Friday, April 11, 2008

A little more on Walmart

Here are few more thoughts about Walmart.

First, Senator Clinton (the one running for president) has some past ties to Walmart. That’s not going to play well with the traditional union base in the party. On the other hand, if she manages to come up with a legitimate national health insurance program, Walmart might actually hire a few full-time employees (not having to pay for health benefits and all).

Second, I understand that there are a lot of people who pay the rent on a Walmart paycheck and a lot of others who survive because they can actually afford to buy the stuff at Walmart. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich offers an interesting perspective on working at the bottom rung of the corporate structure. She worked at a Minnesota Walmart and could have had a better experience.

Third, have you ever taken a really close look at the stuff on sale there? I challenge you to find a non-food product that was made in the United States. Here’s the high price of low cost conundrum: A widget made here by unionized workers making $15 an hour retails at Walmart for $5. The person who made that widget would have to work 20 minutes to buy it retail. The same widget made in China retails for $3 at Walmart. Meanwhile, the now former union worker is forced to take a job at – you guessed it – Walmart for minimum wage. At the federal minimum wage of $5.85, that same person now has to work more than half and hour to buy the same widget. That equation does not even take into account potential disparities in quality between the domestic and foreign widgets or income taxes.

Finally, I still have to shop there. Once our local Walmart added the grocery store, the family-owned grocery went out of business for good.


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