Walmart
December 20, 2004 10:59 AM   Subscribe

"With 1.4 million employees worldwide, Wal-Mart's workforce is now larger than that of GM, Ford, GE, and IBM combined. At $258 billion in 2003, Wal-Mart's annual revenues are 2 percent of US GDP, and eight times the size of Microsoft's. In fact, when ranked by its revenues, Wal-Mart is the world's largest corporation." The real cost belongs to the taxpayer, as this report (PDF or HTML through Google), by the Democratic Staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, makes clear. A "total annual welfare bill of $2.5 billion for Wal-Mart's 1.2 million US employees."
posted by OmieWise (177 comments total)
 
Right - cause the welfare system (and those employees) would be much better off if WalMart wasn't paying those people anything.

If they could get a higher payinf job they should go do so, if not then I think it's probably better that they are getting paid by Wal-Mart than they be totally unemployed.

That Wal-Mart opposes it's own extortion (thats in the end what a strike threat is) isn't much of a shock.

So, a corporation that employes huge numbers of workers and pumps big $$$ into the economy is evil for not doing more.

Gotcha.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:07 AM on December 20, 2004


I hate WalMart's strong-arm pressure on their suppliers (and thus on employees of those suppliers) as much as the next guy, but is it responsible to imply that WalMart is responsible for forcing its own employees to get on welfare? It strikes me as a bit like saying "Since they're filled with millions of kids who have not yet graduated college, our elementary schools are a drag on society!"

(On preview, what soulhuntre said, but less so.)
posted by Plutor at 11:08 AM on December 20, 2004


You know, I've only been in a Wal-Mart twice in my life. Not out of any political objections. We just had other discount chains where I'm from. Neither time did they have what I was looking for. And one time I was just looking for a snack (all they had was a big bag of Fritos, not what I wanted). So how the hell did they manage to get so huge?
posted by jonmc at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2004




Wait a second, WalMart isn't the monstersized community builder all the commercials make it out to be? WalMart = Bad. Yep.

This is a good post and I loaded up on some new ammo to use against people I know who shop there.

Its scary but I hear "the lure of the Wal-Mart store for female shoppers, who delight "in spending as little as possible, all in one place." parroted to me by most women I know who shop there and refuse to consider the implications. In fact, I've told one woman to not bother to give us anything from WalMart because I will refuse to accept anything from there anymore.
posted by fenriq at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2004


jonmc, because they can sell you that bag of Fritos for 8 cents less than anyone else.
posted by fenriq at 11:12 AM on December 20, 2004


What soulhuntre said, and even more so.

I guess the only good company is one that doesn't employ anybody.

Report is over 10 months old, got pretty much zero play when released. Miller is a strident ideologue who is not taken seriously even by his Democrat colleagues on Capitol Hill.
posted by 1016 at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2004


I think the point you're missing is Wal-mart is cheaper because they are shifting costs on to the taxpayers. They force communities to subsidize their stores through tax breaks and artificially cheap labor, which then destroys all of the communities in the surrounding area.

To use another example, say a pharmaceutical company was beating out the competition by simply dumping their waste into the river. Sure, they're selling a cheaper product and people enjoy it, but the company has simply shifted the cost of clean up onto the local community.

Long story short, goods basically have a set cost, and Walmart makes a lot of money by bearing as little of it as possible

Shop at Costco
posted by slapshot57 at 11:16 AM on December 20, 2004


yeah, fenriq, but they didn't have the bag of Doritos I really wanted, so I didn't go back. That's gotta be self defeating for them.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2004


I used to work for a McDonald's kiosk located in a Wal-Mart store (I know, shudder.. I was young). In the morning the "associates" would all gather for a staff meeting right out in front of the restaurant (oh, lucky me!).

At the end of each meeting they would ring out the sales numbers, best in each department etc. and then end the meeting with a chant.

This was at 6am. It was one of the creepiest situations I have ever had to deal with. I have not set foot in a Wal-Mart since (for a number of other reasons as well) and I'm not saying that Wal-Mart holds precedence for supposed employee "loyalty" or tactics to enforce it (especially after working at McDonald's) but it just seemed a bit much to me.
posted by purephase at 11:18 AM on December 20, 2004


Ayn Rand is rolling in her grave. The watery eyed socialists who portray success as failure can go take a hike.
posted by Osmanthus at 11:20 AM on December 20, 2004


slapshot57, thanks for making that clearer, I thought pretty much everyone was aware of how WalMart drives their prices down by strongarming suppliers and townships.

CostCo is good, better prices, much happier employees and a truly superb return policy (no receipt, no packaging, no manuals and you bought it two years ago? No problem!).

jonmc, oh they had it, but you had to go walking all through the store and past hundreds of special marked down deals designed to tease those dollar bills out of your wallet for some pre-landfill garbage.

Purephase, if you could have caught some of that on tape, you'd be an internet god by now. And yeah, that would creep me out badly too. Especially at 6 in the morning.
posted by fenriq at 11:20 AM on December 20, 2004


soulhuntre:

Exactly - because not enough money is better than no money.

Right - because getting a higher paying job, even with qualifications, is so easy. It is so much better to be underemployed than not employed.

Amen - because asking for more money is extortion.

Sí - pumping big money into economy by paying decent salaries so people can afford their company's goods...oh wait.

I am not sure if you work in corporate America, but after looking at your spelling and grammar, you may want to check out What Corporate America Can't Build: A Sentence.
posted by bakiwop at 11:21 AM on December 20, 2004


soulhunter,

how do you feel about Walmart's practice of decimating all the retail in a large area? Such as opening a Wal-mart in each of 6 adjacent communities and waiting a few years until all the competition is run out of business. They then build one giant Mega-Walmart at the intersection of these 6 communities and let the other smaller Walmarts shut down.

6 communities that each used to support their own shopping districts now all serviced by one giant walmart with a few dozen employees who don't get paid squat, cleaned at night by illegal immigrants.

yeah, Wal-mart is great for those people
posted by slapshot57 at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2004


Right. Like slavery would be better if we didn't feed and clothe all of the negroes.

If they can find a better-treating master they should go do so, if not then I think it's probably better that they are getting a shack to sleep in than being drowned in the river.

That we oppose the more uppity negroes (let's face it, that's what demanding freedom and a salary is) isn't much of a shock.

So, a plantation that feeds and shelters thousands of slaves and pumps big $$$ into the economy is evil for not doing more.

Gotcha.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2004


Looks like this is going to get ugly.

Luckily I've got my quality WalMart brand shit umbrella, it'll protect me from the poo flinging!
posted by fenriq at 11:26 AM on December 20, 2004


These [good] links seem to build a bit off ideas I saw in Frontline's Is Walmart Good For America (which you can view from that site)...

...i used to think that Walmart was "bad," but only in a "big store bad, mom-and-pop store good" kind of way. The Frontline piece really showed what a trickle-down baddening effect Walmart really has.

And it introduced me to Walmart chant...ick.
posted by tpl1212 at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2004


I think Wal-Mart is more powerful than a majority of nations in the UN. Maybe Osama is hiding out over there?
posted by asianmack at 11:29 AM on December 20, 2004


"Gimme a 'W'!" - "W!" "Gimme an 'A'!" - "A!" "Gimme an 'L'!" - "L!" "Gimme a squiggly!" (A 'squiggly' represents the dash between the "Wal" and the "Mart"). Here, instead of yelling "squiggly" the Wal-Mart associates wiggle their asses. I'm not kidding. Then the cheerleader proceeds to yell the M, A, R, and T to the appropriate responses. Then the lead yells "What's that spell?" - "Wal-Mart!" "Who's NUMBER ONE!?" - "Customers, ALWAYS!". (Source - Not official, but the only one I could find.)
posted by purephase at 11:29 AM on December 20, 2004


What slapshot57 said.
posted by effwerd at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2004


That Wal-Mart opposes it's own extortion (thats in the end what a strike threat is) isn't much of a shock.

Sorry. Maybe that's what they taught you in Business School or wherever else you decided to give up your soul, but striking is not extortion. It's a way for workers collectively to demand adequate compensation for their labor. The business owners, by their entrenched position, can set such wages as low as they'd like. The only way for workers to respond is through collective action up to, and including, work stoppage.

It is the workers themselves who give Walmart the bulk of its value. Just because the corporation can chew them up and spit them out with relative impunity doesn't change that fundamental fact. At some point, these externalities will have to be dealt with.
posted by felix betachat at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2004


Americans need large quantities of shlock, and WalMark delivers. So, while the store is icky, that's only because large parts of America is.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:31 AM on December 20, 2004


Walmart pays it's employees generally the absolute federal limit of the minimum wage from what I've read, something a vast majority of other companies also do. All this seems to point out is that since they employ so many, that it's easier to make large scary numbers of the minimum wage earners from them then say Kmart or Mom & Pop stores which do the same.

I remember reading somewhere about a study done by a University of Illinois professor who compared the ROI of Costco (Which pays their employees much better) and Walmart that the big W actually lost money by being cheap because it lead to much lower productivity, theft and a high turn-over rate. Anyone know where this report might be?
posted by Vaska at 11:33 AM on December 20, 2004


Also see Is Wal-Mart Good for America? Which claims not only does Wal Mart strongarm its suppliers, it actively helps them relocate to China to reduce their costs. So essentially, Wal-Mart encourages companies to move their manufacturing jobs overseas meaning less jobs in the US. Rubbermaid was used as an example.

Granted, I'm sure many companies do this without Wal-Mart's encouragement, but it certainly doesn't make Wal-Mart look any better in my eyes.
posted by infowar at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2004


Oops. I just happen to be wearing, at this very moment, the only product I've ever purchased from WalMart, my jeans. Cost me all of a dollar and some change. I held on to that $20 gift certificate for months but then some friends stole a pair of jeans from me and I was out of cash so I caved. I feel so... dirty.
posted by effwerd at 11:35 AM on December 20, 2004


See also the cover article of this week's Nation magazine: Down And Out In Discount America. Highlights for me: "In a chilling reversal of Henry Ford's strategy, which was to pay his workers amply so they could buy Ford cars, Wal-Mart's stingy compensation policies--workers make, on average, just over $8 an hour, and if they want health insurance, they must pay more than a third of the premium--contribute to an economy in which, increasingly, workers can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart."
posted by bookmobile at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2004


so they paid 5 billion a year in income taxes, according to the accounts on their home pages, and they cost 2.5 billion. so that's a net gain to the govt of 2.5 billion, right? is that particularly bad? i'm not sure what the argument is here (i can read the other arguments for myself, but the particular point of highlighting the tax isn't clear - was it just "ooh big number, scare people" or is there some logic i'm missing?)
posted by andrew cooke at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2004


Walmart
posted by ParisParamus at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2004


All goods have a fixed price? The hell am I comparison shopping for?

Wal-Mart is hated for being the biggest company in the world, which allows them to do things because of their size that other companies can't. Target, on the other hand, has some sort of cachet because they have Michael Graves designing teapots, and Isaac Mizrahi designing frocks manufactured in some third-world hellhole.

Do you think a Wal-Mart opening in Brooklyn would draw such a cross-section of the hipoisie as the Target opening did?

Yeah, Wal-Mart is an example of the tyranny of the mediocre, but not everything can be special. At least they sell toilet paper and cleaning products cheaply.
posted by fet at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2004


So, a corporation that employes huge numbers of workers and pumps big $$$ into the economy is evil for not doing more.

Boy the left in this country really is dead if the average person doesn't think we have a right to demand livable wages in exchange for our labor.
posted by MillMan at 11:38 AM on December 20, 2004


Holy Hand Grenades of Antioch, I'm agreeing 100% with ParisParamus.

We are so screwed.
posted by eriko at 11:39 AM on December 20, 2004


The funny thing is that, even after expressing our outrage at Wal-mart's business practices, we'll go ahead and buy stuff elsewhere...like at K-Mart or Target. Or, heck, we'll shop at Wal-mart anyway, because the deals are so great! Don't shop there. It's plain and simple. Don't bother protesting, don't voice lengthy diatribes on the Web, just don't shop there. My wallet seems to be the only thing with a voice these days, so I might as well ensure it's heard.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:39 AM on December 20, 2004


People who work 40 hours a week deserve to make at least enough money to cover basic costs of living - rent, food, transportation, medical insurance, and clothing - for one person. And Wal-Mart (the largest private sector employer in the U.S.) isn't paying their employees at that minimum level, so their employees must depend on social assistance. To say that Wal-Mart workers should just get better jobs is to sidestep the issue.
posted by orange swan at 11:40 AM on December 20, 2004


Hey, trharlan. Have you ever worked for minimum wage? Know anybody who does?

