ignored the sentence I wrote immediately after the one you quoted. I explicitly stated that the principle has exceptions, just like any other (Think that murder is wrong? What if it saves another person? What if it saves thousands of other people?).
posted by ripley_ at 2:38 PM on September 22, 2010


Oftentimes, MetaFilter is accused of being vicious to conservatives, and that no conservatives would dare come into a thread like this one and comment with their reasons supporting these laws and programs (and the plans for the future of these laws and programs), because the liberals would attack from all sides in the most vile manner possible. The tenor in here is already such that, if I were a conservative, I wouldn't bother to speak up. And it's too bad, because I am honestly interested in hearing about this from the other side of things--because I don't understand.

I'm not being snide, I'm not enjoying the "well, it's obvious, they hate black people and poor people and anybody who thinks we should share;" while that is likely true for some people, I seriously doubt it's true for most people who are against making changes for what I would consider the betterment of everyone. So, they have to have other reasons, but I'm not coming up with them. I'm sure it's because I'm not good at Opposition Prep (never have been), but I just don't believe the answer is "because those people are evil and want babies to die."
posted by tzikeh at 2:38 PM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Meh. "That has no bearing on the cost of the average cart-full of product."
posted by verb at 2:40 PM on September 22, 2010


The federal government did have a commodities program in the 80s and 90s that most famously included cheese, and also peanut butter (in one-gallon cans), big bags of rice, and beans. I don't think bread ever made the list, because it doesn't shelve well and you could get it at the thrift store at the time for a quarter.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:42 PM on September 22, 2010


I sometimes wonder: if the government provided the basic needs (food, shelter, health care) to the citizens of the country, would they accept lower-wage jobs knowing the money wasn't as necessary, or would they demand higher-wage jobs because they no longer needed the jobs to get by, or would fewer people enter the workforce because they were content to live with the basics, and so fewer applicants for all jobs leads to higher wages for those employees? And if so, would those higher wages be offset significantly by the lower per-employee health care costs and such?

I suppose at the end of the day, you make a choice: take care of all citizens so that everyone has a basic standard of living at minimum, at the expense of reducing the standard of living for the high performers, or let the high performers work to maximize their living standard at the expense of the low performers who need low-paying, no-health-insurance, non-union jobs to afford the basic standard of living they need.

Looking around, I guess that choice has already been made 'round these parts.
posted by davejay at 2:43 PM on September 22, 2010


One of these days, I'd really like to take a road trip, just so I can piss on Reagan's grave.
posted by stenseng at 2:44 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The same reason we should care about oil supplies when gas is cheap. Is it that hard to work this out?


Uhm yeah, because consumer product companies returns on capital are much much greater then their required rate of return. WMT is not dragging down profitability to the point where it is no longer rational to reinvest in making branded ketchup.
posted by JPD at 2:48 PM on September 22, 2010


Uhm yeah, because consumer product companies returns on capital are much much greater then their required rate of return. WMT is not dragging down profitability to the point where it is no longer rational to reinvest in making branded ketchup.
Ahem.
posted by verb at 2:52 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know baby formula is just one example, but it got me thinking - is there a solvable issue with breastfeeding in poor communities? That might be a way to save some money, I'd think - investing in training, equipment, and other support mechanisms might help reduce the need for (very expensive) alternative ways of feeding infants.

Whether it's solvable remains to be seen; as anastasiav noted above, there are hurdles.

However, some (all?) WIC programs absolutely do offer incentives to breastfeed, including practical support and peer counseling programs as well as additional nutrition for nursing mothers.
posted by padraigin at 2:54 PM on September 22, 2010


Breastfeeding's a cultural issue more than a function of being poor or living in public housing etc. Has more to do with what is perceived in your community as being a good mother as well as being a sexual woman. (Teen mothers of almost every race think breastfeeding's "gross".)

Extra calories aren't a problem for people getting food stamps/public assistance as those are the communities where obesity is a problem. Even empty calories will assist in the production of breastmilk.

