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Author Topic: Walmart, Great or Pure Evil?
krynn
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I read the other day that a town petitioned to not have a Walmart added becuase it would outprice every local family-owned shop. that made sense to me at first, but later i looked up movie prices for x-mas gifts and saw that every movie was on average about 8 dollars cheaper at walmart. pretty much everything is cheaper at a Walmart, especially the Super Walmart in the shopping plaza of my job. and the more i go in there just to look around, the more i really notice how much cheaper everything is. so i was wondering if anyone had any strong opinions either way, good or bad, about walmart.
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MandyM
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I hate to say it but I love Wal-mart. They have the best prices anywhere and, although it is sad, gone are the days of small mom and pop places is small towns. In the small town I live in, there is no Wal-mart but there are no more mom and pop places anymore either, which means I have to drive to the next town to buy anything.
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Raia
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I hate Walmart.

But...

It's all we have here. [Wall Bash]

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Avadaru
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I agree with Mandy. I hate the fact that I go to Walmart so often, but I'm a poor college kid and they really do have the best prices. Were it possible, I'd buy all my groceries at the Whole Foods that just opened in my city. My budget just won't permit it. [Frown]
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R. Ann Dryden
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I hate it. Which doesn't stop me from shopping there almost exclusively. Sigh. The perils of super tight budgets.
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Teshi
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I wish they'd improve their decor.
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pH
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I'm a college student. Wal-mart is my life.

Although, apparently not so much in Chciago.

Oh, and in New Orleans, there was also a petition to stop a Wal-mart from being built on Tchoupitoulas, very close to Uptown, for those same reasons. Before that, the only way to get to Wal-mart was to drive out to the next parish.

It was built anyway. And it's much prettier and cleaner than the Jefferson Parish Wal-mart. They made an effort to make the building match the city.

-pH

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kmbboots
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Great in the short term. Until they have run all the smaller enterprises out of town and people have fewer choices about both where to shop and about where to work.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:
Were it possible, I'd buy all my groceries at the Whole Foods that just opened in my city.
Whole Foods has its own issues, I'd almost rather send you to a Wal-Mart. Neither of them are evil, but they both put the growth of the company before the health of the employees.

[ October 25, 2005, 09:21 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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ketchupqueen
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I don't shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club unless there is NO OTHER CHOICE (like we're in the middle of nowhere and it's the ONLY store and we desperately need diapers or menstrual pads and absolutely can't wait or something.)
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Avadaru
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quote:
Whole Foods has its own issues, I'd almost rather send you to a Wal-Mart. Neither of them are evil, but they could both put the growth of the company before the health of the employees.
I agree, but I try (when I can afford it) to only buy free-range and organic meats/dairy/eggs/etc, and there isn't any other place in town that gives me that option. Whole Foods carries all the things that I feel guilty about buying in a regular grocery.
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IrishAphrodite19
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http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/stores3.html

Last year, I made it a point not to shop at Wal-mart. I would drive the extra 5 minutes to get to some any other store and that the extra 10 minutes to explain to my friends why we had to go to Store B when Wal-mart was "right there" and so much cheaper.

However, this year, like Avadaru, I have given in to being a college student and reverted back to the Wal-mart. Grr.

~Irish

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blacwolve
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I shop at Target, we have both, and I like Target much better anyway, so why not? I fail to see why everyone goes to Walmart when Target is so much nicer and cleaner and just overall better.
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ketchupqueen
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I love Target. And we have 4 Targets within easy driving distance here, whereas I'd have to drive about 35 miles to find a Wal-Mart.
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ketchupqueen
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(But I shopped at Target instead even when Target was 10 minutes away and Wal-Mart was literally right across the street. Just to make that clear. [Wink] )
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romanylass
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There have been a few other threads on this, so a search....

My short answer, Wal-Mart is evil, and I won't go there even if that means doing without.