Have you ever thought about how the anxiety of that might be quantified and expressed in monetary terms? How it might be compared with the GDP?

See, the Declaration of Independance holds as self evident the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Nary a word there about positive economic growth.

Take your snarks back to the gated community you aspire to, you asshole.
posted by felix betachat at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2004


Whoa.

Wal Mart = slavery.

And now that the thread has been effectively Godwin-ised, why don't you people take out that big ole butter knife of blame and spread some on the damned community consumers who choose to shop at Wal Mart instead of their local shops?

They, of course, are not at fault here. It's solely Wal Mart's fault for tempting them with lower prices. O' wicked smiley-faced siren!

Big tobacco, fast food, Wal Mart. It's always someone else's fault in this country. Personal responsibility is so, like, 1970s.

That being said: Wal Mart is still one awfully goddamned depressing cauldron of seething despair. Man, that place is horrible. Especially at night. The huge ceilings, rows and rows and holy crap more rows of florescent lighting, like hundreds of miles above your head, everyone moving really really slowly, staring at aisle after aisle of like tooth paste and moisturizer and oil and whatever else, and like all the old people. Seriously, the place doubles as a roving retirement community.

And everyone that works there seems like they want to die, but not before taking you and every other person in line out with them.

And those greeters. My god does my heart bleed for Wal Mart greeters. Is anything else in society as debased and wretched as the position of a Wal Mart greeter?

Every time I go into a Wal Mart, and thankfully it's been a year or two since I lowered myself to such abject horror, I walk out wanting to suck on my car's exhaust.

Woe to the Wal Mart shopper. Say a prayer for the culture that created this monster.
posted by xmutex at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2004


Soulhuntre: Have you ever had to work minimum wage? There are times when not working at such a job is better for you than working. Working a high-stress and labor-intensive retail job can end up costing you a lot more than you'd ever be paid there through incurring health related and even just basic work related expenses.

This is exactly the sort of reason why employees go on strike and unionize. Wal-Mart has very agressively - and possibly illegally - fought unionization of it's employees.

On preview: What FormlessOne said.
posted by loquacious at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2004


Capitalism is bad, eh comrades?

Didn't we already have this discussion at least once? Do we need to really have this argument multiple times?
posted by Seth at 11:46 AM on December 20, 2004


only because large parts of America is.

are.

and fuck you.
posted by keswick at 11:47 AM on December 20, 2004


WalMart does not equal capitalism.
posted by effwerd at 11:52 AM on December 20, 2004


fet,

say you buy a large jar of pickles at Walmart, produced by Vlasick. Its cheaper there because Walmart forces Vlasick to cut their costs by 10% a year, to the point where Vlasick loses money on their sales to Walmart but can't stop because Walmart is such a huge chunk of their business. These pushes Vlasick to outsource more and more to cut costs. Additionally, Walmart saves you money by paying their employees nothing and not chipping in for health care. Also, they have the land they want to build on condemned by the local government to get it cheaper. So yeah, no set prices for goods, but they do a lot of things I find unamerican to get it to the price they sell it for. Also, Target pays their employees better and does not engage in some of the same business practices as Walmart. Costco is still the place to shop though

FormlessOne,

protests do nothing, but I've convinced many acquaintances to take their business elsewhere

andrew cooke,

that's just silly, would your arguement still hold if they paid 5 billion and got back 4,999,999,995.00? We're still making money off of them, right?

xmutex,

again, silly arguement. People on the whole are generally dumb, they will often times not act in the best interest of the community until the need is dire. The government exists to make sure we do not get to that point. If you need an example, think of the FDA. A lot of people think it wastes a lot of time to get drugs to the market, but as soon as we relaxed restrictions we'd just get another fen-phen
posted by slapshot57 at 11:54 AM on December 20, 2004


Setting your own prices and wages is capitalism, and the very thing at issue here. None of which changes the fact that we have ALREADY plumbed these depths multiple times. This link shouldn't be here, and the resulting discussion will be redundant.
posted by Seth at 11:55 AM on December 20, 2004


xmutex (and Paris) pretty much sum it up. I don't really care about the morality of Wal Mart's existence. I just know that going to Wal Mart sucks horrible ass, so I avoid it like the plague. Everyone else is free to go or not go as they see fit.
posted by COBRA! at 11:55 AM on December 20, 2004


The people saying WalMart's great are the same ones that think a 10% tip is "good enough" and have never worked in the food business.

Until you've tried to get by on shitty pay and crappy tips, why not try to avoid making conclusions about things you know nothing at all about?

Seth, unfettered corporate capitalism at any cost and without any regard to the communities being destroyed, yes, is bad. Did you have something worthwhile to add?

On Preview: what slapshot57 said.
posted by fenriq at 11:56 AM on December 20, 2004


andrew cooke- Yeah, it was just a big number to get people scared. Seriously. But I think there is still a point. Just because Walmart taxes are net in the govt's favor does not mean that it is beside the point that there is a bill associated with the way that they pay their workers. That 2.4B # does not include any of the other things that Walmart's taxes go to pay for, like, for instance, roads, which they must use disproportionately given thier size.

Soulhuntre, 1016, Rayndists-I've never understood why it is the free market when it corporation strongarm workers, but incipient watery socialism when it workers get together to strongarm corporations. There is nothing wrong with the strongarm, as long as everyone can use it. Corporations that practice union-busting seem frightened of fair play.
posted by OmieWise at 11:58 AM on December 20, 2004


Ok, in the interest of all the people screaming capitalism and redundancy, how bout we address the issue of the post?


How do you all feel about subsidizing a corporation with your tax dollars that arguably hurts communities?

Would you feel the same way about a company that pollutes the environment or hurts our children?

And for those of you screaming capitalism, is this the kind of capitalism you liked practiced in this country? Or should we remove the subsidies from Walmart that allow it to compete with businesses like CostCo?
posted by slapshot57 at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2004


Setting your own prices and wages is capitalism, [...]

Right, we are discussing WalMart's practices as they apply to these issues. Not capitalism as a whole.
posted by effwerd at 12:01 PM on December 20, 2004


Slapshot, if you want to know what people think about this, then follow the link to the last time this was discussed (or any of the other times it was discussed). What possibly could come of this discussion? It is a double-post (if not more). That doesn't belong here, regardless of *your* desire to talk about it.
posted by Seth at 12:02 PM on December 20, 2004


Wal-Mart has very agressively - and possibly illegally - fought unionization of it's employees.

This is the part of it that doesn't hold water with me. First, in the U.S., it's not illegal for a company to oppose unionization (even "agressively"). Second, if the company does something illegal in connection with organizing drives, there's an entire federal agency that exists to deal with such claims. And -- get this -- in the event that it finds legal violations which are particularly egregious, the NLRB has the right to issue what's known as a Gissel bargaining order, essentially telling the company it must recognize and bargain with the union, even if it won a representation election.

In short, if your criticism of Wal-Mart is based solely on the fact that they oppose unionization, you should be working to get the law changed, not using this as evidence that the company's "evil."
posted by pardonyou? at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2004


Disclosure: I have a friend who was able to go to college because his mother was able to save some money from her Wal-Mart salary.

That said, Wal-Mart is wretched. No other company near Wal-Mart's size (not that there are many) has created such a wealth vacuum. That's right, wealth vacuum.

Let's look at the positive: the supply chain for many goods has never been this streamlined or optimized before. Wal-Mart demands such low margins, high quantities, and quick delivery that there's no room for slack in their suppliers. Everything bought by Wal-Mart comes to them at or below the profitability line. So who's making the money? Certainly not the suppliers, or the bottom-line employees, or even the store managers. It's the Waltons and stockholders.

Articles like this speculate about how the Waltons will spend their money, whether it be philanthropy or private projects. I'd recommend they do it the obvious way: make it so that their workers get a fair wage. Pulling this Henry Ford, "we know how to spend your money better than you" shit is ridiculous. Most of the people who work for Wal-Mart don't view it as a transition job; they're there for a career.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look for information on Wal-Mart -sponsored college scholarships. I found this in an article:
The Wal-Mart Competitive Edge Scholarship Fund awards graduating high school seniors scholarships who plan to focus their college studies on manufacturing, industry, and technology.

Wal-Mart's founder, Sam Walton, initiated the program in 1992 to encourage America's best and brightest students to carry on America's leadership in these important areas.


Interesting that many of the manufacturing and industry jobs are being offshored to come up with the prices necessary to get Wal-Mart contracts. Too little, too late.
posted by mikeh at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2004


I've known people who attempted to act as Wal-Mart suppliers, and the deals that they're forced to accept work basically like consignment. "You provide us with 150 units per store, (I.E. THOUSANDS) and if they don't sell by x date, you take them back. Oh, and pay freight both ways. We'll pay you in 180, if we don't 'lose' the invoice."

Wholesale vendors are in a conundrum--they can't afford to sell to Wal-Mart, and they can't afford to not sell to Wal-Mart, because it's the only venue for products in so many places.

I am firmly in the "vote with your wallet" camp, and will never darken their door again. I am also in the "vote with my vote" camp that won't take any giving away of my tax dollars to those bastards, either.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:10 PM on December 20, 2004


support america, buy chinese.
posted by three blind mice at 12:10 PM on December 20, 2004


sorry mikeh. haven't you heard? This has already been discussed. So your obviously well researched and well considered post is just covering old ground. Thanks though.
posted by felix betachat at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2004


seth,

I can see you've got a very fancy number and have obviously been here for a while, so could you do me a favor? I'm obviously new to posting here, so whenever you see a topic that's already been covered 6 months ago could you raise your hand so I know to move on to something else? Or it could be some other signal, maybe you could touch your nose or maybe make a repeated beeping noise. I'm not smart enough to keep track of these things myself. Thanks a lot,
posted by slapshot57 at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2004


andrew cooke: Does the "As long as you pay *something* to the government, it's okay" philosophy also apply to individuals? If so, I've got some new marching orders for my accountant.
posted by absalom at 12:13 PM on December 20, 2004


Don't shop there. It's plain and simple.

Gotta go with Formless on this one.

However disgusting one may find Wal-Mart's practices, these are practices common to most business. Large volume purchases from suppliers earn deeper discounts. No one made Vlasic fulfill that order; they could have said "no way, man" and had their product dropped from WM's shelves. Cost of doing business, folks. You want access to their distribution? You play by their rules.

They, and everyone who does business with WM chooses to do so. People who shop at WM do it....on purpose. People employed there filled out the job applications.

I don't shop there, mostly because I find the stores near me nasty and crowded.

On preview: So who's making the money? Certainly not the suppliers

Sure they are, they're just doing it at a lower margin-per-unit. Volume sales make a big difference, especially if you pick up more market share as a result. Do you really think any supplier would continue to do business with them if it meant continual loss?
posted by TeamBilly at 12:13 PM on December 20, 2004


Didn't we already have this discussion at least once? Do we need to really have this argument multiple times?

We pointed out how certain people's constant whining is annoying too. You can see how well that went.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2004


To be clear, this exact topic can be read about here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,
here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Now call me crazy, but 15 times might make this at least a double post and the discussion pointless. But screw that... we got noobs who want to educate some more! So onward!
posted by Seth at 12:15 PM on December 20, 2004


maybe make a repeated beeping noise.
Best. Characterization. Of. Seth's. Commenting. History. EVAR.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:21 PM on December 20, 2004


TeamBilly, suppliers don't chose to do business with WalMart. To not do business with WalMart effectively marginalizes your product and, if the company's public, you'll be taken to task for not doing everything possible to sell as many widgets as possible.

You take an overly simplistic approach to this problem. If WalMart has already driven all the competition out of business in your area, are you really going to drive 20 miles to go to Target because you hate WalMart that much? Some might but most people will just accept the situation and shop at WalMart even though they hate it.

Seth, you do realize that really and truly, no one gives a damn and your incessant whining has all the charm of a hungry mosquito? You are aware of all this, right?
posted by fenriq at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2004


People who work 40 hours a week deserve to make at least enough money to cover basic costs of living

Wal-Mart doesn't let most of their employees work more than 34 hours, which is still (unbelievably) considered "part time." full-time workers have to wait 6 months for any health care. part-time have to wait 2 years.

as far as the "if capitalism = good, why Wal-Mart = bad" question, i'd say that Wal-Mart is an excellent example of unfettered capitalism turned destructive.

i'm an anti-capitalist, so i'm obviously biased, but i honestly don't see much difference between Target and Wal-Mart philosophically. however, in practice, it seems like Wal-Mart uses extremely aggressive business practices (risks are stabilized by their massive capitalization) to monopolize commerce regions, creating a net loss for communities.