And sad but true--plenty of people have money for cigarettes, but not for formula.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:55 PM on September 22, 2010


Verb for your first point looking for stats on WMT and grocery prices - here is an NBER (PDF warning) paper that supports my argument.
posted by JPD at 2:55 PM on September 22, 2010


On a side note - waiting around Wal-Mart for your foodstamps or welfare benefits to kick in at midnight sounds insanely depressing. I've been there - not at a Wal-Mart - but I've been there. What really sucks is when they don't drop when they're supposed to or there's an error or other delay. Think about it. You're broke. You're hungry. Maybe you have hungry, noisy kids with you up way past their bedtime. You just spent an hour carefully shopping for the best balance of the cheapest, most decent food you can find. You're trying to do math and compare notes in your head and make important choices while hungry and shaky and then you go to check out and... "Wha... what do you mean my card is declined?"

I've been there, minus the kids. It's embarrassing enough for it to get declined, let alone when you look emaciated and shaky. Fucking sucks.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:59 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: ""The tenor in here is already such that, if I were a conservative, I wouldn't bother to speak up. And it's too bad, because I am honestly interested in hearing about this from the other side of things--because I don't understand."

I wish my brother and sister had your attitude. I think my liberal leanings stem from growing up in a situation where the only safety net was the government. And my brother and sister were right there with me, starving at times and grateful for the food we were able to get with our monthly food stamps. Now that we are all grown up, I see their Facebook updates and it's just so unfathomably ugly, the things they say because I know they have no sense of their own history. They're of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps-you're just lazy" ilk and it makes me nuts because the problem is much more complex.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:05 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Vlasic is owned by fucking Blackstone. If that sob story were true they would have shut that thing down a long time ago. Don't believe everything you read in Fast Company. ConAgra which has a really shitty portfolio of brands, Sara Lee, 'nother pile of crap brands, and Dean Foods who sell branded milk - 5 year return on average tangible capital (tangible because goodwill doesn't matter for the sake of considering reinvesting in a business) - 15.7%, 16.3%, 20%. These are all very highly profitable businesses. Hell even Cal-Maine - a big egg producer generates returns in the high teens. WMT is not killing these guys.
posted by JPD at 3:07 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


ETA - I picked those bizzes because they were the shittiest listed branded consumer companies I could think of off the top of my head.
posted by JPD at 3:10 PM on September 22, 2010


There are people in their 50's who will never work again. Ever. Because no one wants to hire "old people."

That might have nothing to do with them being 'old' and more to due with the laws protecting the 'old'.

Age discrimination laws WRT the "old" - or so I've been told.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:16 PM on September 22, 2010


that whole minute or so when you've got the money and there's a whole store full of stuff you can buy all around you and you could concievably buy anything you wanted in the whole place -- anything -- TVs, game boxes, sneakers ... but of course, you buy the formula.

Because baby formula will feed a hungry, crying baby, where a TV will not. And baby formula is one of the eligible foods you can buy with SNAP benefits, where sneakers are not "foods for the household to eat."

I've never had to be on SNAP or other welfare system, but I strongly doubt you could go on a shopping spree in Walmart.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:26 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The USDA still has commodities programs. The one I'm familiar with is TEFAP. In my area, one of the churches acts as the main distribution point, but will work with other non-profit groups in the area to spread everything out as much as possible. One of my friends is now volunteering and taking care of the program in our local community center. When she took it over, the program had been canceled because of a lack of consistency. Food hadn't been getting distributed. Now, 3 months later, they're providing food to over 30 families every month and expanding. With the addition of a donated fridge and chest freezer, they're now able to supply cheese and ground beef.

The person receiving the food has to fill out a simple form showing that their income is below the cutoff. It's MUCH simpler than applying for food stamps. When I was receiving food stamps, I also received commodities. There wasn't a lot variety (PDF), but every little bit helped, and it was all things that were easy to store in the pantry for the lean times.

