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  • Wal Mart

    Your tax dollars are subsidizing part of those low, low prices.

    I'm not sure if this has come up in here before, but I really don't like Wal-Mart. Their economic practices are not sustainable, and they are overtly and systematically unfair to every party involved in their business - the governments, the taxpayers, the customers, the employees, the communities that surround their stores, the producers and of course the actual factory workers. The corporate model has changed from what once was an honest American business (that initially focused on the sale of American goods) to an abominable corporate behemoth that is structured around two goals - low prices and high profits (using the rationale that increasing profits will help drive prices down).

    I finally got around to watching "Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Price." It actually was a bad documentary, I thought. The hour-long Frontline entitled "Is Wal Mart Good For America." (link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl.../walmart/view/) was far better in terms of asking intelligent questions, and you can watch it for free online. "High Cost" played out as one sob story after another, and felt like an activist film - biased. One only needs to see the facts to get the picture.

    Wal-Mart's corporate strategy is not sustainable at any level, and is poisoning the economy by privately controlled external forces on the American retail market. Their principles of holding workers to low wages, no overtime, systemic anti-union measures and insistence that their workers are better off relying on state and federal assistance for health care and even food stamps does nothing to better lives of the people they claim to care about the most.

    I urge people to take a look at this situation, judge for themselves, and make their concerns known to their federal and state politicians. Run a google news search on Wal Mart and read the headlines it turns up. One story after another of record profits intermixed with court cases and studies on the employers impact on federal and state health care systems.

    ** disclaimer - I realize that Wal Mart is not the only big-box game in town, but they are by far the largest, richest and most powerful of all. They are #1. This is why I'm picking on them. Leaders should set an example instead of constantly lowering the bar, doing whatever they can to stay on top.

  • #2
    Re: Wal Mart

    I remember reading an article somewhere from a reputable source that it is guaranteed that general crime rates rise noticably around areas where Wal-Marts are built. As I can't find the article, I cannot back up this claim, only that it's not just an economics issue. I'll leave any further fact finding for the reader.

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    • #3
      Re: Wal Mart

      Fenix - the "High Cost" documentary picked up on this and many other injustices of Wal Mart's policies. They do not pay for or support any means of protecting their customers outside their doors. Criminals have picked up on this.

      Interestingly, the only stores that have camera equipment are ones that received the "$25,000 anti-union surveillance package." That's their term. No joke.

      In their defense, however, one must take into account that this is the largest retail chain in America, so of course their crime rates will be higher than 'normal.' Some of the literature and court cases pertaining to crimes in their parking lots, however, do indicate an almost total lack of concern for the customer.

      I tried to be general in my description, and focused on what I think is the biggest threat posed by the Wal Mart model - the effect on economy and government assistance programs. This effects everyone - not just Wal Mart shoppers.

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      • #4
        Re: Wal Mart

        I don't understand the threat you are trying to explain or what is unsustainable... or do I have to see the movie you are referencing?

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        • #5
          Re: Wal Mart

          Originally posted by AMosely
          I'm not sure if this has come up in here before, but I really don't like Wal-Mart.
          Neither do I.

          Their economic practices are not sustainable, and they are overtly and systematically unfair to every party involved in their business - the governments, the taxpayers, the customers, the employees, the communities that surround their stores, the producers and of course the actual factory workers.
          Even though I agree, it is unfair, I disagree that it is not sustainable. Walmart's practice is to keep costs low, often causing manufacturers to run into the red, to price out any percieved competition to WalMart. And everyone does it because so many people go to WalMart that they make it up in volume.

          The corporate model has changed from what once was an honest American business (that initially focused on the sale of American goods) to an abominable corporate behemoth that is structured around two goals - low prices and high profits (using the rationale that increasing profits will help drive prices down).
          Ummmm, there was never anything "nice" about Sam Walton. He designed the whole system, looking for every loophole he could to grow the chain.