Wal-Mart is a great case study of why unregulated capitalism doesn't work well at all. kudos to the stockholders and the slaves teammates for making it happen.

somewhat related: i've often heard the accusation "for every two jobs Wal-Mart creates, it costs the community three," but i've never been able to find documentation of any such research. hogwash? it seems reasonable, but i don't know how you can demonstrate it.

on preview: Seth, those aren't double posts.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2004


From Penn State:
"We find, after controlling for other factors determining changes in the poverty rate over time, that both counties with more initial (1987) Wal-Mart stores and with more additions of stores between 1987 and 1998 experienced greater increases (or smaller decreases) in family poverty rates during the 1990s economic boom period."
posted by jim-of-oz at 12:23 PM on December 20, 2004


slapshot57 what part of my "argument" are you calling silly? i asked what the point of the 2.5 billion number was - is it was more or less than would be expected, given how much they pay? how does "silly" answer that?

i honestly don't have any idea how these things balance out. maybe 50% back is terrible, maybe it's wonderful - i don't know.

i do know, however, that some people like to run around calling things silly without thinking too much. in the long run they end up losing the argument because it's pretty obvious that they've not thought the case through. i've seen some good arguments against walmart, but calling someone who asks for more information silly is not one of them.

my sympathy isn't with walmart. but my antipathy is with people that think they can carry the argument by spouting random numbers; who use assorted name calling, but no logic.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:25 PM on December 20, 2004


Walmart forces Vlasick to cut their costs by 10% a year, to the point where Vlasick loses money on their sales to Walmart but can't stop because Walmart is such a huge chunk of their business.

Uhm, I'm all up on the Wal-Mart hate and I strongly encourage anyone to eatch the recent Frontline if they're wondering where the anger is coming from, but I couldn't let the above quotation float by. In your example, there is no incentive for Vlasic to continue selling items once their marginal cost drops below the marginal revenue, unless they have nowhere else to sell the things. Wal-Mart's disgusting practices squeeze retailers to death, but no one forces them to get in bed with WM to begin with.
posted by yerfatma at 12:31 PM on December 20, 2004


I had thought, that if we had any standards, the prohibition against double posts was the most agreeable one. Guess new people (and some petty old ones) would rather set aside this rule because of their desire to discuss the topic... yet... again.
posted by Seth at 12:31 PM on December 20, 2004


I think the point here is that Walmart costs local, state, and federal governments $2.5billion over what it already pays.

It's interesting that those here that profess a belief in the evil of social welfare are perfectly happy with corporate welfare.
posted by bshort at 12:31 PM on December 20, 2004


According to Forbes Magazine, Wal-Mart created the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth greatest fortunes in the U.S., at $18B each. Of course you can't legislate morality but shame on them if they aren't paying each and every employee a living wage.
posted by coelecanth at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2004


Seth,
Very cute, you searched the archives for mentions of Walmart without actually looking to see if they discussed different aspects of the chain. Seeing as how they comprise 2% of our GDP, don't you think they make a topic worthe discussing from time to time? And as that nice little link from XQUZYPHYR pointed out, put up or shut up. And as for Double posts, I agree with the rule, and I nominate you for extra special deputy of double posting. I'll mail you your cardboard star.

Andrew,
Didn't mean to be as dissmissive as I sounded apparently, I was just arguing that any burden Walmart places on the government amounts to us subsidizing them, which I don't agree with when I don't think they practice a good business model. even if we get a good return from them, we're just making them more competive then they should be. Anyways, sorry

yerfatma,
Market share. If Vlasick couldn't provide the pickles, someone else would. Said Pickle provider all of a sudden becomes the household name for pickles.
posted by slapshot57 at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2004


Seth:

Setting your own prices and wages is capitalism....

Not in a free market it isn't. In a free market, prices and wages are set by supply and demand in the market. If a company is freely setting it's own prices and wages without reference to the market, we're no longer talking about free market capitalism: we're talking about a constrained, monopolistic market. Monopolies (particularly in such ubiquitous businesses as retail sales) are bad for overall economic efficiency.

This idea that "free market" means "companies get to do whatever they want" is a pernicious misunderstanding of basic economic principles. It's also, I believe, often used as a completely disingenuous rhetorical device.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2004


over what it already pays.

thanks for that, but do you have any evidence? i thought it was a good suggestion, but can't see where it comes from, flipping through the report.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:41 PM on December 20, 2004


After the retailer wars, all stores are Wal*mart.

[Apolgies to Demolition Man]
posted by deborah at 12:41 PM on December 20, 2004


I wouldn't mind if we discussed this topic on Metafilter every damn day. Wal-Mart has profoundly affected the world's economy (in a bad way) and people need to be made aware of it.

If you have not seen that Frontline program yet, do yourself a favor and watch it right now. It's Christmas week, you don't have any work that needs to get done.
posted by fletchmuy at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2004


People who work 40 hours a week deserve to make at least enough money to cover basic costs of living

What if the value of their labor is so low that 40 hours of it don't add up to covering "basic costs of living"?
posted by kindall at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2004


in fact, from the text of the newspaper article, i think that's not the case - the 2,5 billion figure seems to be just the tooal cost, uncorrected for the income from tax. you'd need that number to 7.5 billion, i think.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2004


"People who work 40 hours a week deserve to make at least enough money to cover basic costs of living - rent, food, transportation, medical insurance, and clothing - for one person."

No, they deserve what the monetary equivalent of what their value to their employer is.

Have worked for the minimum wage, as an adult, by the way.

"How do you all feel about subsidizing a corporation with your tax dollars that arguably hurts communities?"

I'd hate it, but I also reject Miller's premise (about Walmart effectively being the recipient of a huge federal subsidy.) It's extremely shaky economics, at best. If it were otherwise, there would have been much hay made with it over the past 10 months. Instead, George's Marxist accounting was consigned to the ash heap of history, only to be revived nearly a year later by MetaFilter.

Best of the Web...right.
posted by 1016 at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2004


On the otherhand, I almost want to kiss Walmart when I remember that in many, or all places in the EU, it's illegal to "beat the competiitor's price," or run sales during most of the year, or have stores that are open 24/7, or just, perhaps on Sunday, or long hours. Can someone shed some light on these anti-American activities?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2004


I missed where someone compared Walmart to Hitler or Nazis*.

odinsdream: XYXYXSSHDZYZP compared Wal Mart to slavery. This is as stupid, inane, a conversation-ruining hysterical remark as Nazis or Hitler.

Notice, I said effectively Godwin-ised.
posted by xmutex at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2004


(or, inactivities?)
posted by ParisParamus at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2004


i'm an anti-capitalist,

Well, which economic system are you pro- ? I agree that as it stands right now, capitalism is kind of fucked up, but the other economic systems (communism, socialism) have been disasters, too. I'm honestly just curious.
posted by jonmc at 12:50 PM on December 20, 2004


"for every two jobs Wal-Mart creates, it costs the community three,"

This is an illogical comment. A job created is a job created for the community, unless Wal Mart started creating ServiceDrones and putting them to work in the stores.

The community outside of Wal Mart is another question. And again, if people don't like Wal Mart ruining their towns, DON'T SHOP THERE.
posted by xmutex at 12:51 PM on December 20, 2004


Fun numbers for the USA:

~ 2 million prison/jail/detention inmates
~ 2 million servicemembers
~ 1.2 million walmart employees
posted by reflection at 12:56 PM on December 20, 2004


Hmmm, anyone done an analysis of how much WM shoppers are contributing to the massive US trade deficit now turning the value of the US dollar into yesterdays oatmeal?
posted by telstar at 1:05 PM on December 20, 2004


Seth: There is a Blue Light Special in aisle 9 on whine. Although I think your cellar is probably already well-stocked.
posted by terrapin at 1:06 PM on December 20, 2004


In regard to the NLRB and "won't it take care of all the problems if walmart is doing illegal things?" The answer is: Probably not, no.

This story just dropped in on ye olde opinion wire. I thought y'all might like to read it.

KRT FORUM
By David Bonior
(KRT)
American workers are losing their rights.

Over the past several months, decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency charged with enforcing labor law, have stripped workers of legal protections. The system to protect workers has been broken for a long time, but it's getting worse.

In July, the NLRB ruled that graduate teaching and research assistants were students and not technically employees. Therefore universities do not have to bargain with them.

In September, the NLRB determined that disabled workers who receive rehabilitative services from employers should similarly not be classified as workers and therefore are ineligible to form unions under the protections of federal law.

In November, the NLRB barred employees of temp agencies from organizing with regular employees without permission from both their employer and agency. That same month, the NLRB also said employers could ban communications between workers expressing displeasure or anger over working conditions.

And this month, the NLRB reversed a longstanding precedent and made it easier for employers to get away with threats to close a facility if employees unionize.

The NLRB under President Bush is undercutting labor's right to organize. And employers are taking full advantage.

Based on the NLRB's own figures, every 23 minutes in this country, a worker is fired or discriminated against for attempting to exercise his freedom of association.

By law, employers aren't supposed to intimidate, coerce or fire employees for organizing.

But in reality, more than half of employers illegally threaten to close down worksites if employees choose union representation, according to research by Cornell University's Kate Bronfenbrenner. More than a third of employers give bribes or special favors to those who oppose the union. And a quarter of employers illegally fire pro-union employees during organizing campaigns.

This is not the face America wants to show the world in the 21st century. We are a better nation. A better people.

Labor unions are one of the few opportunities people have to come together in large numbers to shape the big decisions that directly dictate their work lives and indirectly affect the well being of the broader society.

Our standard of living will continue to fall until workers have a powerful voice again. If more workers had a strong voice today, it is hard to imagine that we'd have record numbers of people in poverty, falling wages, crumbling pensions, or that 45 million Americans would have no health insurance.

Many standards that define American jobs today - such as basic safety, health protections, family and medical leave and two-day weekends - are the result of negotiations between workers and employers.

As Americans, we value the democratic notion that working men and women should have a voice in the workplace. We believe that hard work and loyalty deserve to be rewarded and that working people should share in the benefits of the good things they help make possible.

American rights at work must be restored, protected and guaranteed.
posted by u.n. owen at 1:07 PM on December 20, 2004


Be sure to boycott and do your part by posting the weekly 'Wal-Mart=bad newsfilter' because you see how well that's driving them into the ground.
posted by sageleaf at 1:08 PM on December 20, 2004


Can someone shed some light on these anti-American activities?

Poor Paris still can't figure out that the EU isn't American.
posted by terrapin at 1:10 PM on December 20, 2004


Who'd have thought that a company that involves millions of people, has had a widespread impact on the way the entire market economy does business, and has controversial practices would be the topic of multiple threads on the blue?

Sorry, Wal-Mart. We can't discuss you anymore on MeFi because we've already had enough threads. Once they're all closed, it's over! You're irrelevant!

There are lots of threads I haven't posted on because I didn't feel I had anything constructive to say, or I was just sick of the topic. Not posted. On those threads. Anyone getting any ideas?
posted by mikeh at 1:10 PM on December 20, 2004


odinsdream: XYXYXSSHDZYZP compared Wal Mart to slavery. This is as stupid, inane, a conversation-ruining hysterical remark as Nazis or Hitler.

That's a very ignorant and lazy way to describe it. I pointed out that soulhuntre's defense of Wal-Mart was pathetic and simplistic, akin to the same logic of the slave period in that menial laborers should be grateful because they're being given the glorious benefits of their masters. It's the same logic used to say that children in coal mines in the late 19th century should be grateful for being allowed to work to support their family. My point is that soulhuntre's logic was as stupid as the logic that could defend slavery in its time; I don't see where I said WalMart was slavery, nor any implication to Nazis at all. Grow up and stop screaming (and misusing the term of) Godwin everytime someone tries to make a relevant point.

As far as "hysterical remark" goes the idea that you skipped right over calling unionization "extortion" is amazing.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:13 PM on December 20, 2004


> Can someone shed some light on these anti-American activities?

Seriously. Without 24-hour access to consumer goods, however will we survive as a society?
posted by occhiblu at 1:15 PM on December 20, 2004


> "for every two jobs Wal-Mart creates, it costs the community three,"

>>This is an illogical comment. A job created is a job created for the community, unless Wal Mart started creating ServiceDrones and putting them to work in the stores.