The first time I received commodities, there was indeed a large package of government cheese, a block pre-sliced into singles. It was made in Wisconsin and was actual cheese, rather than some cheese-product. I was pleasantly surprised.
posted by lilywing13 at 3:33 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Vlasic is owned by fucking Blackstone. If that sob story were true they would have shut that thing down a long time ago.
My claim was was that the primary costs of WalMart's pricing strategies are passed directly to their suppliers, rather than mapping directly to their own employees' salaries as earlier posts suggested. In a number of cases, the suppliers have been forced to supply product effectively below cost. In many other cases, suppliers have manufactured lower-quality product specifically for the WalMart supply chain. In those situations, the costs are being borne by quality reductions in the product. This means that consumers aren't "getting a better deal," rather they are paying less for something that is worth less. That's a tradeoff that lower income buyers must make, but it doesn't mean that WalMart has magically made Thing X cheaper.
Don't believe everything you read in Fast Company.... WMT is not killing these guys.
My suggestion was not, in fact, that we should "feel sorry for ConAgra" as you seem to indicate, simply to note that the costs are being borne elsewhere. Nor am I basing my opinions on FastCompany, any more than you are basing yours in a quick Google search for ConAgra.

My experience in the retail grocery industry is very specific -- I worked for about half a decade in the grocery industry writing software to manage pricing, promotion, and cost, and worked alongside former and current distributors. We can certainly disagree on how to interperet the data that's out there, but I believe my point stands: assessing the impact of WalMart's pricing and supply model society-wide is not as simple as comparing prices-paid-for-products to wages-paid-by-WalMart.
posted by verb at 3:35 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


When you're poor, all you think about is money...

Yeah... Not. When I was poor with kids to feed (I'm still poor, but kids are grown) I hardly obsessed about money, and I sure as hell didn't go to Wally World ransacking my mind about what I would buy with my *free* money. Hell no. I worked two full time, minimum wage jobs, and still qualified for food stamps because the cost of living in my state was so high. As a single mom with a night off, I was at Wally World with one thought in mind - how much food can I get for the amount of money that I have on this little card, and can I make it last for x amount of time?
posted by patheral at 3:51 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Senate Republicans are demanding that tax cuts for the wealthy -- costing around $700 billion over the next ten years -- be retained, regardless of the impact on government finances. But money directly targeted at saving public sector jobs and paying for Medicaid must be offset by cuts to the welfare net for the poorest Americans. No baby formula for you ma'am, but we're happy to subsidize your new BMW, mister hedge fund manager

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:00 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]



There are people in their 50's who will never work again. Ever. Because no one wants to hire "old people."
That might have nothing to do with them being 'old' and more to due with the laws protecting the 'old'.
Age discrimination laws WRT the "old" - or so I've been told.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:16 PM on September 22 [+] [!]


What is "WRT"? The age discrimination laws don't stop people from getting hired--on the contrary, they make, or should make, it easier to file a complaint if you're not hired because of age. That's why the bubbleheaded 22-year-olds who are oh too busy to respond to emailed resumes that they've asked for are coached not to ever say "young" when that's what they are dying to say. And then put up online applications that require you to list your high school graduation year. Think I'm kidding? New York University does it, among many others.
posted by etaoin at 4:43 PM on September 22, 2010


verb I think the only thing we disagree about is the impact of reducing returns for other grocers and consumer goods companies. I would also marginally disagree about the quality issue in that a lot of that is pretty transparent (eg - WMT carrying only one branded products and then forcing everyone else to private label). I'm not sure if you do or do not believe WMT has led to a reduction in cost to the consumer in aggregate. I suspect they have but I don't feel as strongly about it as I do about the net impact of WMT acting as a monopsynist.
posted by JPD at 5:08 PM on September 22, 2010


Before I go back up and read all the comments, I just want to say:

Yes, I go to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night. Frequently in fact. And I'll tell you why: It's a place to walk around and look at things, maybe pick up a snack, with a friend or two without going to a bar (which in Georgia means someplace with loud country music playing and I'd very much like to avoid that thanks -- also I don't drink). It's just something to do. It's like, nowhere else is open at 1 in the morning it's Wal-Mart, all-night diners or bars. We go to W-M and diners with about equal frequency. I hate bars though.

