There have lately been a number of blogs concerning Wal-Mart.
As a codicil I should mention that I am married to a much younger, beautiful and intelligent wife – who is a raving far-left liberal. Myself, I range between far-left liberal and centrist libertarian, and my perspective of any situation is usually tempered by pragmatic reality.
In my wife’s view Wal-Mart is the great Satan; but, we often risk our immortal souls and shop there.
We live on a small retirement income that is just above the poverty line, so we budget our expenditures and shop at Wal-Mart to save money. I drink wine (sometimes in quantity) and we buy Carlos Rossi by the gallon for our wine of the table. At Wal-Mart a gallon of wine will cost me twelve dollars, while at the local grocery store it is fifteen. Can goods are, on the average, fifteen cents a can cheaper. We buy paper products, bird food, house wares, ink-cartridges for my printer, hardware, etc. all at considerable savings
The biggest complaints I usually hear from my wife is that Wal-Mart buys its products from
pays its workers. This is undoubtedly
true, but, if you bother to check your clothing labels from any store from L.L.
Beans to Nordstrom you will find that much of it (if not most) is made in third
world countries. Wal-Mart is doing what
every other store is doing, but perhaps purchasing the cheapest of the cheap, and
passing the savings on the consumer while still making huge profit. China
A friend of mine works at Wal-Mart making ten dollars and fifty cents an hour for a four p.m. to eleven p.m. shift. He is fifty years old and did not complete high school. Until two years ago he worked seasonally as a manual laborer for a construction company that paid him ten dollars an hour. He is legally blind in one eye and now suffering with medical problems. Realistically, if we did not have a Wal-Mart here - where could he find employment?
This type of employment has always been here: in the textile mills of the north-east and the farm lands of the South people have worked long hours for low pay. Today, just like Burger King, Pizza Hut, Duncan Doughnuts, gas stations and many local stores in this area, Wal-Mart doesn't pay a living wage or offer benefits. They do, however, offer employment to many people who would otherwise be unemployed.
So we need to be careful what we wish for – change is always a double edged sword. If Wal-Mart bought and sold American products and offer full time employment and a living wage, most of the people who work there would no longer have a job, and Wal-Mart products would be too expensive for most of us to afford.
Could Wal-Mart change its business plan and be more humanitarian? Yes.
Will it cut its profits and pay smaller dividends to its investors in order to offer more benefits to its employees? No
This doesn't mean that Wal-Mart workers shouldn't ask for better pay and benefits – and I support their strike.
But, sometimes you have to dance with the devil.