I don't know whether the 2-for-3 figure is right, but I think the idea is that, for example, a community might have two Mom & Pop hardware stores that manage to have enough customers to each survive. Wal-Mart comes in with much lower prices, and suddenly there's such a drain on customers that neither hardware store can stay in business (or, at the very least, both have to lay off workers). Wal-Mart would presumably not hire ALL the laid-off employees from those stores, and so even if it hired some of them, the net result is a loss of jobs.
posted by occhiblu at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2004


Setting your own prices and wages is capitalism

Who died and made you the arbiter of what is and is not "capitalism".

I find it interesting that a large chunk of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was given over to an analysis of the Walmart of his day, the British East India Company, and a discussion of how necessary it seemed that the newly powerful nation states must perforce act to force corporations to behave in the national interest.

Given the laxer human rights standards of the day, the BEIC behaved much as Walmart does today: strong-arming suppliers (sometimes quite literally), underpaying semi-captive workers, destroying local industries and services by monopolizing or assimilating them, and using its vast cash reserves to buy influence on an international scale a laxer regulatory environment.

USians may remember that the Boston Tea Party was not a terrorist action against the British colonial regime per se but economic vandalism directed against the BEIC.

This was part of a larger trend within Britain and the West - as the 18th century drew to a close nation states, having become weakened shadows of themselves for almost a century, began to centralise and claw back power from the nobels and corporations that had usurped their authority and influence. In fact, the corralling of ancien regimes in favour of nation state regulation was a persistent theme of the 19th century.

In Britain this manifested as both socialists and capitalists alike, recognizing a common enemy, united to reduce the influence of the BEIC within Britain, emasculating it and restricting its domain to marginal territories abroad.

Here's Adam Smith on what today we would call "living wages":
The difference between the genius of the British constitution which protects and governs North America, and that of the mercantile company which oppresses and domineers in the East Indies, cannot perhaps be better illustrated than by the different state of those countries.

The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the labouring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they are going fast backwards.
If you look at the dynamics of corporation/trade association and state power relations over the past millenia or so within the West then you see a familiar see-saw pattern of waxing and waning influence. Corporations now are currently in the ascendent, with their tightly interlinked and incestuous executive aristocracy resembling closely the tight, fluxional, economically dominant and effective network of western European nobility circa 1750 or so.

L'État, c'est Walmart.
posted by meehawl at 1:29 PM on December 20, 2004


Can we institute a new rule whereby the rest of us are allowed to throw up all over anyone who decries "socialism" but has happily used or admired the use of a government-funded highway system, university, library, student or home loan, fire department, gas pump, police department, army or other branch of the armed forces, etc., etc., etc.?

Some of the opinions on this thread are bizarre. Collective bargaining is extortion, although businesses setting wages arbitrarily low is just S.O.P.? Paying full-time workers a non-living wage is a social benefit? Monopolization is progress?

Do those of you arguing this really want a return to the late nineteenth century, which is basically what you're agitating for? You liked the kerosene in the creamed corn and all the rest of it?
posted by kyrademon at 1:29 PM on December 20, 2004


Not to derail (as if you could stop this train of a thread) -- my old econ professor said he wanted to be a Wal-Mart greeter when he retired from teaching. He said he realized this after stopping by a Wal-Mart once and having the following exchange with the elderly greeter:
  Greeter: "Hello and welcome to Wal-Mart. Would you like a cart?"
  Econ Prof: "Why, yes, I would!"
  Greeter: "They're right over there."
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2004


I saw that Frontline program when it first aired. The View from Long Beach segment, about the trade deficit with China, particularly stuck in my mind.

Last year we imported $36 billion of goods from China. We exported only $3 billion and most of what we sent out was raw materials to service China's production boom.
posted by redneck_zionist at 1:42 PM on December 20, 2004


Welcome back seth. Don't know if you'll get down this far in the thread, but I've missed your vitriol. Seriously. And your dp (of the topic for sure) research / callouts.
posted by zpousman at 1:43 PM on December 20, 2004


reflection:
Fun numbers for the USA:

~ 2 million prison/jail/detention inmates
~ 2 million servicemembers
~ 1.2 million walmart employees


Wow, what an amazingly useful bit of information! Did you know that the human head weighs 8lbs?
posted by fet at 1:52 PM on December 20, 2004


"Wow, what an amazingly useful bit of information! Did you know that the human head weighs 8lbs?"

Yeah, but Wal-Mart's trying to get the manufacturer to make a special 10-lb. version for their exclusive use, and they're trying to bring it in at just 105% of the 8-lb. cost.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:03 PM on December 20, 2004


andrew - that $2.5 billion number is the amount that the various governments have to pick up because Walmart isn't paying it's employees enough to provide themselves with healthcare. That's a burden that Walmart, with its record profits, etc. should be picking up.

The taxes we pay are dues to live in this country and enjoy a certain level of security and infrastructure, and Walmart isn't fulfilling its responsibilities.

So yeah, I think that 7.5 billion number is actually more accurate, considering that the 5 billion dollars paid in income taxes is already spoken for.
posted by bshort at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2004


XYZPHPRYZZ: Riiiight. Like I could have divined everything you just now said from your original comment.

Apologies for being so damned ignorant and lazy. Next time, try saying what you mean.
posted by xmutex at 2:21 PM on December 20, 2004


Do we need to really have this argument multiple times?

Metafilter's resident vigilante is back just in time for the holidays. Yay! Would love to see the uniform...
posted by juiceCake at 2:23 PM on December 20, 2004


Walking into a Wal-Mart supercenter at 2 am is an experience. It reminds me of whats wrong with our outrageous American consumer culture. A screwed up environment-destroying culture that we're trying to market to the world.

Check out the Flickr Wal-Mart group
posted by thisisdrew at 2:29 PM on December 20, 2004


Neither time did they have what I was looking for. And one time I was just looking for a snack (all they had was a big bag of Fritos, not what I wanted). So how the hell did they manage to get so huge?

Are you sure that was a real walmart? Or maybe it was the first one. If I could somehow avoid the two lanes of every snack known to man I'd be happy.

This is a good post and I loaded up on some new ammo to use against people I know who shop there.

God, and people wonder why no one listens to the fringe left (not to mention is a crap post).

jonmc, oh they had it, but you had to go walking all through the store and past hundreds of special marked down deals designed to tease those dollar bills out of your wallet for some pre-landfill garbage.

At the walmart down the street the snack section is at the very front of the store. So, you're wrong (of course, how could you not be wrong since you never go there.)

Boy the left in this country really is dead if the average person doesn't think we have a right to demand livable wages in exchange for our labor.


You have the right to livable wages when you have a skill worth making livable wages. That the average liberal doesn't think so shows why the left is dead in america.

People on the whole are generally dumb, they will often times not act in the best interest of the community until the need is dire. The government exists to make sure we do not get to that point.

Screw the individual, let the government save us. Nice.

The people saying WalMart's great are the same ones that think a 10% tip is "good enough" and have never worked in the food business.

I hate most walmarts. The one near me is great. Never crowded, open 24 hours, friendly people, and one of the only stores in my rural area. I've worked many jobs in the food business living on tips, and I normally tip 20 percent. So your generalization is a false one.
posted by justgary at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2004


justgary,

we have very different ideas. I feel someone working 40 hours a week as a waiter/cashier/stock boy should have a liveable wage a decent health care plan in the greatest country in the world. Do you disagree with this statement?
At what threshold should someone be paid a living wage in your opinion? And it's statements like those which make me remember why I revile so many of the rights most popular spokespeople.

As for the government, maybe I'm biased as someone raised within spitting distance of the NIH. But yeah, government should be there to save us from unscrupulous people, such as the Enron's, the polluters, the people out for a quick buck. Because yes, they are out there, and I enjoy my tax dollars paying people whose job it is to keep people from screwing me, because I can't afford a staff at the moment.
posted by slapshot57 at 2:42 PM on December 20, 2004



You have the right to livable wages when you have a skill worth making livable wages. That the average liberal doesn't think so shows why the left is dead in america.


Right, because all of the jobs that require minimal skills (Wal-Mart greeter or stock person, etc.) are transition jobs, or fill-in work for part-timers. Sorry, I don't buy it. These are companies that need a core of people to work full time in order to run their business. They may be cheating the system by claiming this core is working only 36 hours, but that's just playing the system.

These people are working full-time at Wal-Mart because they lack the training or qualifications to get a better job. Yes, there are the lazy, the dumb, and whatever other insult you may put on them that work these jobs, but there are a lot of people who are trying their hardest to get by as well. If I work full-time at Wal-Mart, I deserve a livable wage. If you're arguing against that, then you're arguing for full-time jobs that don't pay a livable wage, then I have absolutely no idea what kind of magic your system runs on.
posted by mikeh at 2:49 PM on December 20, 2004


If Walmart raised wages to a level that would cancel out the need for gov't welfare payments it would raise its product prices an equal amount and pass the costs onto the consumer. Since Walmart deals mostly in perishables and not luxury goods such a price hike would be analogous to a flat sales tax. Flat taxes are always regressive, in that the predominantly poor who are Walmart's principle shoppers have to pay a much larger percentage of their income. Prior to any shifting of the burden of these people's healthcare the monies presumably came from a general tax fund that is maintained by income taxes which is progressive. Such a move would then make the burden of these peoples healthcare much flatter.
posted by Endymion at 2:56 PM on December 20, 2004


> If Walmart raised wages to a level that would cancel out the need for gov't welfare payments it would raise its product prices an equal amount and pass the costs onto the consumer.

Perhaps it could take less profits? I realize it's a revolutionary concept, but if we're speaking in hypotheticals....
posted by occhiblu at 3:10 PM on December 20, 2004


I hate Wal-Mart. And it has nothing to do with any of their tactics either. I hate it because the buildings are ugly, the ailes are crowded and the deals, frankly aren't all that great.

The fact that Wal-Mart makes so much money and manages to piss so many people off is a plus in my book.

People make it sound as though Wal-Mart is kidnapping people and forcing them to work there. I've never worked there, but I'd be willing to bet a very high percentage of their employees willingly filled out an application and were happy when they were hired.

Maybe they beat up suppliers on price a little bit, but what company doesn'? I'm sure there are tons of manufacturers out there falling over themselves trying to get their items into Wal-Mart.
posted by b_thinky at 3:12 PM on December 20, 2004


So the Walmart employees are not paid (enough), but their needs are taken care off by the state?
Funny, but that sounds exactly like communism.
posted by spazzm at 3:15 PM on December 20, 2004


This is a good post and I loaded up on some new ammo to use against people I know who shop there.

God, and people wonder why no one listens to the fringe left (not to mention is a crap post).


I don't think anyone wonders why on one listens to the fringe left, though I do believe people wonder why anyone listens to the fringe left, right, centre...

What was that about generalizations?
posted by juiceCake at 3:19 PM on December 20, 2004


Perhaps it could take less profits? I realize it's a revolutionary concept, but if we're speaking in hypothetical....

Perhaps but baring a adorable redheaded child to show Daddy WalBucks the error of his ways I don't think they are going to do anything like that willingly. Legislation to that effect, on the other hand, might have a chilling effect on industry which would hurt everyone. Furthermore there are ethical considerations to whether it is right to deprive an organization of the fruits of their labor just because they exceeded some arbitrary cost value.
posted by Endymion at 3:21 PM on December 20, 2004


justgary,
God, and people wonder why no one listens to the fringe left (not to mention is a crap post).

Hmm, and your reading and replying is a sign of not listening to the "fringe" and since you didn't read the post you got here by magic?

You have the right to livable wages when you have a skill worth making livable wages. That the average liberal doesn't think so shows why the left is dead in america.

Ahh, I get it, because its not a skilled position, the guy saying hi when you come in the door deserves to eat Ramen for dinner every night. Thanks for clearing that up. And not even a tad elitist.

I hate most walmarts. The one near me is great. Never crowded, open 24 hours, friendly people, and one of the only stores in my rural area. I've worked many jobs in the food business living on tips, and I normally tip 20 percent. So your generalization is a false one.

Yes, generalizations when applied to individuals are almost always busted up. Wow, revelation #1 right there. Besides, I'm pretty well aware that you're only to happy to pipe up loudly against pretty much anything I've said here, so, big surprise that you're popping up here to refute a generalization with your personal experiences.

And let's see, its the only store around? That's nice since they drove the other stores out of business.

All I want for WalMart to do is to pay their employees an honest wage, stop the strongarming of suppliers, quit with the mandatory unpaid overtime, equalize the pay disparities between male and female managers, stop forcing manufacturers overseas and stop weaseling money off the towns they're supposedly saving.

