Skip to comments.Wal-Mart Is Right
Posted on 05/02/2006 11:56:46 PM PDT by Joe Bfstplk
Wal-Mart is the only corporation in the world that I know of or have ever heard of that is hated because it is successful. What do these critics want Wal-Mart to do? Fail? Start selling $300 shirts like Saks Fifth Avenue?
Of course, some of the hatred is coming from unions, which have tried but, so far as I know, failed to unionize Wal-Mart's work force. That one thing tells you that it must be a much better deal to work for Wal-Mart than its critics let on. Some of the disdain comes from leftist snobs who think they should run the lives of the peasants who work and shop there.
I am a small-town guy who has hated to see so many locally owned small businesses go under, but that's not Wal-Mart's fault. That trend started years ago with suburban sprawl (a major contributor to the energy crisis, by the way), suburban shopping malls, strip malls and all the other discounters that preceded Wal-Mart in prominence. It was caused by the American public's preference to buy based on price, rather than on service or quality. It was caused by local politicians converting the National Defense Highway System (the interstates) into suburban and urban commuter systems by routing them through instead of around the cities.
Wal-Mart is one of the best-run corporations in the world. The individual consumer has no clout with suppliers and manufacturers. Wal-Mart uses its enormous buying clout to get consumers the best price at the best quality possible. Being a supplier to Wal-Mart is no picnic, as the company is quite demanding.
It's not Wal-Mart's fault that much of its merchandise is manufactured in China. The late Sam Walton went to extraordinary lengths to help American manufacturers, but Wal-Mart doesn't control any corporation except itself. The move to China is not coming from Wal-Mart, but from greedy manufacturing corporations that love cheap and controlled labor. If your competitor is selling an American brand-name product made in China cheaper than you can buy one here, and if the customer says, "I don't care where it's made as long as I can afford it," what are you going to do?
More recently, Wal-Mart has been slammed for not providing what its critics think it should in the way of medical insurance. Well, why is General Motors flirting with bankruptcy? Why is Ford Motor Co. in financial trouble? Why, for that matter, is the federal government in financial trouble? The stinking hag in this room that everyone is ignoring is the high cost of medical service.
You can't provide low-cost health care or low-cost medical insurance for a system run by millionaire doctors and six-figure hospital administrators, and that has 1,200 percent profit margins for drugs and medical devices. The health-industry attitude is, we'll profiteer like crazy, and you people find a way to pay us. If Congress were not a bought-and-paid-for whore, America could join the rest of the industrialized world with a reasonable health-care system.
Health-care costs are one of the key factors in making American manufacturers uncompetitive. Now that the state of Maryland has presumed to dictate what kind of benefits Wal-Mart provides, if I ran the company, I'd close every store in the state and put the property up for sale. This is just one more ploy in the anti-Wal-Mart crusade.
We have reached a sick and perverted point in our culture when honesty and success bring attacks, mainly from people who either don't know what they are talking about or have a hidden agenda.
Millions of Americans who earn low wages from other employers rely on Wal-Mart to help them stretch their family budget. Wal-Mart has kept faith with those people. I've never found a dirty store, a rude employee or a defective product in a Wal-Mart store.
If you prefer to pay more than something's worth in exchange for some phony ambience or fancy label, go right ahead. In the meantime, get off Wal-Mart's back. It's one of the few entities in this country that is doing the right thing the right way for the right reasons.
But look at the high correlation between genius and insanity. Who cares. Since we are on the subject of Wal-Mart, I once saw a clip of Sam Walton, on lifestyles of the rich and famous, attempting to load his hunting dogs in his truck, he was the richest man in America at the time.
America is a great place.
Yep, ole Sam was a folksy type. Oddly, more people remember him in his pickup than in his Gulfstream.
Yes, America is a great place.
No, unions exist to allow workers to excersize their collective power to bargain for better wages, treatment, etc.
Unions don't set non-union wages and make up a minority of
wage earners in America. So, since unions were not part of the discussion until now, I must assume you have their perspective out of whack and at least a mild bias against them coming into the argument.
As for what is reasonable or unreasonable, that is determined by the market. If GM could not afford to pay the wages, they would not be paid - union or no union. Simple as that. So, your beef isn't with unions, it is with supply and demand. And no real surprise there. The entire effort consisting of the use of foreign labor, illegal immigrant labor, And imported Visa based fraud labor has been one of trying to undermine supply and demand by undermining the local market with those sources. That seems to be why these big three attacks + free trade seem so loved by the ethically challenged in the GOP and Dim party and why America is screaming about it to deaf politicians. Ya'll don't like supply and demand and to cover for your own failings, you attack us and say we don't like Capitalism. You lie about us to hide your own shortcomings. Unfortunately for you, everyone sees through it.
So, again, your opinion on what "sounds reasonable" by way of wages, is useless. The market decides it, not you. You aren't happy with the market and supply and demand and have opted toward breaking both using unpatriotic and subversive methods. And that may lead to war.