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SteveRogers
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Someone is a copier. I made two or three threads about the evil that is Wal-Mart. But I'm too lazy to link to them. Sorry folks!
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advice for robots
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Walmart has that particularly useful quality of being open past 6 pm, which is when I'm finally free to go to the store. Most smaller stores in town close about the time I get off work. I couldn't bring my business to them if I wanted to.

Walmart does affect local economies pretty severely, but I can't really see mom and pop stores disappearing altogether. There will always be a place for higher quality and specialty shopping that Walmart can't be bothered with. If the old mom and pop places close down, new ones will eventually open that are better positioned to stay on their feet in the new playing field. And business owners defeated by Walmart, if they still want to run businesses, will regroup and find success again.

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whiskysunrise
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I shop at Walmart because I like them, they are cheap and I can get just about everything in one stop.
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Zeugma
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It seems to me that a lot of people see opposition to Walmart simply as an effort to save "Mom and Pop" stores. That's not really the case. Walmart's negative effects on our society go way deeper than just edging out the local competition.

Simply put, Walmart takes a very heavy-handed and effective approach with manufacturers in order to keep prices low. They state a price, and the manufacturer must do whatever it takes to produce goods at that price, or be dropped from the shelves, effectively killing their US market. Inevitably, in order to meet these "always low prices", the manufacturers are forced to lower the quality of the product, and ship the labor overseas, where they don't have to pay for silly things like safe working conditions, environmental regulations, insurance, or fair wages.

And so, one-by-one, American factories are being shut down, and all the employees laid off. Chances are, they'll find themselves applying for their next job in the service sector... maybe even Walmart, the nation's largest employer! Against which case after case of unfair wages, hours, and employee discrimination have been filed.

But hey, who needs a decent job when you can buy a pair of Levi's for $16, anyhow?

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Zemra
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Zeugma, I totally agree with you. I was just about to put that when I saw your post. I am glad that there are other people out there that feel the way I do [Wall Bash] .
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Zeugma
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Woo! Rock on, Ze-buddy! [Big Grin]
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johnsonweed
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Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart...

All get me what I need in a fashion that fits my budget. I don't give the rest much thought. Should I? Why?

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Mariann
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Like a lot of people said, sometimes Wal-mart is a necessary evil.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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Necessary is a big word. I mean, abortion isn't even a necessary evil.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I'm against Target for no other reason than their "trendy" commercials.
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Irami Osei-Frimpong:
Necessary is a big word. I mean, abortion isn't even a necessary evil.

Not necessary for YOU, maybe.
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Zeugma
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quote:
Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart...

All get me what I need in a fashion that fits my budget. I don't give the rest much thought. Should I? Why?

Johnsonweed, what sort of work do you do? The kind that could easily be done by someone in China working for less than a tenth of what you make?

I feel like a lot of the "so what?" attitude that I see from people who choose to shop at Walmart is because, hey, they don't work in a factory! They aren't in danger of seeing their jobs shipped overseas! But of course, when powerful companies like Walmart make it so simple to increase profits by off-shoring labor, other companies are quick to follow suit.

Does your job consist primarily of sitting in a cubicle, typing away at a computer and/or answering the phone? Well, India is full of bright folks who can do exactly the same thing you do, with a lot more enthusiasm and a lot less money. Unless your career requires that you be in person in the same room as customer or client, on US soil, then chances are it could shipped overseas. For cheap!

I'm entering about as white-collar a field as you can get, computer animation, and for all I know I'm going to have to move to Singapore in 10 years just to find a job.

And yeah, Walmart doesn't have anything directly to do with most of the white-collar jobs that are being sent overseas, but I don't think you'd have to dig deep to find that the offshoring-friendly legislation they help push through impacts all sorts of jobs in the US.

By not shopping at Walmart, I'm saying that I give a damn about my brothers and sisters in blue-collar America, who find themselves starting new careers mopping up aisle 5 because they weren't 10 times better at making jeans than their Chinese counterparts. I care.

Because I know that might be me some day.