And its despicable that the Walton's are the wealthiest family in the world and their company is such a goddamn disgrace to the workers.

b_thinky, they "beat up their suppliers some" is cute. Almost like they're a schoolyard bully and not the largest corporation on the planet forcing suppliers to reduce prices they sell to WalMart or they get dropped.
posted by fenriq at 3:23 PM on December 20, 2004


If I work full-time at Wal-Mart, I deserve a livable wage. If you're arguing against that, then you're arguing for full-time jobs that don't pay a livable wage, then I have absolutely no idea what kind of magic your system runs on.

There's nothing magical about it. Time just isn't valuable. Everyone has the same amount of it. No job is determined by how much time you spend there. Although there are baseline restrictions for pragmatic reasons, it is your work during that period of time that gives a job its value. Otherwise what is to differentiate one block of 40 hours from another, one wherein one watches tv from one where one is at Walmart; only what you produced in that timespan. Your criteria for determining at what point one 'deserves' a wage is based merely on time and nothing else. Time has no value because it is a fixed quantity. It can't be traded and even if it could it has no variation to produce an incentive to do so. It's not even a barter economy, which at least has physical representations of time, time simply has no value.
posted by Endymion at 3:35 PM on December 20, 2004


mikeh: If I work full-time at Wal-Mart, I deserve a livable wage.

I disagree. I think you deserve whatever the market sets your rate at.

These people are working full-time at Wal-Mart because they lack the training or qualifications to get a better job...

And if we artificially inflate the pay for such jobs, what incentive is there to get a better job?

If we have a large number of people that cannot get a job that pays a living wage, we need to figure out the underlying cause of that situation and fix it. To me, the short term fix of (indirectly) taxing everyone to help this group without correcting the systemic problem will just make everyone worse off in the long run.

BTW, the underlying cause is not that Walmart is greedy. Its simple supply and demand. There are more people available to fill a Walmart position then there are those types of positions.

fenriq: Ahh, I get it, because its not a skilled position, the guy saying hi when you come in the door deserves to eat Ramen for dinner every night.

Deserve doesn't enter into it. I would love it if everyone was able to eat steak every night, or chicken, or whatever you like that's better than Ramen noodles. I just don't want it done on my dime. And any artificial inflation of someone's wages is on my dime.
posted by Bort at 3:38 PM on December 20, 2004


Bort, what about artificial deflation of someone's wages on your dime? Is that okay?

And I do think that deserve enters into it. If someone's working full time then they deserve to be paid a livable wage and deserve medical coverage and alot more. Especially if we're talking a company that employs 1.2 million people. And has a majority of the top ten wealthiest people in the world as its founding members.

The fact is that WalMart answers to its shareholders and not its customers. They will do anything they feel they need to in the name of making their shareholders another couple of bucks. And that means that they will exploit every single possible loophole to wring every penny possible out of the system.

And that bothers me.
posted by fenriq at 3:47 PM on December 20, 2004


Shouldn't people be more outraged at people who shop at Wal-Mart than the company itself? Without people choosing to patronize Wal-Mart instead of the local pop&mom stores, Wal-Mart wouldn't exist.
posted by gyc at 3:53 PM on December 20, 2004


Shouldn't people be more outraged at people who shop at Wal-Mart than the company itself? Without people choosing to patronize Wal-Mart instead of the local pop&mom stores, Wal-Mart wouldn't exist.

There's about as much of a chance of winning the war on Walmart's as there of winning the War on Drugs. You're never going to eliminate the desire for sweet lady H and you're never going to eliminate the desire for brand name products at low low prices.
posted by Endymion at 4:01 PM on December 20, 2004


If we have a large number of people that cannot get a job that pays a living wage, we need to figure out the underlying cause of that situation and fix it.
Bort, couoldn't one underlying cause might be that a single retailer, Wal-Mart, has massive purchasing power in the labor market.

To the numerous people here saying that if Wal-Mart doesn't feel like paying a living wage, then it must mean the work isn't "valuable" enough, I say that this argument carries more than a whiff of tautology. What part of this argument could not have been applied to coal miners in 1910?

The simple fact is that where a company that pulls billions and billions of dollars' profit out of small communities where it is both the largest employer and the largest seller of goods, and where it fails to pay a living wage to its customers/employees, the social good is poorly served.

I'm not really a social-justice/living-wage kind of person, but it seems obvious even to me that Wal-Mart is heading for a reckoning.
posted by coelecanth at 4:07 PM on December 20, 2004


You have the right to livable wages when you have a skill worth making livable wages. That the average liberal doesn't think so shows why the left is dead in america.

justgary, what do you do for a living?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:12 PM on December 20, 2004


The minimum wage worker is actually producing value for the company, something the average shareholder rarely/never does, so in a fair world, a worker would see a greater reward for their work than a shareholder.

Unfortunately, retail companies rarely work this way.
posted by drezdn at 4:13 PM on December 20, 2004


fenriq: what about artificial deflation of someone's wages on your dime? Is that okay?

How can wages be artificially deflated? If Walmart paid less than what someone could get somewhere else, they wouldn't be able to fill all of their positions.

If someone's working full time then they deserve to be paid a livable wage and deserve medical coverage and alot more.

Not to be a smart-ass, but can you define deserves? Sounds like you mean "should be guaranteed by the government." And that means at the expense of everyone else. I don't believe that is the best long term solution.

And has a majority of the top ten wealthiest people in the world as its founding members.

The distribution of wealth in this country is something that concerns me, but I don't see how that pertains to this discussion.

The fact is that WalMart answers to its shareholders and not its customers. They will do anything they feel they need to in the name of making their shareholders another couple of bucks. And that means that they will exploit every single possible loophole to wring every penny possible out of the system.

And that bothers me.


I understand, and I agree to a large extend. Where I disagree is that I do not think that working 40hrs a week should guarantee anything. While the compassionate side of me thinks this should be the case, the logical side of me thinks that this will make things worse long term.

At least, that's where I stand today. This is one of those issues that I see as very messy (not clear cut or black and white), and my thoughts could easily be swayed. Sway away! :)
posted by Bort at 4:13 PM on December 20, 2004


Bort, artificially deflated wages to me means that WalMart comes to town, drives its competition out of business and then can pay its employees anything they want because they don't have any other options.

And no, I don't think the government should be guaranteeing anything (see how well they've done with the flu vaccines this year for a good reason why I'd like them to stay on the sidelines). I'm saying that someone who's working full time should be able to make ends meet.

No, that doesn't mean that they should be spending their money on a new Escalade that they can pimp out. But that people who are working to survive should be able to survive on their pay. People shouldn't be needing two and three jobs to make ends meet.

WalMart is a wealthy enough company that they can afford to pay their employees better. The reason I mention the top 10 wealthiest people in the world being Waltons is to illustrate that they don't give a damn about the grunts in the trenches, they are, effectively, cannon fodder for their bank accounts.

Yes, that's typical of any large company but that doesn't make it right. And since there are companies like CostCo that don't do business like that, I'll take my business to a company that treats its employees like people rather than a means to their bottomline.
posted by fenriq at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2004


. . . and now people are attempting to seriously argue that wages are actually genuinely based on the amount of work done.

What planet do they live on?
posted by kyrademon at 4:26 PM on December 20, 2004


Ahh, I get it, because its not a skilled position, the guy saying hi when you come in the door deserves to eat Ramen for dinner every night. Thanks for clearing that up. And not even a tad elitist.

Aw come on fenriq. This is part of the problem here: everyone spends so much time mangling the opposition viewpoint that any sort of genuine debate is impossible because we're all just flinging feces at each other.

No one thinks some old guy deserves to eat dog food at night; what the opinion is is that it's not Wal Mart's responsibility to look after the old guy's well-being. It's the old guy's.

Now, you can state whether or not you agree with that.
posted by xmutex at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2004


Its nice that some of you think we live in a free-market, capitalist paradise (as an idiot friend of mine puts it), but you're forgetting the acres of regulation that have been put in place over the past 200 years of American society. We live in a quasi-socialist republic, not a free-market capitalist democracy.

The federal minimum wage exists for a reason, mainly to prevent the haves from exploiting the have-nots, and secondly to prevent the Government from having to pickup the slack in the form of entitlement programs. Looking at 70 years of minimum wage history, we see that the real-dollar value of minimum wage has been slipping slowly since 1968 (which, in today's dollar is about 8.40 an hour), and not so slowly since 1980. It's also interesting to note that 1950s, when the minimum wage was nearly doubled, was one of the most productive economic periods in US history (Although there are plenty of other factors involved, for sure).

Not to get off the topic of Walmart and on to the topic of McDonalds, but in a similar vein, if McDonalds increased it's minimum wage by 1 dollar it would improve the lives of their employees tremendously, and end up adding 2 cents to the price of a hamburger (Fast Food Nation). I'm sure it's similar for Wal-Mart.

How the fuck can anyone who works for a living be against that?
posted by SweetJesus at 4:36 PM on December 20, 2004


coelecanth: couoldn't one underlying cause might be that a single retailer, Wal-Mart, has massive purchasing power in the labor market.

Perhaps. But to me, if there weren't more people to fill those jobs then there were jobs, Walmart would have to raise its rates.

To the numerous people here saying that if Wal-Mart doesn't feel like paying a living wage, then it must mean the work isn't "valuable" enough, I say that this argument carries more than a whiff of tautology.

The pay someone receives for their work has less to do with the value of what they produce and more to do with how easily they can be replaced. That's why in '99 programmers with little experience or skill were making gobs of money. It had little to do with the "value" of what they did and everything to do with supply and demand.

Its a tautology because the value of the work is defined as what Walmart needs to pay in order to fill the position.
posted by Bort at 4:38 PM on December 20, 2004


Fenriq: Can you explain how Wal-Mart even has any employees if they treat them like such crap? I mean, if working there is not in the employee's best interest, why does s/he even work there in the first place?

Also, why would suppliers sell to Wal-Mart if it's not in their best interest? Nobody is going to sell their widgets for a loss just because it's Wal-Mart.

Home Depot is trying to get into my town, but a few deranged community members are filing complaint after complaint to prevent it from happening. "They'll drive the local hardware stores out of business," they argue. Well the local hardware stores suck. Every time I go there they don't have what I'm looking for and the service sucks. Meanwhile, at Home Depot the employees quickly help me with whatever I need and I can get stuff for low prices. I want my Home Depot damnit!

Pardon me for not having an unwavering allegiance to local business owners. But I spend my money where it travels the farthest. If local businesses can't compete on price or selection then they have to be a bit more creative. They can't just earn the right to stay in business by being from my town. When I get my lunch burrito I could go to Taco Bell, but the local shop down the street sells one that 50x better for 10x the price. Plus, it's cleaner than Taco Bell and the owner is a really nice guy who makes the burritos himself. I go there once a week and I haven't been to Taco Bell in years. Quality, friendly service and a nice atmosphere goes a long way.
posted by b_thinky at 4:41 PM on December 20, 2004


hey, it's the way america works - walmart made themselves the most popular/strong/kick ass comapny in the world today so they get to make the rules and the money. if you don't like it.
posted by bakiwop at 4:44 PM on December 20, 2004


Of course, those of you who don't want to "pay for" a minimum wage on which full-time workers can actually survive are paying for it anyway. In fact, you're paying more.

You're paying for the additional welfare money they need to survive. You're paying for their medical costs when they go into an emergency room without any insurance. You're paying for their jail and rehab time when they get desperate or crazy enough. You're paying for the INS border patrols for the illegal immigrants who come when businesses know they can get away with hiring them for even lower wages. You're paying with the depression in your own wages as other businesses cut costs to compete. You're paying through the nose.

Of course, there are probably those here who would argue that they'd rather not pay for any of that either. If their wish someday comes true, I'll be interested to see whether or not they believe that the fairly rapid transformation of their country into an unstable third-world nation is counted as "paying for" anything.

Much more sensible to pay for things up front at the check-out counter . . . but "sensible" has never been common for those with an Econ 101 understanding of the world.
posted by kyrademon at 5:01 PM on December 20, 2004


SweetJesus: Its nice that some of you think we live in a free-market, capitalist paradise (as an idiot friend of mine puts it), but you're forgetting the acres of regulation that have been put in place over the past 200 years of American society.

I can't speak for others here, but while I love the free-market and think it should set wages, I'm not blind to the need for regulation. I'm aware of the type of scum out there running a lot of corporations.

The federal minimum wage exists for a reason, mainly to prevent the haves from exploiting the have-nots, and secondly to prevent the Government from having to pickup the slack in the form of entitlement programs.