          Wal-Mart's corporate strategy is not sustainable at any level, and is poisoning the economy by privately controlled external forces on the American retail market.
          Fact: people don't care if the practices are corrupt-they want a price that fits their over-indebted budget. As such, as long as people wheel their Explorers, F150s, and SUVs up to the WalMart door, the model is sustainable over the long term.

          Their principles of holding workers to low wages, no overtime, systemic anti-union measures and insistence that their workers are better off relying on state and federal assistance for health care and even food stamps does nothing to better lives of the people they claim to care about the most.
          There is a difference between good marketing and good business. Good marketing means you wrap yourself in a flag to the dulcet tunes of Garth Brooks while raping suppliers in the warehouse.

          Good business means that they stay under the part-time employee rules that the Federal Government established so that they don't have to provide benefits. WalMart is just one of many companies to take advantage of that loophole. Good luck trying to change it.

          As for anti-union.....I can see that as the norm going forward. Noone in corporate boardrooms see the unions as a positive-they see it as a way to prevent management from competing in modern business markets.

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          • #6
            Re: Wal Mart

            ^^^^Guys what exactly is wrong with Walmart aside from them treating there employees like garbage.

            When I first started for training at BB the managers doing the training always compared us to Walmart in how not to do things.
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            • #7
              Re: Wal Mart

              The unsustainable argument is just a theory. It could be wrong. I'll try to explain why I think it's correct.

              Cheap goods (aka 'low prices, always') alone don't make an economy work, in fact, they can have the reverse effect by creating unhealthy and unrealistic dependencies in both the suppliers and the consumers. Because of their immense size and the fact that they have all but total control of their suppliers and distribution network, Wal Mart's impact runs deeper into the economy than all of their competitors (what is left of them) combined. They have the power to change the market based on their retail decisions. These factors fall outside the realm of traditional economic principles involving economies of scale. It's a new system for which there is no reliable formula to predict outcome.

              Economists and business writers are trying to grapple with it, there are several books on the subject. I haven't read them, but my understanding is they all question this model and generally find it destructive to the underlying forces that traditionally drive the consumer economy.

              On the conspiracy side of the house, Wal Mart may already realize that this model harnesses an amazing amount of power and control over society - perhaps they have already began to pitch themselves as an ally of the government?

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              • #8
                Re: Wal Mart

                Originally posted by RGM-79N_GM_CUstom
                ^^^^Guys what exactly is wrong with Walmart aside from them treating there employees like garbage.

                When I first started for training at BB the managers doing the training always compared us to Walmart in how not to do things.
                WalMart is a smart business: that's what has everyone upset.

                I think that the majority of people sleepwalk through life, completely oblivious to what is going on. Then something like WalMart comes around: what Sweatshop labor still exists? They use kids? We can't get health insurance benefits if we work <30hours? The umbrage!

                Close the loopholes, and they will walk the line. Otherwise, they will continue to operate their business as they need to, pushing retail prices ever lower until they put everyone else out of business.

                And there is NOTHING wrong with that. You can't compete with them on price, so differentiate. Target has done well with this strategy.

                Interestingly: Target has many of the same employee practices, and yet they don't get the same level of hate. Is that something "classist?", or a matter of taste?

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                • #9
                  Re: Wal Mart

                  Originally posted by RGM-79N_GM_CUstom
                  Guys what exactly is wrong with Walmart aside from them treating there employees like garbage.
                  Anyone asking this question should go watch the Frontline documentary online, or at least read through the content. I think it's good, objective journalism, and the documentary tries to answer the question "Is Wal Mart Good for America?"
                  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl.../walmart/view/

                  If you prefer 90 minutes of grievances, watch the 2005 film "Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Price."