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human_2.0
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Walmart is evil. They pay their employees like nothing. That doesn't sound so bad except.... Walmart has one of the world's most sophisticated satellite networks flying overhead, way up high... Do they have money or what?!
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breyerchic04
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The worst evil, they tore down my elementary school to build a super walmart, half a mile from the old one, why not just tear it down and replace it!
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TomDavidson
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Christy and I don't shop at WalMart. Ever. She does like to shop at Target, which I basically consider WalMart with a better logo, but I feel guilty about it.
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CRash
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Evil Walmart. I totally relate to that South Park episode parodying Walmart...

Destroying America's factories. Ick. And for some odd reason, I always get a headache when I go to a Walmart. It's a cursed store.

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CRash
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Oh, and have you heard that WalMart is going to start offering not only medicine, but in-store medical consultations? I can only imagine the high quality of those.
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JemmyGrove
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I have farmer relatives on my mom's side of the family, and they are all pretty serious about the damage Wal-Mart can do to a community. If conversation turns to Wal-Mart, my uncle will likely be found describing how Wal-Mart will move into a small community, put all the competition out of business by undercutting prices, which then puts other workers out of business, and eventually pretty much sucks the economy dry. He's pretty adamant about it.

I'm not saying I entirely endorse this point of view, I'm just putting it forward as the observations (opinions) of someone I know who deals with supply and demand on a large enough scale to feel personally the effects of corporate business.

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Marlozhan
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I'm still undecided about the whole Wal-Mart argument since I like both sides of the argument. However, since this thread seems to have little evidence supporting Wal-Mart, I thought I would include this article.

Some excerpts:
quote:
Suppose Sam Walton had spent his life as a farmer, and Wal-Mart never existed. Would baggers at Winn-Dixie and shelf-stockers at Costco be making a living wage and have great benefits? Would Kmart have avoided bankruptcy? Would small grocery stores in small-town downtowns be thriving? The answer to all three questions is likely no. More likely is that other companies would have married discounting—which existed before Wal-Mart—to free trade, weakening unions, and better technology.


quote:
How about you, for one? After all, Wal-Mart is a mere pass-through for its customers—one that takes a slim margin for the trouble. At Wal-Mart, the customer is king, everyone else be damned: competitors, employees, and the domestic manufacturing base. Everything Wal-Mart does—particularly its low prices—is done in the name of slavish devotion to consumer demand. And every day, millions of Americans ratify Wal-Mart's strategy by shopping there. Stores don't kill economies, consumers do.



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erosomniac
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quote:
Johnsonweed, what sort of work do you do? The kind that could easily be done by someone in China working for less than a tenth of what you make?

I feel like a lot of the "so what?" attitude that I see from people who choose to shop at Walmart is because, hey, they don't work in a factory! They aren't in danger of seeing their jobs shipped overseas! But of course, when powerful companies like Walmart make it so simple to increase profits by off-shoring labor, other companies are quick to follow suit.

The solution is simple: encourage legislation that makes U.S. companies responsible for paying a U.S. minimum wage to their workers regardless of where they're located. Good luck ever making that happen, though, since this thread is a good representation of the effort Americans are willing to put forth to effect a change: lots of people saying "I hate Walmart, but I shop there anyway...but at least I feel a bit guilty about it!"

quote:
Unless your career requires that you be in person in the same room as customer or client, on US soil, then chances are it could shipped overseas. For cheap!
Not if the language barrier remains where it is.

1) Tech support. Tech support has now been outsourced so heavily to India that I can't remember the last time that I spoke to someone without an unintelligible Indian accent, except with Comcast. I don't purchase products from companies that I know use outsourced tech support, not because I support businesses that keep it "home grown," but because I hate dealing with people that I don't understand and can't understand me. I value companies that have tech support and customer care systems where I feel like I"m valued: Indian outsourced tech support has never, in my experience, been anything but a person navigating a map.