It's almost enough to make me want to start up an all-night board games place. I could find people willing to play Agricola in a non-alcoholic setting at 2am, right?
posted by JHarris at 5:11 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oftentimes, MetaFilter is accused of being vicious to conservatives, and that no conservatives would dare come into a thread like this one and comment with their reasons supporting these laws and programs (and the plans for the future of these laws and programs), because the liberals would attack from all sides in the most vile manner possible. The tenor in here is already such that, if I were a conservative, I wouldn't bother to speak up.

People say things for a reason. It's possible that the people here who might be "vicious to conservatives" have absolutely had it with living in a nation that's supposedly the most advanced in the world, but where rich people get richer nigh unto infinity while many many people go hungry.

If conservatives have a good reason why the world is like this and how it could be changed, then they should stand the hell up and tell us about it. If it makes sense and is reasonable, not a bucket of lies but well-substantiated, absolutely people here would change their minds. But most of the times I've seen that happen on Metafilter, others take what they've said, look into it, and find it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

When that happens enough times, you start to draw early conclusions when you see it start to happen again. You start to think, hey, maybe all these liberals are right after all.
posted by JHarris at 5:21 PM on September 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


Counter to your proposals, I believe all babies should be fed even if they have poor parents....

STOP BEING SO VICIOUS TO ME!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:34 PM on September 22, 2010


I voted for Obama, but I'm just baffled by him. I mean, wasn't fixing stuff like this the whole point of the election?

He's the head of one branch of government, and the other side considers him to be some kind of demon and are trying everything, EVERYTHING in their power to obstruct him, meaning to get anything meaningful to pass through the Senate requires 60 votes.

If the Republicans have the presidency and congress in two years and the Democrats played the same game, what do you think the odds would be that every Republican pundit would be on the air every hour decrying obstructionism?
posted by JHarris at 5:37 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Now, let's take some regular guy who's done everything right during his life, a 50-something auto worker - and his company
> lays him off and his wife gets sick. Should he take charity to feed his kids?

Won't his kids be 25-something?
posted by jfuller at 5:37 PM on September 22, 2010


Through lowering the cost of the packet of goods required to support a worker, Wal-Mart is in fact lowering the socially required cost of labor in the market. Arguments based on the idea that wal-mart, through providing the necessary goods required to support a laborer cheaper, is doing your average worker a favor willfully ignores the fact that employers will become uncompetitive if they don't notice that laborers are now cheaper to support and respond to this by cutting wages.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:40 PM on September 22, 2010


I know baby formula is just one example, but it got me thinking - is there a solvable issue with breastfeeding in poor communities? That might be a way to save some money, I'd think - investing in training, equipment, and other support mechanisms might help reduce the need for (very expensive) alternative ways of feeding infants.

Breast feeding seems to be another advantage denied to the working urban poor. The logistics of being a single parent, underpaid, often with two part time jobs make breast feeding difficult. Breast pumps need to be cleaned and sterilized, milk needs to be cooled and kept cold, the child caretaker needs to be trained, all this making the already stressed life of a young single mother more stressful.
posted by francesca too at 5:44 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a number of cases, the suppliers have been forced to supply product effectively below cost. In many other cases, suppliers have manufactured lower-quality product specifically for the WalMart supply chain.

The Frontline episode Is Wal-Mart Good for America confirms a lot of this adversarial behavior with their manufacturers. They demand automatic annual price reductions: every year you're supposed to be improving your processes, streamlining your operations, reducing cost-per-unit. And sometimes manufacturers can't keep up with the orders so they wind up paying someone else to do the excess work (at a loss) just to keep the contract. It's nuts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:54 PM on September 22, 2010


"that whole minute or so when you've got the money and there's a whole store full of stuff you can buy all around you and you could concievably buy anything you wanted in the whole place -- anything -- TVs, game boxes, sneakers ... but of course, you buy the formula."