So, it's an indirect tax instead of a direct one? I prefer my taxation to be direct and visible. I said earlier that, to paraphrase, I don't want artificially inflated wages on my dime. That was somewhat of an overstatement. I understand and see the need of (some) entitlement programs and will happily pay the taxes they require. But tax me directly, so I can see it. Don't hide the tax in the form of a minimum wage.
posted by Bort at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2004


So, it's an indirect tax instead of a direct one? I prefer my taxation to be direct and visible. I said earlier that, to paraphrase, I don't want artificially inflated wages on my dime. That was somewhat of an overstatement. I understand and see the need of (some) entitlement programs and will happily pay the taxes they require. But tax me directly, so I can see it. Don't hide the tax in the form of a minimum wage.

So we're going to tax the rich, to give to the poor? Hey comrade, I like the way you're thinking. We need more wealth distribution in this country, teach the bourgeoisie a thing or two! Welcome aboard, I'll send you a membership kit.

But in all seriousness, the minimum wage is not a tax on you. It's something we accept in order to live in a country that values citizens over business interests, and puts the interests of said citizens over and above the needs of the few (who control the means to produce. no less!). Accept that fact, and be glad you're weren't born in some hellish place where all the low wage manufacturing jobs are quickly disappearing to.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:43 PM on December 20, 2004


Imagine.
posted by jaronson at 5:57 PM on December 20, 2004


I think this is the point where someone says: if we are going to have a minimum wage how about set it at $50/h then we can all be rich!
posted by drscroogemcduck at 6:20 PM on December 20, 2004


If only life were as simple as you...
posted by SweetJesus at 6:24 PM on December 20, 2004



Of course, that would drive the stock price down, cutting grandma's income, forcing her to get a job at the local Wal-Mart,


Your grandmother should have diversified.

At any rate, this is an excellent definition of feudalism: what's good for the lord is good for the peasants.

There's a reason why that system lasted as long as it did.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:30 PM on December 20, 2004


It would be exceedingly interesting to have data about HOW MUCH did Walmart drop prices since when it started operations. Also differences in quantities would be very interesting.

But to have real data, not alterated-for-the-masses, one would need to be in Walmart top management.

Funny that private companies can keep secret what is in the interest of an entire country ; even more funny, people believe that balance sheet makes any sense :D ! Ask any accounting expert how true a balance sheet is...ops any intellectually honest and capable accounting expert.
posted by elpapacito at 6:45 PM on December 20, 2004


Ops I forgot , this is real:

1. one Walmart like company in my country is selling Coke at $1.30 , it employes more or less 30 people to move pallets and pallets of Coke a day

2. one mom, pop & brother shop employing 5 people sells the very same Coke at $1.32 . Their coke shelf is a classical coke expositor, more or less the size of a man.


The same has always been true for the last 6 months, expect some days in which the Walmart-like offered coke at $1. All other things equal, who do you think is making more profits ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:50 PM on December 20, 2004


To all those in this thread who don't want any government interference to artificially inflate wages, you should note that the government already does this. It sets minimum wages and mandatory overtime pay. It would be interesting to see what would happen if these two socialist concepts were removed. How little could WalMart get away with paying their workers? $4.00 an hour for 10 hour days? $3.00? At what point does it become "Sweatshop" labor?

the local hardware stores suck. Every time I go there they don't have what I'm looking for and the service sucks. Meanwhile, at Home Depot the employees quickly help me with whatever I need

I have had good and bad experiences with both. Lately the Home Depot service has gone way down, it is hard to get someone to help and when you do find someone they haven't a clue. Also, Home Depot is not the vast repository you might think from its size. They carry such a huge assortment of goods, that often I discover they don't carry the one type of good I need. My Home Depot does not carry bricks. They used to carry perlite in the big bag, but they stopped doing that. They don't carry the type of root saw that I like. So I often end up going to the local hardware, nursery or paint store which have a much greater variety.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 PM on December 20, 2004


I feel someone working 40 hours a week as a waiter/cashier/stock boy should have a liveable wage a decent health care plan in the greatest country in the world. Do you disagree with this statement?

It doesn't matter if I disagree with it or not. What matters is reality. I hate hot weather. Nothing I can do about it. And if you do unskilled labor you will have a hard time making ends meet. If you depend on the government you will have problems making ends meet.

For discussion, however, I have a friend who works at walmart and makes 9 bucks an hour. That's about 1400 dollars a month. He's never going to get rich working at walmart, but he has no problem having his own place and making ends meet. He doesn't have a lot of extra money, and apartments here are cheap (400 a month), but he's in school with financial aid. He could complain that he can't buy a house with his walmart paycheck, but instead realizes he has his own future in his own hands.

Besides, I'm pretty well aware that you're only to happy to pipe up loudly against pretty much anything I've said here, so, big surprise that you're popping up here to refute a generalization with your personal experiences.

Fenriq, you're correct in that I disagree with probably every position you have, but considering I post once every few days I doubt I'm popping up on every one of your threads. If you want to take it personally, fine, your choice. I don't.

And let's see, its the only store around? That's nice since they drove the other stores out of business.


There were no gorcery stores in my town fenriq. Again, you're simply talking about things you have no idea about. There were small stores with limited stock. To find a real grocery store you had to drive 20 miles out of your way. And costco? An hour and a half a way. So if I need toilet paper at 8 oclock at night is it ok with you if I go 2 miles up the street instead of making a 3 hours round trip to costco?

Since walmart moved in, other retailers have followed. Is this a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. But this whole cliched "they drove other stores out" simply isn't true.

That's what I don't get about many liberals. Liberals are suppose to be able to understand other's situations. But many don't. Boycott walmart may work for people with more choices, it doesn't work for all. I don't expect people to understand everyone's situation, but it would be nice if they understood that it might be different than yours.

justgary, what do you do for a living?


Well, one, I'm not going to say, and two, it doesn't matter. However, I worked many minimum wage jobs before going back to school. Now I have a job with skills that are very unique (medical field), and unless you have the training, you can't do my job. Therefore, I have a livable wage. It's a feel good story, really.
posted by justgary at 7:28 PM on December 20, 2004


Oh, I'm off to walmart to buy bread and a veggie tray for our christmas party at work tomorrow. Hope everyone forgives me, but everyplace else is closed, unlike the big city ;)
posted by justgary at 7:30 PM on December 20, 2004


It doesn't matter if I disagree with it or not. What matters is reality. I hate hot weather. Nothing I can do about it.

You see, labor laws are like the Sun, and fuck it man, we don't have any control over the Sun.

Moron...
posted by SweetJesus at 7:44 PM on December 20, 2004


justgary,

for future reference, you might not want to complain about people using anecdotal evidence and then talk about your small town. Yes, for you Walmart sounds like a good deal because you didn't have much convenient in your area. So yeah, good job Walmart for bringing you the goods you need.

But I live in the suburban east coast, where we had lots of local great stores and I disagree with the practices of Walmart and the effect it has on the communities. And I'm hardly anti-businees, I love starbucks, Costco, Best Buy, and Barnes and Noble.

I just think Walmart is harmful to our country, just think about the kind of behaviour you encourage then whenever you have a choice.
posted by slapshot57 at 7:45 PM on December 20, 2004


sweetjesus,

I forgot about that point, brilliant.....
posted by slapshot57 at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2004


While in general the market should - and does - set wage levels, human labour is a good like any other, in that it has a cost of production. It is rather hard to argue that the cost of human labour is less than what it costs for the provider of that labour - the employee - to live. By all means, give it your best shot.

Given this, I am not sure that anyone who argues that an employer should be free to pay someone less than the cost-of-living can truly be called an advocate of the free market, however much they would like to insist that is what they are. In doing this, they are arguing that employers should be free to externalize their costs - that someone else should pay for them. Given that the someone else in question usually ends up being the taxpayer, and the same people insisting on this are usually also advocates of less government intervention, well... that is pretty ironic, it has to be said.

If it can be shown that Walmart employees cannot afford everyday necessities and have to fall back on the state - which appears to be the case for things such as health insurance, then Walmart is externalizing those costs. If that is true, then one of two things needs to happen. Either Walmart needs to be forced to pay employees more money - one mechanism for which is the minimum wage - or we need to agree that *all* employers are allowed to externalize those costs. If one of those costs was the cost of healthcare, one ways the latter could be achieved would be government-provided healthcare.

What I don't think you can do, if Walmart is currently externalizing its cost of labour, is just let it keep on doing that. What if everyone does the same?
posted by pascal at 7:54 PM on December 20, 2004


trharlan -

So, are you implying that your taxes DON'T pay for welfare money, medical costs for the uninsured, jails, mandatory rehabs, and the INS? Why exactly would I need to support that with evidence other than the fact that it's true?
posted by kyrademon at 7:56 PM on December 20, 2004


We live in a quasi-socialist republic, not a free-market capitalist democracy.

And if you believe that, you're actually living in a fantasy world.
posted by bshort at 8:03 PM on December 20, 2004


Really? Welfare isn't a socialist program? Medicare? National Highway Grants? FDA drug regulations? Government Funding Housing? Pell Grants? National Endowment for the Arts? If we lived in the free market, the market would take care off all those thing itself. Or it wouldn't, but who knows, because it's never been tried.

England, Canada, Japan - same thing. Most European countries, and a handful of other.

And as for the democracy, if we lived in a democracy, we'd each have a vote on on just about every government decision. We live in a representative republic, where we elect leaders to make those big, hard decisions for us.

What part of that is fantasy, smartass?
posted by SweetJesus at 8:15 PM on December 20, 2004


kyrademon: So, are you implying that your taxes DON'T pay for welfare money, medical costs for the uninsured, jails, mandatory rehabs, and the INS? Why exactly would I need to support that with evidence other than the fact that it's true?

I think your unsupported conjecture was that raising the minimun wage would lower the cost of these. Personally, I'd probably grant welfare and medical cost reduction, but would like to see support for the jail, rehab, and INS cost reductions - they are not obvious to me.


SweetJesus,
I agree we are in a quasi-socialist republic. I wouldn't want to live in a pure free-market capitalist democracy.
posted by Bort at 8:24 PM on December 20, 2004


Bort -

OK, fair enough, and I'll admit I didn't add much support there because I thought the principles were well-known. So, some random support -

The link between poverty and crime:

http://www.cpa.ie/downloads/publications/Submissions/1998_Sub_CrimeForum.pdf

(warning - pdf)

An Irish report which contains references to a number of studies showing the link between poverty and crime. There are plenty more out there.

The link between poverty and drug use:

http://www.vaada.org.au/Poverty%20Inquiry%20Submission%20FINAL.doc

(warning - doc file)

Australian report with references to numerous studies. Admittedly, it does not seek to answer the question as to whether drug use causes poverty, or poverty causes drug use, a subject in some dispute (probably because both are true.)

Illegal immigration is a somewhat separate issue from the minimum wage; rather, I was referring to the fact that businesses offering below minimum-wage jobs (which "Americans do not want" - since they are below minimum wage) to illegal undocumented workers is actually one of the main causative factors of illegal immigration. In states where these practices have been cracked down on from the employer end, rather than the employee end, illegal immigration has dropped considerably. So, I was saying that in addition to upping the minimum wage to liveable levels, it would also reduce real social costs on the populace if these laws were actually enforced, as they frequently aren't right now.

The link between illegal immigration and businesses offering illegal jobs to illegal immigrants:

http://www.cis.org/topics/illegalimmigration.html

The Center for Immigration Studies citing INS reports. Note that American business practices are considered one of the two biggest "magnets" attracting illegal immigrants, and the last paragraph that notes that the government response is almost always border enforcement rather than worksite enforcement (I could go into details as to why and cite more links.)

Are these things really not common knowledge?
posted by kyrademon at 8:52 PM on December 20, 2004


Knowledge is no match for stupid.

Stupid wins every time.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:53 PM on December 20, 2004


(Illegal-but-winked-at American business practices are one of the two big magnets, not the theoretically legal business practices, just to clarify.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:56 PM on December 20, 2004



Really? Welfare isn't a socialist program? Medicare? National Highway Grants? FDA drug regulations? Government Funding Housing? Pell Grants? National Endowment for the Arts? If we lived in the free market, the market would take care off all those thing itself. Or it wouldn't, but who knows, because it's never been tried.
<snip snip>

What part of that is fantasy, smartass?


The part where you completely misunderstand what socialism is. Socialism is where the means of producing and distributing goods is owned by the government or collectively. Government support for the arts does not equal socialism. Education does not equal socialism. And minimum wage does not equal socialism.