2) Webdesign. I freelance webdesign as a secondary source of income, and I know at least a handful of you do it as a profession. 100% of my business is generated through word of mouth, and not because my design is superior: it isn't. I'm about as mediocre a designer as they come. I'm not the pinnacle of web efficiency, I know next to nothing about back end programming, I'm not an especially gifted graphic artist, and I use outdated coding software. People refer others to me because I translate what they want into the finished product, clearly and concisely. We're able to bounce ideas and results back and forth more or less painlessly. I can effortlessly translate the seemingly impenetrable world of online marketing and webdesign into layman's terms, and back.

There are thousands of people in India eager to jump on the webdesign market. I recently tried posting on craigslist to find someone to do some back-end work for a client of mine*, and about 4/5 of the responses I got were from Indians looking for work that completely misunderstood what I was looking for. Sure, they were willing to do it for dirt cheap, but why would I want to subject myself to the nightmarish communication involved?

3) Newegg. 100% home grown, baby, and their customers are so loyal it hurts. Their products are never the cheapest, but people come back again and again because the service is right.

My point is this: all you have to do to secure your job against outsourcing to a foreign country is make yourself valuable in a way that can't be replicated by a foreigner. The easiest way I can think of is to exploit the language barrier. I'm sure you can think of others.

*That job is still open, if any of you are familiar with Geeklog, or a system similar enough to get what I want done accomplished. E-mail me. Please. Pretty please.

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erosomniac
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quote:
Stores don't kill economies, consumers do.
Amen.
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sarcasticmuppet
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Walmart does not have everything. There are a great many things that Walmart just does not provide, and there is plenty of market for these things for the small busnesses to fill up. Service is a great big huge one. If small businesses are only successful because of lack of competition, then they need to improve or die if a Walmart comes into town.

Most of the patterns I see involve Walmart moving into a building in the middle of some nowhere city plot, drawing a huge amount of business, then seeing *Small Businesses* build up *around the Walmart* to take advantage of the people traffic. But then, I'm from Arkansas. I have a pet theory that Walmarts become worse in quality the farther you get from Bentonville -- I once remarked that no wonder Californians hated Walmart, the ones they had were terrible in comparison to the ones I was used to.

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aspectre
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Workers at CostCo make over 150% of the hourly wages of comparable Wal*Mart workers.
I think well over: certainly enough so that CostCo can be considered to be paying a decent living wage. Wal*Mart does not pay the overwhelming majority of its employees anything close to a living wage.
CostCo employees are covered by medical and dental insurance, amd the overwhelming majority of Wal*Mart workers are not.
Instead, the Wal*Mart human resources department trains those employees to take advantage of the welfare system to make up for the shortfall in wages&benefits.

CostCo employees are eligible for a retirement benefits package, the overwhelming majority of Walmart employees are not.

Same with Target in comparison to Wal*Mart, though I don't think that Target's wage&benefits package is as high as CostCo's.

[ October 26, 2005, 03:25 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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pH
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According to a friend of mine, Wal-mart does give benefits to its employees. I have no idea about the wages, though, and I'm sure that varies with the region.

And not only does Wal-mart not offer some services/products, but also there are plenty of things that I would not feel comfortable getting at Wal-mart.

For example, I would not want a Wal-mart eye exam. However, I WOULD order my contact lenses from Wal-mart.

-pH

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aspectre
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No, only a minority of Wal*mart employees are eligible for benefits. And only a minority of Wal*mart employees are paid living wages. Your friend is talking of that minority; which Wal*Mart likes to brag about in their advertisements.
Wal*Mart's treatment of the overwhelming majority of its employees is swept under the corporate rug.

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erosomniac
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What are we defining "living wages" as? Because in my mind, "living wages" is "minimum wage."

Unless you live in Hawaii. *shudder*

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jd2cly60
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Walmart is neither Great nor evil.

In a way, yes Walmart is the prime example of 'vulture economics' where they suck as much money out of a community (and to Fayetteville) as possible while putting back in as little possible through low wages.