Because baby formula will feed a hungry, crying baby, where a TV will not. And baby formula is one of the eligible foods you can buy with SNAP benefits, where sneakers are not "foods for the household to eat."


I don't think you read that one quite right.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:06 PM on September 22, 2010


About breastfeeding:

My daughter was born in March. I was a full time student that semester. (Yeah, I knew she was coming, but I would have lost my financial aid, so I took classes anyway.) Full time student roughly equals part time working hours, in so far as time in class.

I couldn't do it. I had so much help, so much support, and I could not fucking make that pump work.

I took incompletes that semester so I could nurse my daughter (my professors were ANGELS) and finished up the following fall, going back when my daughter was six months old. I had to pump at least every three hours, and it took at least 30 minutes, and my milk production still dropped, and it was really hard.

I have nursed two children for a total of over three years, my son is still on the boob. Actually, most of the time I'm on MeFi is exactly when he's on my boob. So now you know!

There is just no way I could have done it working full time, even in a supportive office setting. My body just does not respond to a pump like a baby.

And what if you are bus driver? Or wait tables? Or pack produce? Not every mom works in a classroom or office.

Not only that, in a typical eight hour shift, you are going to need ninety minutes to pump.

If you have the option of working, say, four tens instead of five eights, and saving some money in gas and daycare, you can't take it if you're still nursing/pumping- you NEED to get home to that baby.

A lot of moms would just rather spend that extra 90 minutes a day with their baby, rather than pumping. And I understand that completely.

Many nursing babies with working moms will night cycle. So if you are worn out from working full time, caring for an infant, and pumping, ah, no worries, you are going to be up all night feeding the kid, too!

I'm not trying to be a downer, I just know very, very few moms who could make nursing jibe with working outside the home. I sure as hell couldn't. I was lucky enough to have options. Many moms don't.
posted by Leta at 6:20 PM on September 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here's one thing I was wondering about - if your customers are running out of money over the course of the month - how do you respond to that? You might gradually decrease prices over the course of the month and then increase them again for the first. That way you'd be a little more able to continue to sell things to people who need them. But as far as they're concerned, you wouldn't be giving them a break on the 25th - you'd be gouging them on the 1st.
As it turns out, the answer is packaging -

"The paycheck cycle we've talked about before remains extreme. It is our responsibility to figure out how to sell in that environment, adjusting pack sizes, large pack at sizes the beginning of the month, small pack sizes at the end of the month. "
posted by ersatzjef at 7:03 PM on September 22, 2010


blue_beetle: "Poor people wouldn't be so sad if they'd just start being happy.
"

This would be really, really funny if it weren't the actual ideology underlying almost all megachurches and several best-selling books.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:21 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


so fucked up I can't even begin to start. The Bush twins took jobs "girls" of their wealth and background are expected to take. Chelsea took jobs she wanted to take in fields traditionally dominated by men.

Not to mention the fact that Chelsea was a constant presence in humanitarian and other progressive efforts with her mother while her father was president while the Bush girls were mostly getting trashed and making fools of themselves.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:49 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> He's the head of one branch of government, and the other side considers him to be some kind of demon and are trying everything, EVERYTHING in their power to obstruct him, meaning to get anything meaningful to pass through the Senate requires 60 votes.

That argument would wash if he even pretended that he was interested in delivering for us. But he isn't doing that - quite the reverse.

Remember that week last year when Mr. Obama got the auto companies to halve their pensions - in the same week he spoke out against salary caps for Wall Street?

Remember this year when Mr. Obama proposed a spending freeze on everything except the military?

Remember this year and last year when Mr. Obama has been death-from-above to whistleblowers? Speaking of death-from-above, what about all the murders-by-machines from Mr. Obama's beloved drone attacks?