                  Or just look at wakeupwalmart: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/

                  Again, I realize lots of corporations take to practices like these (unfair labor practices, unfair business practices) - but none of them are anywhere near as big as Wal Mart nor do they have the potential to impact the economy so profoundly. I'm only pointing this out for discussion purposes as something to keep an eye on - both Wal Mart and the changing economy. I'll stop posting to the thread because that's all I really have to say about it.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Wal Mart

                    Originally posted by AMosely
                    Cheap goods (aka 'low prices, always') alone don't make an economy work, in fact, they can have the reverse effect by creating unhealthy and unrealistic dependencies in both the suppliers and the consumers. Because of their immense size and the fact that they have all but total control of their suppliers and distribution network, Wal Mart's impact runs deeper into the economy than all of their competitors (what is left of them) combined. They have the power to change the market based on their retail decisions. These factors fall outside the realm of traditional economic principles involving economies of scale. It's a new system for which there is no reliable formula to predict outcome.
                    Let's look at the business model.

                    WalMart controls the entire process from the manufacturer's door, to the cashier. The economies of scale are driven by consumer demand, not by the whim of WalMart. If they see a product they need, they find someone to provide it. If it doesn't sell, then they move on to another product.

                    There is nothing in that model that is not within the basic laws of economics. It's supply and demand. Customers buy a product, the manufacturer stays in business, WalMart acting as the vendor or middle man. Consumers don't by the product, the manufacturer folds. That's capitalism baby.

                    Economists and business writers are trying to grapple with it, there are several books on the subject. I haven't read them, but my understanding is they all question this model and generally find it destructive to the underlying forces that traditionally drive the consumer economy.
                    What they are trying to grapple with is the basic inequities of our market. The "traditional model" of consumer economics folded 15 years ago when we became a nation of credit card debt holders.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Wal Mart

                      Target is more willing to play ball with suppliers (especially locally) and they offer much fairer benefit practices. I'm not sure what their union policy is, but it's friendly enough to the union establishment that they can operate freely in the NYC area. Wal-Mart cannot.
                      Originally posted by TG_Mateo
                      As for anti-union.....I can see that as the norm going forward. Noone in corporate boardrooms see the unions as a positive-they see it as a way to prevent management from competing in modern business markets.
                      This is where free-market capitalism will begin to break from American nationalism. Part of what makes the system we enjoy so valuable IS the high quality of worker compensation. Of course we can't easily compete with overseas markets where the working class is kept in perpetual poverty. The question is, do we need or want to if that means giving up the social protections we enjoy today?
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                      • #12
                        Re: Wal Mart

                        This is an amusing, but interesting, contribution to this thread:

                        JibJab's Big Box Mart

                        Hope you like JibJab movies!
                        Diplomacy is the art of saying "good doggie" while looking for a bigger stick.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Wal Mart

                          Originally posted by TG_Mateo
                          What they are trying to grapple with is the basic inequities of our market. The "traditional model" of consumer economics folded 15 years ago when we became a nation of credit card debt holders.
                          Very good point - American consumer debt is a bigger problem than Wal Mart.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Wal Mart

                            Wal mart has one of the best, most efficient supply chains in the world, which they own as much of as they conceivably can. Consolidating to single stores rather than having the specialized inventory at several smaller stores also helps. It's not unsustainable. It is the obvious conclusion, they just had the inspiration and the elbow grease to pull it off. It is the latest stage in the evolution that began with supermarkets, then department stores and shopping malls.

                            I'm not blind to the effects of wal-mart. When Wal-Mart opened a super center (you know, the whole shebang including grocery store) in Rome, NY, which has a population of 30,000, it was noticed. Within a few months dozens of stores had closed down, an entire strip mall gutted, and "The Living Bridge", a landmark building with stores and such that spanned over the main throughfare, was also closed and torn down. The biggest chain of grocery stores in the area is also teetering on bankruptcy. But why do I care? Instead of having a lot of small shops with high prices, there's one big shop with lower prices. I know they have the goods, I know they can be trusted, I know they have the best price around.

                            But it's best summed up in the South Park episode, "Something Wall-mart[sic] This Way Comes", which is easily one of the best in the series.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Wal Mart

                              Wal Mart is known for their cheap prices but no selection, which is the same everywhere else
                              XBOX GT: STEALTH C4T

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