On the other hand, many more small towns have been hurt more by refusing a Walmart, only to find Walmart settles for their second choice location fifteen miles away and immediately siphons off a much greater proportion of their town's income as a big majority of the local populace converts to shopping at the WalMart in the adjacent community (which benefits from the added tax revenue as well as larger amounts of human traffic drawn into their community)

Cabool, MO, at the junction of two US highways, is a classic example of this. WalMart wanted a supercenter there, the community defeated it and saw Walmarts go in fifteen miles to the east and twenty miles to the North on the respective highways. The town (a locus for a thriving farm community) floundered for many years as it felt an almost immediate vaccuum in local commerce. It has managed to stay afloat and rebound but just barely.

Both Whole Paycheck and Target are just more expensive variations on the Walmart approach.

Whole Foods is especially annoying with their produce approach of pricing conventional produce almost the same as the organic, making it pointless to shop for everyday produce there unless you want to quadruple or quintuple your fresh produce bill. Whole Foods is successful for applying the WalMart system to organic foods and turning it into a booming business. Whole Foods is advantageous for informing us where the heck our meat comes from and what it ate (free range pastured beef from new Zealand, I feel safe about eating liver from those beasts, can't say the same for the local wal-mart or latino-mart mystery beef, both of which are especially unappetizing choices after reading Fast Food Nation).

Target is an imitation walmart but the prices are higher so people don't think it is as evil (I've never quite understood this logic). I guess just add one rung up to the bourgeousie status ladder means a lot to many people, but it makes me feel like Anse Bundren and his family (see if I throw in an As I Lay Dying reference it shows how clever and sophisticated and elite I am, much better than a mere Dickens reference. [Razz] )

On the other hand I could argue Wal Mart is great, I can get real fermented kimchi, LIVING FOOD, at any walmart in america, that wasn't true even a few years ago, and I might add their kimchi costs a third of the gouged price whole foods charges. I can get a huge selection of any movie from the past twenty years. I can get art supplies, clothing, fishing and hunting supplies while my car is serviced and shop for toys, toiletries, pet sundries and if in a supercenter do my grocery shopping too. WalMart is very intelligent, it is convenience it saves the individual money in the short run (which is as far as the average individual thinks).

If you really wanted to affect a revolution in american commerce that would benefit local communities long term as well as improve the health of the nation (hopefully) it would be to reduce the amount of distance our food and sundries travel to get to us. Europe is experimenting with this right now to some success. Historically many communities subsisted on their own, thank god we don't have to do that anymore, but do we really need all our food to travel 3000 miles to get to us (and the expense in oil and energy that incurs) when 30 or 300 may suffice?

I think more could be accomplished by assembling a community behind an inititive to provide locally (and safely) raised dairy, cattle, chicken, fruits and vegetable into public school cafeterias than a misplaced community outrage against WalMart. REAL FOOD rather than shoveling exclusively processed crap down their throats that is nutritionally empty (oh it fits the guidelines which were bought and paid for by lobbyists, science and nutrition be damned). This would benefit small farmers, the children's health, the local community, there are really no downsides to supplementing a large part of school meals with real and local food. But since those companies manufacturing the crud we feed our kids make lots of money off schools you can be sure we'll never see such a sensible solution come to fruition.

My biggest problem with Wal Mart is not the many egregious issues brought up here, but the fact that a herd of cattle meant for Wal Mart that grazes outside my hometown will be shipped halfway across the country and back before some small percentage of it arrives at our WalMart, probably in the form of ground beef. That's frustrating.

[ October 26, 2005, 06:01 AM: Message edited by: jd2cly60 ]

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aspectre
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Minimum wage was a living wage, back in 1968 when it was equivalent to 40hours of work at $7.18 per hour in 2003dollars. Minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation in the cost of living since then, it's now equivalent to about $5.00 in 2003dollars.
And there is a heavier tax load on minimum wage now, with the greatly increased SocialSecurity and Medicare deductions from the paycheck being used to cover general fund spending.