Get it straight, asshole.
posted by bshort at 9:23 PM on December 20, 2004


bshort: You Are Wrong. What you are describing is Communism, which is just one form of Socialism. Most socialist systems are not communist.

You would not be the first person to make that mistake though.
posted by pascal at 9:28 PM on December 20, 2004


bshort: You Are Wrong. What you are describing is Communism, which is just one form of Socialism. Most socialist systems are not communist.

You would not be the first person to make that mistake though.


Socialism.

Who's wrong again?
posted by bshort at 9:31 PM on December 20, 2004


justgary: For discussion, however, I have a friend who works at walmart and makes 9 bucks an hour. That's about 1400 dollars a month.

Is this magical friend engaged in tax fraud? Because unless he's got a second job, your friend apparently pays no taxes- since his take home pay would be a lot less than ~$1500 a month.
posted by hincandenza at 9:32 PM on December 20, 2004




ooooooooh, and I had such righteous indignation built up too.

And for the record, we are living in a quasi-socialist society. Read your history books, specifically parts dealing with The New Deal, the GI Bill, The Great Society, etc...
posted by SweetJesus at 9:39 PM on December 20, 2004


bshort: well, I am not going to say you're wrong exactly, but I do think people who would rather get their political history from a dictionary rather than an encyclopedia are at best misguided. Cheers.
posted by pascal at 9:44 PM on December 20, 2004


That's what I don't get about many liberals.

What do "liberals" have to do with this or any of the opinions expressed in this thread? I'm baffled.
posted by juiceCake at 9:51 PM on December 20, 2004


*shrug* I could dig up a heck of a lot of studies showing just the opposite, Bort. The very first google hit on "minimum wage poverty" actually explicitly refutes the work which is the basis of two of your three links:

http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_viewpoints_minwagetestimony

Some quotes:

"[A] review of articles on this topic published over the last 10 years in peer reviewed journals revealed no case in which the increase [of the minimum wage] was associated with significant increases in the poverty rate."

In terms of the works you cite (which, upon reading them, rest on studies far more ambiguous than the authors would have you believe:)

"Neumark et al's recent work on this topic has been raised to cast doubt on this widely held conclusion. In fact, their findings also support the general literature . . . these authors write: 'we also find that the minimum wages tend to boost the incomes of poor families that remain below the poverty line.' Finally, they note that, as regards the question of whether minimum wages lead to an increase in the family poverty rate, they write: 'this estimated net effect is insignificant.'"

Thanks for linking to studies, but I'm not convinced by them - a close reading shows them to be not all that demonstrative.
posted by kyrademon at 9:57 PM on December 20, 2004


What do "liberals" have to do with this or any of the opinions expressed in this thread? I'm baffled.

He's using "liberals" as a code word for "people who think that a government should act in the best interest of its entire population instead of propping up corrupt corporations and conquering foreign regimes." Did I interpret the shorthand correctly?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:17 PM on December 20, 2004


WALMART! WALMART! WALMART!

Sorry, but I missed most of this, and at this late stage of the Vitriol Express, I'm reduced to shouting hoarsely and looking for any leftover canapes.

(But kudos to those who simply stated, 'vote with your dollars'. It may not change the world per se, but money is energy, and you should direct your energy in a manner that agrees with your personal convictions.)

(I have no personal convictions, but I have had a couple of personal arraignments.)

(Hey, is that a canape?)
posted by Darkman at 10:33 PM on December 20, 2004


kyrademon: Thanks for linking to studies, but I'm not convinced by them - a close reading shows them to be not all that demonstrative.

That's understandable - I didn't mean for them to be conclusive. I'm not convinced myself. I've done very little study in this area. My main point, which I admit I should've made explicit, is that it is not obvious that raising the minimum wage reduces poverty, that your links did not provide a link between the 2, and that I was able to find some data that throws some doubt upon your original conjecture that the 2 are correlated.

Anyway, I appreciate the debate - I'm going to look closer into studies about and theories around minimum wage when I get a chance. For now, I need some sleep. :)
posted by Bort at 10:42 PM on December 20, 2004


Night, then. Thanks for an interesting discussion.

. . . Incidentally, though, Bort, I've always tended to think that the debate that's raised with out links about the minimum wage is a bit of a red herring. Most would agree that the minimum wage should not be zero (although I guess some in this thread might not agree even with that, but I'll consider that a fringe economic theory for now), and nor should it be, say, a million dollars an hour. So the real question is, what should the minimum wage be, and why? And short-term effects that occur when a (currently fairly arbitrary) sum is (fairly arbitrarily) raised or lowered really don't tell you much about the long-term effects, costs, and benefits to society, nor what the minimum wage should be linked to.

The most common valid argument I've heard against the "high" minimum wage tends to be the idea of the rapid inflationary spiral - you raise minimum wage, costs of goods go up as a result, so the minimum wage needs to go up again, and soon we're a billion dollars for a loaf of bread and no one's really been helped much. This is indeed possible. The problem is, at the moment this argument has been used while cost of living has been steadily increasing anyway for other reasons, in order to keep the minimum wage relatively stagnant. Instead of staying steady, minimum wage earners are actually sinking. This is, I would argue, a much worse outcome than a (theoretical, potential) inflationary holding pattern.

And even that begs the question, what should the purpose of the minimum wage be? What effect do we want it to serve, and so what should we set it at in terms of cost of living? I think a lot of people here would argue that, in the interests of basic fairness, someone working full time should be earning at least a marginal living at it rather than drowning in an increasing swamp of debt and desperation. In economic terms, that would mean that a full time minimum wage earner should at least be over whatever the poverty line is determined to be - that's pretty much what the poverty line is at least supposed to indicate, after all.

The most common argument against *that* is the globalization argument - that doing so would set the American minimum wage so high compared to that of other countries, especially those with lower costs of living and lax worker protection laws, that all the jobs would vanish overseas except for those whose jobs which cannot be exported.

Of course, that assumes that globalization as currently practiced is a hard fact of life rather than a policy choice, but it's far more the latter than the former in many ways. Benefits for companies employing within the US, punishments for companies that outsource purely for cheaper labor, where tariffs are set, laws about which countries American companies can legally do business, etc., can make things a lot more favorable for companies that choose to give their employees a higher standard of living.

Will that render America unable to compete in "the global marketplace"? Or cause trade imbalance problems? Possibly, and these are also issues that need to be addressed . . . but honestly, I think there's also a lot of evidence that countries that are able to guarantee their workers a high standard of living end up doing quite well in "the global marketplace" as their workforce becomes more educated, more motivated, healthier, less likely to wind up in jail, etc. - all the stuff I brought up earlier that benefits society when standards of living increase for the poorest sector.

So, in a nutshell, I think there's a question of basic economic fairness at the base here, and I don't think it'll destroy our country to implement it, but rather make it, in the long run, stronger.
posted by kyrademon at 11:05 PM on December 20, 2004


"our" not "out in the first sentence, darn it. darn late night typing . . .
posted by kyrademon at 11:10 PM on December 20, 2004


It's inconsequential at this point in the discussion, but I've been to one of those manufacturing town in China, where they make all sorts of cheap plastic and nylon crap for the Wal-Marters, the K-Marters and the Kresgies come out to buy their wares and export them to the U.S. Moving through an emporium of fake flowers, Christmas ornaments (in a country where proselytization is illegal!) and remote-controlled toy trucks this past October, I was fairly nauseated.

Not to commit a faux-pas by self-linking, I did do a little travel-writing on the experience. If anyone's interested in my own pollyanna wankery about how China's using Wal-Mart's techniques to penetrate the American marketplace, see here.

Oh, and State-Owned Chinese National television, CCTV - the English version, at least - could give CNN a run for their money...
posted by vhsiv at 3:11 AM on December 21, 2004


"I am not sure if you work in corporate America, but after looking at your spelling and grammar..."

My first language is C++, where I never seem to make a typo. Go figure :)

"Exactly - because not enough money is better than no money."

So the plan here is it would be better if Wal-Mart employed no one, then the entire burden could "shift" to the taxpayer. There's a good idea! See, Wal-Mart isn't shifting a damn thing. The burden was already 100% on welfare for most of these people, by paying them anything at all Wal-Mart is lifting some of the burden.

Unless you feel that somehow Wal-Mart has the responsibility to wipe out welfare.

"Right - because getting a higher paying job, even with qualifications, is so easy. It is so much better to be underemployed than not employed."

No, it's not easy. That's the point I was making. If your value to the workforce at the moment is the wage Wal-Mart is willing to pay you then I guess that's what you should be doing if you need to. Or you can stay on welfare.

"how do you feel about Wal-Mart's practice of decimating all the retail in a large area?"

Successful competition. I am fine with it.

"6 communities that each used to support their own shopping districts now all serviced by one giant Wal-Mart"

Obviously being served better or they wouldn't have shifted their custom to it. You do get the concept that Wal-Mart does not kidnap customers right?

"cleaned at night by illegal immigrants"

I am all for legal action to force them to comply with the laws on not hiring illegal immigrants.

"Have you ever had to work minimum wage?"

Yes.

"There are times when not working at such a job is better for you than working."

Then don't work there. It's a fairly straightforward decision. Since Wal-Mart is not capable of forcing you to accept it's job/money you are free to not do it. That would be the essential difference between Wal-Mart and slavery for thos ein the thread who can't grasp it.

"to the point where Vlasick loses money on their sales to Walmart but can't stop because Walmart is such a huge chunk of their business"

We lose money on every sale, but we'll make it up in volume!

Sorry, that doesn't make much sense. If they couldn't sell pickles to Wal-Mart at a profit (cutting costs if necessary) thent hey wouldn't do it.

"Soulhuntre, 1016, Rayndists-I've never understood why it is the free market when it corporation strongarm workers, but incipient watery socialism when it workers get together to strongarm corporations."

I don't have a problem in the world with unions. Workers want to unionize and go on strike? That's cool with me.

That is capitalism in action. The problem would come in if the government gets involved (aside from criminal prosecutions of violence etc). Lets say all the Wal-Mart workers unionize and strike - they should be free to do so, and Wal-Mart should be free to fire them all en-mass and hire others.

Let them fight it out.

"How do you all feel about subsidizing a corporation with your tax dollars that arguably hurts communities?"

We aren't. If Wal-Mart wasn't employing these people they woudl be on welfare. So the way I see it Wal-Mart is saving me tax $$$'s. And employing many, many peopel in their suppliers and vendors, and keeping costs down for many families who shop there, thus allowing them to live better.

"I've known people who attempted to act as Wal-Mart suppliers, and the deals that they're forced to accept work basically like consignment."

They were not forced to accept them. They were free to not take the deal.

"What if the value of their labor is so low that 40 hours of it don't add up to covering "basic costs of living"?"

It's called welfare. That's what welfare is, the taxpayer footing the difference between what you are worth to the market and what you cost to keep yourself alive. It's not Wal-Marts fault, and every $ they pay you is one welfare would have had to.

"Did you know that the human head weighs 8lbs?"

Ob Kids in the Hall: "If my head were made of veal..."

"The people saying WalMart's great are the same ones that think a 10% tip is "good enough" and have never worked in the food business."

I have worked in the food business, and I tip what I think someone's effort was worth. That means somewhere between 5% and 25% usually, and more like 50% in some cases if the food was cheap (coffee and a bagel at the local Diner) but the service was good.

"something the average shareholder rarely/never does, so in a fair world, a worker would see a greater reward for their work than a shareholder."

Since it is, by and large, the money invested by the shareholders that allows most of those firms to operate and create jobs I can't see how it is you get this idea.

"Well the local hardware stores suck. Every time I go there they don't have what I'm looking for and the service sucks."

Don't you see? Apparently that's not the point anymore. I gather it is our civic responsibility to keep shopping at stores that suck and charge more. For the people. Oh, and think of the children.

"if we are going to have a minimum wage how about set it at $50/h then we can all be rich!"

I am pretty sure that has, in effect, been the argument all along.
posted by soulhuntre at 6:48 AM on December 21, 2004


Allow me to quote the immortal words of Spider-Man: "With great power comes great responsibility." All I see is Wal-Mart abusing its power and accepting none of the responsibility. We can learn a lot from superheroes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:59 AM on December 21, 2004


soulhuntre -

"'if we are going to have a minimum wage how about set it at $50/h then we can all be rich!' - I am pretty sure that has, in effect, been the argument all along."