What about restoring our Constitutional rights? Why won't he even speak out about those? Why has his Administration argued repeatedly against them in court? Why has his Administration used exactly the same arguments to justify lawlessness in Bagram that Bush used on Guantàmao?

This is the same man who gave away more drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico than any other administration - even though it was completely clear that MMS was disfunctional, so clear that it was one of his campaign promises.

Remember two weeks ago when he again renewed the state of emergency that's been in place for nine years?

None of the things I've mentioned here, not one, had anything to do with Congress or the Senate. And that's a bullshit argument anyway, as he had both of those at the start of his term and simply pissed them away.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:53 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree with most of the sentiment in this thread and would like to add that there is a thriving black market for baby formula and it is one of the more desirable things to shoplift as it is small and easy to turn into cash.

All of these people are in need, but I wonder what portion is exchanging it for cash.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:24 PM on September 22, 2010


If you can't afford formula, why aren't you breastfeeding? It's so easy. No, it is not. I was working full time, I breastfed all three of my children, and it's not that easy. So, unless you have done it, STFU. Even mothers who really want to, sometimes simply cannot physically make it work. Just whip out your boob. It's not that simple.
posted by wv kay in ga at 9:46 PM on September 22, 2010


Only one other reason to shop at midnight. Waiting for your 21st birthday to buy beer.

A friend of mine tried to buy beer at midnight on her 21st birthday (at a bar in Cambridge, MA - or maybe Boston?) and was turned away. Apparently it's illegal to buy alcohol on your 21st birthday until the place has closed for the night and opened again in the morning. (This being Massachusetts, alcohol is not for sale 24 hours a day. I think.)
posted by madcaptenor at 9:50 PM on September 22, 2010


I actually saw that happen once. I was visiting my dad in Texas and I felt like running out and getting a snack. The lines were INSANE and I had no idea why.
posted by delmoi at 11:52 PM on September 22, 2010


Just wanted to say thanks for the favorites earlier. I know I was venting, and exhausted and shaky, and my typing reflected that. But dealing with unmedicated depression on top of everything else was making things harder and I guess my angst slipped out. So, the faves and notes felt like a clap on the shoulder and I'm in a point where I need as many as I can get.
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:35 AM on September 23, 2010


Don't have time to read through all the comments so pardon if this has already been addressed.

regarding hedge fund managers... I always found it a bit of a disconnect that the Bush twins actually have had an interesting and somewhat worthwhile careers, teaching, UNICEF work, working with AIDS patients in Africa, Global health Corps, the Smithsonian, while Chelsea Clinton has worked for a Business Consulting form and a Hedge fund firm.

As I recall from media snippets a few years ago the Bush twins were more like lending their names to the above while Chelsea is contracting out her intellect.
posted by notreally at 6:45 AM on September 23, 2010


that whole minute or so when you've got the money and there's a whole store full of stuff you can buy all around you and you could concievably buy anything you wanted in the whole place -- anything -- TVs, game boxes, sneakers ... but of course, you buy the formula.

SNAP benefits don't work on anything but food. You can't even buy pre-prepared food unless it's cold and not meant to be eaten in the store.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2010


As I recall from media snippets a few years ago the Bush twins were more like lending their names to the above while Chelsea is contracting out her intellect.

Since none of them ever put their names on a ballot and asked me to vote for them I don't personally care if they slaughtered hogs or turned tricks. Who gives a shit?

I despised Bush for his complete incompetence at managing the nation or either war but for all that loathing I never once begrudged his kids the right to be kids. Go have a drink and puke like a pro. Do something stupid and date the wrong person. You weren't on the ballot and you're not on the payroll. Have fun.

If we want to look at non-office behavior I think it's far more interesting to look at what the presidents themselves have done with their careers after the office. I'd wager that Carter is the best former president this country has ever had and his retirement pay is some of the best invested federal cash we spend every year.
posted by phearlez at 10:05 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


The tenor in here is already such that, if I were a conservative, I wouldn't bother to speak up. And it's too bad, because I am honestly interested in hearing about this from the other side of things--because I don't understand.

