How Wal-Mart Is Re-Making Our World

Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 15:58:16 -0600 Central Daylight Time


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Subject: RE: How Wal-Mart Is Remaking Our World

From:Date:Mon, 29 Apr 2002 15:58:16 -0600 Central Daylight Time

Hello to all:

Thanks to Mr. Wilson for this posting of the site link on this about corporate control of our lives; this excerpt notes:

"Of the 10 richest people in the world, five are Waltons - the ruling family of the Wal-Mart empire. S. Robson Walton is ranked by London's "Rich List 2001" as the wealthiest human on the planet, having sacked up more than $65 billion (45.3 billion) in personal wealth and topping Bill Gates as No. 1. . . ".

You'd never know this, for example, from the state of Arkansas's economy. Wal-Mart recently offered to donate "matching funds" to Uof Arkansas, based in Fayetteville. BUT only if someone else--some other corporation--would match their funds. In other words, even though Wal-Mart has money to burn, higher education in Arkansas won't get it unless someone else matches Wal-Mart's donation.

Arkansas--Wal-Mart's home state and base of operations, as well as Walton's home state--also remains near the bottom in most kinds of economic and social statistics. And going to work for Wal-Mart is not exactly something that pulls low-income Arkansans out of poverty.

On the plus side, Wal-Mart has done some innovative things, there's no doubt about it, in the field of retailing. "Year 'round low prices" and such things as factoring in ahead of time those things that could lower prices on individual transactions, and using a common-sense application of those factors to prices in general, is a positive, or potentially positive, action.

So is the concept of using "lowly" store employees as models in the stores' weekly and monthly printed ads. This has a "commoner" quality to it, that probably has rattled some stuffed (no pun intended )-shirt, class-conscious, glamour girl-conscious elites around the world. Wal-Mart has specialized, too, in "convenience shopping" and the idea of "one stop shopping". Give the consumer what they need, WHERE they need it, not just WHEN they need it.

Wal-Mart also has succeeded because it happened onto the phenomenon of the Working Mom, and has exploited it just the right way. Instead of continuing to "play like" the nuclear family, with Dad as the provider and Mom as a secondary or non-income, is still dominant in US culture, Wal-Mart has caught the trend that plays to "moms on the way home" or "moms on a break" or "moms on the way to work." It is the moms--those working moms--who put them over.

Target and some other stores have also caught this latter phenomenon, at least to an extent, which also helps explains the latter's success.

But all these stores--and most especially super-successful Wal-Mart--can be especially faulted for the exploitation of labor in which they've been engaged for decades.

One of the last persons to see the money that these huge chains make, for example, is the person on the store sales floor that makes that money for the chain--that is, the store employee.

For, though these are multi-billion dollar a year incomes we're dealing with here, and though the execs are the best-paid in the "universe", the low-level store employees are paid the lowest minimum wages possible. And not only the hourly wage, but the number of hours the employees are allotted, is miniscule. Full-time, 40-hour-a-week jobs are unheard-of below upper or middle-management levels. And (admittedly as with many other fields) benefits are virtually non-existent in several important-to-crucial categories of health and medical insurance and retirement. (Even many supervisory personnel in these chains are only part-time.)

Indeed, the corporate chain stores are always trying to find some new gimmick to get a tax cut for what little percentage of their income goes to low-level employee salaries. They also constantly look for fertile new ground for ever-cheaper wages, incluing hiring minors who can be paid as little as possible--even a sub-minimum wage in some states.

They generally backed Reagan in the '80s, for example. And one legacy of Reagan was the longest period of time in US history (six years) without an increase in the Minimum Wage (since such records have been kept).

Arkansas, even after eight years of Bill Clinton in the White House to "look after it", still is just struggling along economically. Even the conservative Huckaby administration here in Little Rock has repeatedly asked the Feds for help. Arkansas still leads only Mississippi in several important categories. Arkansas did manage to come up slightly over the years, with the help of decades-long Wilbur Mills House seniority and finally eight years of Clinton.

But, as with the poor masses in the Arab nations, a wealthy elite holds most of the financial resources of Arkansas.. Just as one can see massive dire poverty in Saudi Arabia--a nation that otherwise boasts some of the world's highest incomes--one can also see poverty all over Wal-Mart's home state.

Arkansas has in past years had a decent mental health care system that has gradually been dismantled since the 1980s and the budget cuts that came in their wake in all states. And Arkansas, unlike numerous other relatively poor states, still has a sales tax on food, one of the most regressive and unkind taxes in the world. A recent effort to abolish that tax seems doomed to failure, however, since no one--such as Wal-Mart--seems willing to fill the income gap by backing a fair state income tax that takes from the multi-national, multi-billion-dollar chains at the same level--or even at a remotely similar level--to that at which it takes from the poorest of the poor--the employees of those chains, and Arkansans in general. Best,

Max Standridge

----- Original Message -----

From: Dave Wilson --

To: -- Subject: How Wal-Mart Is Remaking Our World--

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 22:49:30


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