I have to admit this kind of irritates me, since I just put up a lengthy post trying to explain some of the reasoning behind, benefits of, and cautionary measures necessary for a just-above-poverty-line minimum wage tied to the cost-of-living index. I don't mind that there's a difference of opinion here, but please don't mischaracterize the views of those who differ from you to make us look like nutjobs.

"'how do you feel about Wal-Mart's practice of decimating all the retail in a large area?' - Successful competition. I am fine with it."

This is just standard capitalism to some extent, true, in so far as they're doing it legally (you, too, came out against their using illegal immigrant labor to undercut the competition.) But I wish more people would remember that many monopolistic practices *are* illegal because they hurt the economy, squelch competition and innovation, and seriously screw up the famous "invisible hand". Anititrust laws don't exist to punish the successful - they exist because monolopolies are bad for business.

I'm aware that Walmart isn't a monopoly (yet), but they are indulging in some monopolistic practices - someone mentioned above that they'll move into an area and open six stores. Cheap! Convenient! And drive everyone else out of business. Then, they vastly lower their overhead by closing all the stores but one megastore. Suddenly, not so convenient anymore. You'd shop closer to home if you could, but there are no other stores now, and since most don't have the vast reserves of capital necessary to open and close stores at will, they're not coming back. This is reasonably equivalent to a big gas company that opens an incredibly cheap gas station, taking a loss on it, drives everyone else out of business, and then raises prices to whatever the heck they want now that no one has any other choice. That's been illegal for quite some time. Choice, innovation, and competition are the fuels that drive the marketplace, after all, and checks to keep a single company from destroying them are necessary - otherwise, down the road, things will neither be cheap, nor convenient, nor open to innovation.

"The burden was already 100% on welfare for most of these people, by paying them anything at all Wal-Mart is lifting some of the burden. Unless you feel that somehow Wal-Mart has the responsibility to wipe out welfare."

No, but it does strike me as odd and unfair that a full-time worker in practically any job doesn't make enoguh to get by. You really like paying higher taxes to take up the slack in Walmart's salaries so that Walmart can make a little more profit?
posted by kyrademon at 9:27 AM on December 21, 2004


Fenriq: Can you explain how Wal-Mart even has any employees if they treat them like such crap? I mean, if working there is not in the employee's best interest, why does s/he even work there in the first place?

Also, why would suppliers sell to Wal-Mart if it's not in their best interest? Nobody is going to sell their widgets for a loss just because it's Wal-Mart.


b_thinky, WalMart gets people who literally have no other options. Work or WalMart for shit pay or starve. WalMart's plan of attack is to enter a town, open up shop, drive the competition out of business and then people have no options on where to work.

Yes, that's simplistic but its pretty much what happens. Can those folks do something else? Sure but only if there are other stores or places to work in.

And you are right that suppliers won't lose money selling to WalMart (though I think it could be reasonably argued that some have accepted short term losses to keep selling into WalMart). What WalMart does is force their suppliers to reduce their costs to keep their margins intact. And that forces manufacturing overseas.

kyrademon's got it right, I think.
posted by fenriq at 10:12 AM on December 21, 2004


The burden was already 100% on welfare for most of these people, by paying them anything at all Wal-Mart is lifting some of the burden. Unless you feel that somehow Wal-Mart has the responsibility to wipe out welfare

I'm not sure how much people understand about the welfare system in the US, but it does not provide benefits to just anyone. The categories of eligible recipients are very limited indeed, and are mostly based on the welfare of children, not the elderly or out-of-work. So Walmart is not picking up costs that would otherwise be associated with welfare.

I'm also not sure why people keep suggesting that there is not such thing as artificially depressed prices. We have this all over in the US: gas, food, housing. Anything for which there is a gov't subsidy has an artificially low price. The point of the second link in the FPP is that Walmart's low prices are artificially low because the burden is shifted to federal, state and local govt to pick up the slack in Walmart's compensation schedules. The first link does a very good job of explaining why keeping labor costs low is the cornerstone of the Walmart business strategy.
posted by OmieWise at 10:29 AM on December 21, 2004


kyrademon: When Wal-Mart closes down all their close, conveniently located stores in favor of the one mega-store, that's the perfect opportunity for the other retailers to move back in. Would you pay a little more for more convenient shopping? Lot's of people do. That's basically what we do by shopping online. We pay shipping costs that increase the overall cost of the transaction, but it's more convenient than driving 2 hours (in my case) to the mall. To me, and millions of others, it's worth it.

When Wal-Mart closes down all but one of their stores (after they've "driven the other retailers out of business") why can't they just jack up their prices? After all, the consumer has no other options.

They don't jack up prices because it wouldn't work. They realize the market is fluid. As soon as Wal-Mart moves out of one neighborhood, another store will pop up to take advantage of the absence of retail in that area. If Wal-Mart was truly the bully described by kyrademon and fenriq then they could literally run everyone out of business and charge $10 for a can of coke. But they can't do that, because people would stop going to Wal-Mart. The market is fluid. As long as retailers are smart enough to realize their competitive advantages, they will stay in business and do quite well.
posted by b_thinky at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2004


Walmart isn't the problem. The problem is people who are conscience-deficient. The minimum wage is not the problem, as Europe shows (high minimum wage; high unemployment). Walmart does improve the economy by forcing suppliers to think up more efficient ways to do things. But it's also not the problem that people get on Walmart's case.

My recommendations: allow Walmart to be Walmart; shop elsewhere if the store offends you; and try to create a more decent society by morality--not by trying to stop a company from getting big and tastless (except when it reaches the point of anti-trust): that doesn't work.

And live in France or Germany for a year or more before deciding the US is a horrible place. We might want the US to get more decent, but we don't want it to turn into a Europe, where the economy is, in effect, in perpetual recession (mild, or otherwise); unemployment is high, and economic creativity often means leaving.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:41 AM on December 21, 2004


b_thinky -

One of my points was that many organizations other than Walmart do not have the wherewithal to open and close stores at will. Doing so requires a significant investment of capital.

You are, of course, right that the market is to a great extent fluid, and, while Walmart can currently get away with a good deal of bait-and-switch, it cannot jack up its prices at will . . . because it is not yet a true monopoly. There are, of course, quite a few stores that have enough capital on hand to open up in a currently Walmart-only neighborhood if they thought they could compete with Walmart on prices.

What I was talking about was the picture down the road, in the long run - once Walmart genuinely has run enough other stores out of business that it really has no competition, then it can pretty much do whatever it wants. Don't believe it'll happen? Look into what the American business landscape tended to look like just prior to the introduction of anti-trust laws. That's why certain practices - including some of the ways Walmart leverages its vast capital to drive other stores out of business - need checks on them.

The fluidity of the marketplace only works so long as there are structures in place to ensure that it remains fluid - otherwise, capital tends to accumulate into large monopolies due to the economics of scale. This can take a while, and factors that work against it (such as innovation, which you reasonably point out, although I question whether the Internet is really practical as a means of buying a bag of Fritos), but certain business practices - usually termed "unfair" - need to be stopped in the present to prevent an economic nightmare in the future.
posted by kyrademon at 11:00 AM on December 21, 2004


(The basic problem is, you can only assume free market fluidity when there's a free market. An unchecked monopoly becomes, essentially, a regulatory agency setting all the rules in favor of itself. A theoretical example:

You live in a place where there's a high demand for pig products. Walmart, with its low, low prices, has driven all the competing pig-stores out of business, and is now a monopoly.

You come up with the ingenious Centralized Hog Technology plan, which will let you undercut Walmart. Brilliant! So you go to BigTime Pigs, the nation's largest Pig Distributor, and try to set up an order for a million cases of hog knuckles. Since you can buy them for more than Walmart does, and sell them for less, due to miracle of CHT, you don't anticipate a problem.

Until BigTime Pigs tells you that, while they'd love to sell you the hog knuckles since they'd make more money doing so, when Walmart was the only game in town BTP was forced to sign a contract saying they'd sell only to Walmart. It was either that or sell nowhere. Going to all the other Pig Distributors, you're told the same thing. Since we're discussing a situation with no antitrust laws, Walmart is in the clear, you're screwed, and the nation is deprived of its low-priced, convenient pig.)
posted by kyrademon at 12:55 PM on December 21, 2004


Casting pearls of wisdom before swine?
posted by Darkman at 2:01 PM on December 21, 2004


"I don't mind that there's a difference of opinion here, but please don't mischaracterize the views of those who differ from you to make us look like nutjobs."

You're right, and I apologize. It isn't universally the argument... but it is the rationale behind a fair percentage of responders IMHO.

"Anititrust laws don't exist to punish the successful - they exist because monolopolies are bad for business."

Wal-Mart isn't a monopoly. Further, the anti-trust laws are fairly often used as the last refuge of failed competitors - not as the last ditch effort they should be.

"Choice, innovation, and competition are the fuels that drive the marketplace, after all, and checks to keep a single company from destroying them are necessary - otherwise, down the road, things will neither be cheap, nor convenient, nor open to innovation."

Wal-Mart making use of economy of scale does not destroy any of those things.

"No, but it does strike me as odd and unfair that a full-time worker in practically any job doesn't make enoguh to get by"

That's where I differ. "Fair" isn't an issue. If their skills are worth it they will get paid more - if not, then not. Artificially pretending their skills are more valuable helps no one.

"You really like paying higher taxes to take up the slack in Walmart's salaries so that Walmart can make a little more profit?"

I am paying LESS taxes then I would be to support all those people if they had no jobs at all.

"Since we're discussing a situation with no antitrust laws, Walmart is in the clear, you're screwed"

No, you start your own pig farms.
posted by soulhuntre at 3:05 AM on December 22, 2004


No, you start your own pig farms.

I'd love to see you go to a potential source of financing for this and tell them your story:
  • (1) You need $X to start competing directly against Walmart;
  • (2) You need approximately $2X to $4X to start pig farms, even though these operations are outside your core competence, because you need to immediately vertically integrate to compete against Walmart;
  • (3) Starting pig farms doesn't mitigate your supply risk because the suppliers you own are still your only source, so you have NO flexibility;
  • (4) For sprawling markets in which Walmart has already squeezed out other pig stores, you face the lovely prospect of having no other pig stores to sell your wares to (lowering your ability to rid yourself of excess stock);
  • (5) If you want to spread your per-store overhead over a larger number of products, you face having to vertically integrate yet again (see (2)).
If you do get the cash, be prepared to spend a much larger chunk of your operating margin on financing costs than Walmart does--even more than the high (say 10% for business risk) interest rate (or RRR) delta--it could easily become 50% of your profits, leaving you with little to invest back into the company and grow, but probably making it seem less attractive (NPV-wise) than municipal bonds.

It's not that competing against Walmart can't be profitable in the operations--it can. What can't be competed against is the big steamrolling, low-cost ball of financing capital that Walmart has built up that makes undertaking the enterprise (operationgs and financing for those operations) unprofitable and new competitors unlikely to materialize.
posted by bafflegab at 6:40 AM on December 22, 2004


A little late, but to clear up a few misconceptions.

for future reference, you might not want to complain about people using anecdotal evidence and then talk about your small town.

You've lost me. This has nothing to do with anecdotal evidence. It has to do someone talking about something they know nothing about.

If someone lives in detroit, and says walmart is bad, fine. I've never been to detroit. I'll take their word for it. But if I say walmart has been good for my town, don't tell me they drove away business because you simply don't know You might as well be talking about mars.

But to say walmart has not been evil in some towns doesn't fit in with some people's world ideas. It doesn't make sense when they've got it all figured out. It's like throwing a wrench in all their good vs. evil ideas, and they just can't accept it.

Is this magical friend engaged in tax fraud? Because unless he's got a second job, your friend apparently pays no taxes- since his take home pay would be a lot less than ~$1500 a month.
posted by hincandenza


You're correct hincandenza, I forgot about taxes. Still, my point was that people actually live on a walmart salary in some cases, and the point stands. And since your lone comment on this topic was to talk about my magical friend perhaps you should try to find a magical hobby.

He's using "liberals" as a code word for "people who think that a government should act in the best interest of its entire population instead of propping up corrupt corporations and conquering foreign regimes." Did I interpret the shorthand correctly?
posted by Faint of Butt


Actually no. I meant liberal in the sense of most on the left consider themselves openminded to other people's ways of life. They would think of conservatives as being the generalizing type.

And here we have liberals believing that walmart is bad for them, so it must be bad for me, though they don't know me nor where I live.

Next time instead of assuming, because you know what that leads to, and putting words in my mouth, just email me and I'll set you straight.
posted by justgary at 6:26 PM on January 18, 2005


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