I'm not being snide, I'm not enjoying the "well, it's obvious, they hate black people and poor people and anybody who thinks we should share;" while that is likely true for some people, I seriously doubt it's true for most people who are against making changes for what I would consider the betterment of everyone. So, they have to have other reasons, but I'm not coming up with them.


tzikeh, I think I can probably answer that, as I hear from enough honest conservatives that I think I've come to follow their thought process, if not agree with it.

This comes from one such correspondent:

this is what your politics of dependence brings. You always criticize us for wanting to be self reliant. We are not selfish. Government does not give without taking. Spreading the wealth only causes dependence.

The belief is that goverment freebies = culture of dependence, where people are in fact "trained" to not value hard work and sacrifice, to expect and even demand handouts as a matter of course.

And there's a great resentment among those who do consider themselves hard workers, who have sacrifices, that they should have to subsidize such a "lifestyle."

Now - to what extent is this real, to what extent is it a figment of their imagination? I have to say one of the peope who gives me this "culture of dependence" line works in the local public assistance office. The degree of contempt he harbors for his "clients" sort of stuns me (and I've asked him on several occasions - dude, if you hate your job so much, why don't you just quit? Never gotten an answer).

But I think that contempt does lie at the bottom of the conservative attitude towards the poor. There really is a belief that hard work always, necessarily pays off; that many, perhaps most of the poor "deserve" their fate, as they weren't as industrious as they could have been or should have been.

And the belief is that the ranks of the "lazy poor" are swelling, that unemployment benefits that keep getting extended are teaching even more people that no no, you don't have to work, just get on the dole; and that if we reined in the dole, such folks would be forced to hit the pavement, find a job or three, and learn the value and necessity of hard work.

Again: Not saying I agree with this interpretation, but I think this is the interpretation. Fire away.
posted by kgasmart at 10:27 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Following up on kgasmart's point -- I know a lot of conserative's and the belief that the poor's lot at all tolerablewill ecourage people to stay poor seem to be a prevalent theme. I am curious whether this attitute exists in "socialist" Europe or whether the welfare cheat a uniquely a US fear.
posted by rtimmel at 1:14 PM on September 23, 2010


Through lowering the cost of the packet of goods required to support a worker, Wal-Mart is in fact lowering the socially required cost of labor in the market. Arguments based on the idea that wal-mart, through providing the necessary goods required to support a laborer cheaper, is doing your average worker a favor willfully ignores the fact that employers will become uncompetitive if they don't notice that laborers are now cheaper to support and respond to this by cutting wages.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:40 PM on September 22 [+] [!]


That logic only holds as long as you're willing to do all of your shopping at walmart. Also, walmart isn't going to lower anybodies housing costs, AND they avoid hiring people full time so they don't have to offer benefits.

By driving wages down to the minimum, they're essentially creating their market.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:07 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


*anybody's
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2010


I know two people who work in retail; one at Walmart, one at a retail clothing store in a shopping mall. Guess where the working conditions, management and wages are better? Walmart. Walmart certainly isn't "driving wages down to the minimum".
posted by storybored at 8:56 PM on September 23, 2010


I know two people who work in retail; one at Walmart, one at a retail clothing store in a shopping mall. Guess where the working conditions, management and wages are better? Walmart. Walmart certainly isn't "driving wages down to the minimum".

Sorry to be such a dick, but that is patently wrong. (there's a nice little chart on page 4)

Also, I can add some anecdata of my own: all the people I know who work at walmart got hired on at minimum wage, or minimum wage + 25¢, if they had prior retail experience.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:58 AM on September 24, 2010


I know two people who work in retail; one at Walmart, one at a retail clothing store in a shopping mall. Guess where the working conditions, management and wages are better? Walmart. Walmart certainly isn't "driving wages down to the minimum".