Add that Wal*Mart doesn't pay 40hours of wages to most of its workers; preferring to keep them in the status of "part time" workers while essentially expecting them to be on standby for the entire time that the employees' own store is open.

CostCo's lowest paid worker receives $10 per hour, including those who work less than full time.
After the evaluation period, they receive medical, dental, and retirement benefits.

Wal*Mart pays minimum wage to its lowest paid workers.
With no benefits to those "part time" workers, which describes most of its employees.
A full time Wal*Mart cashier makes $7 per hour to start, which is lower than CostCo's lowest paid employee.
And Wal*Marts benefits package is worth significantly less than CostCo's.

A full-time Wal*Mart cashier earns $12 per hour after five years: a yearly income of $24thousand per year.
$25thousand if the cashier takes no time off.
A full-time CostCo cashier earns around $40thousand per year in wages and bonuses after 4&1/2 years.

[ October 26, 2005, 06:26 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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krynn
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wow, i would have never thought that a thread i started would get so many replies so quickly. i just saw that there were 43 replies. i definently dont have time to read them all before i leave for work in a few min, but it looks like a lot of ppl are in the same boat with me. We would like to go to nice smaller shops, its just that we are poor and walmart is all we can afford! im really enjoying reading these, especially the ones that are telling ppl to not shop at walmart; that is what im trying to justify and still cant.
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MandyM
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Marlozhan thanks for the link to that article! My husband was so interested in this thread that he is now writing a paper for his English class about it. He was having trouble coming up with a topic for his persuasive paper since he later has to turn it into a research paper. Walmart is his second home.

Aspectre, I am not trying to be antagonistic or anything but, I am wondering where you are getting your information. It seems to me that working at Walmart is on par with working at McDonald's. It is a low-paying, part-time job. It is not a lifetime career that should offer full benefits and a pension after 30 days. Like, McD's there is likely a pretty high turnover, which accounts for the long wait before benefits are given. I know other "good" companies who do this for the same reason. Also Walmart is hiring unskilled workers with little job training because that is what the job requires. Generally people with job skills get better paying jobs (unless you are a professional athlete or an actor).

I agree that the minimum wage in this country is far from a living wage but that is not Walmart's fault. You say that workers at Costco make upwards of 40K a year and that Walmart employees should as well (and customers pay a premium to shop there; Walmart is free). Do you have any idea what teachers make a year? I am a teacher. I have a college degree. I would not be what one would call unskilled labor. Yet I make considerably less than a Costco employee and I have been teaching for eight years. I think it is outrageous to suggest that people who stand at a cash register and stock shelves should make more money that those who educate our children. The government, especially in Texas is doing little to increase teacher salary. The state minimum in Texas is $24,820, well below what most consider a living wage. So are you going to stop sending your children to school in protest of low teacher's wages? I don't think so.

Walmart offers low prices for decent products that I need anyway. I will take my pitiful paycheck and spend it there.

Sorry for my rant. I am not trying to start an argument or anything.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:
It is not a lifetime career that should offer full benefits and a pension after 30 days.
That's where we disagree. I think a full-time worker at Walmart should be able to buy a little house and support his/her family.
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human_2.0
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Walmart isn't the same as McDonalds. I don't know why.

The thing that gets me, if they have one of the worlds most advanced sattelite networks, why can't they pay their employees better?!?!

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Zeugma
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Heh, Mandy, see, the thing is, it's easy to say that Walmart is just a job for teenagers and college students who don't need to support a family. Because people who need decent wages so they can feed and clothe their kids, they shouldn't be working at Walmart! They should be working.... at..... like, a factory or something!
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zgator
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Irami and Zeugma, do you think there should be some sort of upper limit on unskilled positions? I agree that someone who works as a cashier, stocker, etc. should be able to make a decent wage, but there is a limit to how good you can get at a job like that. At some point, it doesn't make sense to continue to raise someone's salary (beyond cost of living) when they are no longer providing additional benefit to the company.
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