Corporations don't run themselves. And I'm sorry; but, they do owe loyalty to their home country. These mega Corporations get to be huge and forget that their size is directly proportional to the land that allowed them the opportunity to be what they are. You guys whine about how employees are "unloyal" to companies. The fact is companies today are unloyal to employees, country, stockholders, etc on down the line. The only loyalty they seem to have is to money. And that is a deep character flaw. Greed is, afterall, an addiction - a disease. And Greedy people behave after the fashion of addicts, thus the modern seperation of business and morals as understood to exist in the constitution via penumbra as it were and only through the eyewear of the Greedy..
Companies exist to make profit, And guns exist to kill people. Right back to the same hollow argument. Didn't take you long.
Ford was pretty ok. It is only in the mind's eye of the current generation of addicts to money and strangers to ethics that ford is wierd or nuts. That isn't an indictment of them in other words, it's an indictment of you.
Keep nursing that inferiority complex and let us know when you actually say something.
Wow, fortunately I've never been indicted before...
In honor of the occaison I'll offer some absolutely free advice:
In the new global economy, few will be saved. Whatever isn't of use is tossed overboard. And those waiting for the large forces of commerce and politics to realign in their favor will be sadly disappointed at best. At worst, they're become the victims of demagogues and hucksters.
That is if you have it your way and last long enough to see it . Given the volatile nature of the issue, I wouldn't be placing any bets. The south thought that way about slavery.
Oh yeah, in regards to Ford. The guy paid to have the Protocols of the Elders of Zion reprinted in the U.S. and even included it with some cars. His newspaper, the Dearborn Indpendent, was completely off the wall...
Look, I wish the world was the way you want it to be, but it isn't. And, like everyone else, I have to deal with the reality. I'm just some guy trying to make myself of some value in the world.
Unions are not part of the discussion and haven't been. They get dragged in because businesses don't like unions by and large - and neither do elitist, ivory towere republicans. Unions have good and bad effects. That is due to the people involved, not the concept. So spare us. You have a bias and don't like supply and demand when it brings about something you don't like. Simple. GM doesn't pay people not to work. GM Contracts with people for work and they have a provision for layoffs and downtime as a protection for the worker. If you don't like that, too bad. That is what the market decided - unmolested by your tinkering.
Collective bargaining is part of the market dynamic. GM and the employees agreed on employee compensation and benefits.
That is a market dynamic. You can handwring; but, if you want to claim it isn't, then no contract agreed to by anyone is "fair" even if they both agreed to it. Doesn't quite pass the sniff test..
You don't like supply and demand and to cover for that, your side invokes the strawman that the majority doesn't like capitalism. That's why they stopped polling on the issue. When the numbers approached 70%, they refused to do anything about it and just decided to be silent rather than debate the issue publically (offshoring/freetrade) and present the image of obstinance that would have been and now has been generated. Just as with Illegal immigration, the people spoke to the servants and the servants said "up yours". People aren't buying the bs lines and you guys are increasingly agitated over that fact.. Get used to it. It's gonna get a lot hotter while the frog changes place with the politicians.
Yep, it's a values thing. And the world is what we make of it. If you make it unfair, it will be unfair - but not because 'it's just that way.' I deal with reality too. We all do. And the reality is that a lot of people are sick of the 'shut up and take it' attitude as well as the servants telling the boss how it's gonna be. You wanna sail your ship, the way it's going, don't be surprised when the mutiny hits. The GOP is doing it's level best to be a minority party or a non-existant one. And if it keeps losing people in numbers like it is, the paybacks coming will be pretty awful.
In 1900, 41 percent of the U.S. labor force was employed in agriculture. Now, only two percent of today's labor force works in agricultural jobs. If declining employment is used as a gauge of an industry's health, agriculture is America's sickest industry.
Let's not stop with agriculture. In 1970, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 workers in good-paying jobs as switchboard operators. Today, the telecommunications industry employs only 78,000 operators. That's a tremendous 80 percent job loss. What happened to all those agriculture and switchboard operator jobs? Were they exported to China and India by rapacious businessmen?
The easy and correct answer is that our agricultural sector has seen massive gains in productivity as a result of advances in farm machinery, innovation and technology. There have also been spectacular advances in telecommunications. In 1970, those 421,000 switchboard operators annually handled 9.8 billion long-distance calls. Now 100 billion long-distance calls a year require only 78,000 switchboard operators. What's more is, the cost of making a long-distance call is a fraction of what it was in 1970.
Here's my question to you: Should Congress do something to restore all of those jobs lost in agriculture and telecommunications, and what might that something be?
The tremendous gains in productivity seen in agriculture, telecommunications and some other industries have benefited the manufacturing industry as well. According to David Huether, chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. manufacturers are producing and exporting more goods than ever before. While manufacturing output easily outpaces the larger U.S. economy, manufacturing employment, at 14.2 million, is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.
How do we reconcile lower manufacturing employment with rising manufacturing output? In his April 3, 2006, BusinessWeek article, "The Case of the Missing Jobs," Huether says, "Since 2001, with the aid of computers, telecommunications advances, and ever more efficient plant operations, U.S. manufacturing productivity, or the amount of goods or services a worker produces in an hour, has soared a dizzying 24 percent. That's 72 percent faster than the average productivity advance during America's four most recent recession-recovery cycles dating back to the 1970s. In short: We're making more stuff with fewer people." That means rapid economic growth doesn't translate into the kind of manufacturing job creation of earlier periods.
How about the claim that our manufacturing jobs are going to China? The fact of business is, since 2000, China has lost 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, compared with the loss of 3.1 million in the U.S.
Job loss is the trend among the top 10 manufacturing countries who produce 75 percent of the world's manufacturing output (the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, Britain, France, Italy, Korea, Canada and Mexico). Only Italy has managed not to lose factory jobs since 2000.
Economist Joseph Schumpeter referred to this process witnessed in market economies as "creative destruction," where technology and innovation destroy some jobs while creating others. While the process works hardships on some, any attempt to impede the process will make all of us worse off.
Imagine for a moment that technology hadn't destroyed most of the jobs of those 41 percent of Americans working in agriculture in 1900. Where in the world would we have gotten the manpower to make all those goods produced now that weren't even imagined in 1900? Jobs destroyed through the market forces of creative destruction make us all better off, and that applies also to job destruction that comes from peaceable, voluntary exchange with people in different cities, states and countries.
Looks like manufacturing is healthy. I bet you would have been one of those fellows lamenting the lack of good hay-hauling jobs circa 1925 too?
Thanks for the info. I'll have to do some googling later on.
Of course not that, but would a "Made In America Boutique" be below them? The shoppers who say they would pay twice to get American would have an opportunity to vote with their wallets.
Perhaps your reply should be to 3catsanadog. That's who brought up the Wal-Mart/Costco questions.
And, well, I didn't choose 20 years because Costco wasn't publicly traded 20 years ago. Five years is a long time in the stock market. It was an arbitrary pick. I could have picked one year.
Well, there are no Wal-Marts near me, so I'll cede to your first hand knowledge that Wal-Mart customers have been swamping the customer service counter demanding cheaper lawn sprinklers. I had no idea.
Your statement that "US manufacturing output keeps rising, albeit with fewer workers due to large productivity increases" is difficult for me to respond to, because there are multiple measures of manufacturing output. Please provide a reference for your statements. I like facts.
One fact I can share - in my business I've spent over two decades working with closing manufacturing plants. I've seen an incredible diversity of plants close - automotive, abrasives, primary aluminum production, pulp and paper, battery manufacturing, ship building, parts, chemical manufacturing, forest products, semiconductor...
The list goes on. Manufacturing in the U.S. is declining. There's no question of that in my mind. I've walked too many ghostly hulks where previously thousands of Americans worked and supported their families.
It's very sad.
And it's getting worse.
Havoc post #90
"I find it simply amazing that it doesn't bother you all when Companies are unpatriotic. Again, all that matters to your crowd is the profit - oh, and maybe once in a while saying whatever you must for sake of public opinion."
Havoc post #114
"Yep, it's a values thing. ... don't be surprised when the mutiny hits."
So, if I understand your position; Walmart is "bad" because of "moral failings" and "unpatriotic" behavior. Examples of this being (1) their not offering employees more generous pay and/or medical insurance coverage and (2) their marketing of products produced in China (where workers are coerced to work for wages that are "immorally" low).
Is this an accurate description of your position? I've offered "your position" with "specific examples" on your behalf as you ignored my request that you do it for yourself. If it's erroneous, please correct.
I'm not aware of anything that Walmart does that I would consider immoral or unpatriotic. And I'm not saying that for any reason other than that I believe it.
If you do believe that Walmart is under-compensating its employees, but concede that they do pay above the minimum wage as defined by state and federal statutes; please help me understand how you reach such a conclusion.
I've worked at (and below) the legal minimum wage, but have never felt cheated as long as I was paid that which was agreed upon in advance. I have been undercompensated by employers; where I was in fact paid less than was promised. I considered that practice to be immoral, and would consider it immoral for Walmart to do the same. I'm not aware of any such behavior on their part.
In regard to their "unpatriotic" behavior of selling products that are produced in China; I'm not aware of a company that's a major retail distributor that doesn't sell Chinese made products. Are all such companies that sell Chinese made products unpatriotic? Can you list a few companies for me that don't sell Chinese made products? Can you explain what it is about Walmart's marketing of Chinese products that is unpatriotic?
By the way, I do agree that the Chinese government does behave in an immoral manner in some of their practices that do result in the underpayment and nonpayment of workers. There have recently been numerous cases of suicide among construction workers that were shamed and humiliated by such practices. This behavior by the Chinese government is immoral, and I believe it's unpatriotic, on their part.
And again; I am interested in your opinion of the existence of "immoral and unpatriotic" behavior by Walmart; but unless you can give a specific example of such behavior, there's not much else I can say about it.