Sorry to be such a dick, but that is patently wrong. (there's a nice little chart on page 4)
I have a sneaking suspicion that this boils down to the human tendency to confuse examples with trends. There's no question that individual small businesses or mall chains have long been crap places to work, with low wages. What is unique about Walmart (once again) is its size and market-shaping power. With 1.8 million employees, it's one of the largest employers on the planet. Its insistence on keeping wages as low as possible (and fighting minimum wage changes) are understandable but absolutely push the wage trends downward.
posted by verb at 8:02 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the article, because in California, the date ones card is added to again is based on the day they apply; it is not based on the 1st or the 15th, so I'm not understanding how Wal-mart is seeing this upswing on those dates, for SNAP benefits. During the Obama administration the base benefit of $174 for a single adult, has gone up to $200 a month, and because so many people do not have access to refrigerators or stoves, homeless people are allowed to use the benefit card at participating restaurants. In the San Francisco bay area, this is mainly at Subways.
posted by Mattachine at 3:28 PM on September 24, 2010


there is a thriving black market for baby formula and it is one of the more desirable things to shoplift as it is small and easy to turn into cash.

I live in Australia, not the US, but my SO is a manager at a supermarket and for every tin of baby formula his supermarket sells, five more are stolen. The thieves then apparently put the formula into several smaller ziplock bags and sell them at the local market.

I don't know about anyone else but if I had a baby, I'd be pretty nervous about feeding it from an unmarked bag of white powder that I bought from a dodgy market stall. I'd think you'd have to be pretty desperate to be sourcing your formula that way.

Of course SO also says that back when he was a cashier he had more than one instance of people coming up with formula and cigarettes, being declined for insufficient funds, and deciding to put back the formula. It just seems very sad.
posted by lwb at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2010


jfuller: "> Now, let's take some regular guy who's done everything right during his life, a 50-something auto worker - and his company
lays him off and his wife gets sick. Should he take charity to feed his kids?

Won't his kids be 25-something?
"

Maybe. But men can be fertile longer. And also there are a lot of "older" parents. My mom had me when she was 37, so I was 13 when she turned 50. My cousin was 40 when she had her last baby.

When I worked at Wal-Mart, there was *always* a rush between 11 and midnight, every day of the month - all the people who worked 3-11s coming in after work, on their way home.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:22 PM on September 25, 2010


Sorry to be such a dick, but that is patently wrong. (there's a nice little chart on page 4)

I'm willing to consider the facts but at the bottom of that chart it says:

"Source: 2005 March Current Population Survey (hourly workers); www.walmartfacts.org"

That website cited is an unregistered domain. I'd love to look at the base statistics. From what i can gather they using some kind of national adjustment factor on Walmart's numbers and concluding that their wages are less than everyone else's. It seems to make more sense to me to measure apples against apples. Namely a Walmart in L.A. against other supermarkets in the same geographical location.
posted by storybored at 6:59 PM on September 30, 2010


Some more stats:

Median Hourly Rate by Job: WAL-MART

Retail Cashier: 8.86
Retail Sales Associate: 9.41
Dept Mgr, Retail: 11.80
Cashier: 8.35
Certified Pharm Tech: 11.51
Sales Associate: 8.79
Pharm Technician: 10.37

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=Wal-Mart_Stores,_Inc/Hourly_Rate/by_Job

Median Hourly Rate by Job: KROGER

Retail Cashier: 8.66
Stock Clerk, Grocery: 8.45
Produce Clerk, Grocery: 9.05
Cashier: 7.72
Certified Pharm Tech: 10.86
Sales Clerk/Cashier: 8.33
Pharm Technician: 8.49

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=The_Kroger_Company/Hourly_Rate/by_Job

Unfortunately i don't enough about Kroger to know whether their geographical store distribution matches that of Walmart roughly or not.
posted by storybored at 7:18 PM on September 30, 2010


« Older David Bowie Standup. That is all....  |  Europe according to... is a pr... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments