WalMart… still evil

An article I read recently, sadly, didn\’t surprise me.

It\’s a long article, but definitely worth reading.  The quotes from internal memos, especially the Human Resource VP, are especially chilling.

There seem to be two fundamental forces at play here.  The first is Wall Street.  The second is the desire for cheap stuff to buy.   

When you combine those two, what WalMart is doing makes sense.  In a purely capitalist system, the purpose of the business is to make money.  To continue to make money and keep their stock price high WalMart needs to not only keep its profits at high levels, it needs to grow those profits; and when you\’re as big as WalMart, one of the few options for profit growth is cost cutting (because you certainly aren\’t going to raise your prices!).  As the article states, the company is simply applying the correct business strategy to align their workforce more productively to lower costs and maximize profit.

Simple right?

Not really.  Beyond the obvious, what stuck me as I read that article is that WalMart has created a 21st century version of the \”company town\”.  The means of battling a company town 100 years ago was \”voice and exit.\”  Employees could engage in collective action through strikes, and joining a union, or through individual actions such as quitting and moving to a better location.  But WalMart has done a terrific job avoiding that by creating a system where the only place their employees can afford to shop is WalMart, limiting the \”exit\”.  They are also effective at eliminating \”trouble makers\” (like those pesky Unions), and avoiding \”voice\”. 

What is left is for the rest of us to utilize those same tools.  So all I ask is for you to think, before you shop at WalMart. 







3 responses to “WalMart… still evil”

  1. anderswa Avatar

    ooh, wadE throws down a little al hirschman. and i thought i was the only closet social scientist here. 🙂

    left to its own devices, for-profit corporations will utilize its resources it whatever manner possible in order to maximize profits. and you can’t really blame them– there is no IRS-approved write-off for altruism. unions are imperfect, but they would probably help in this case. however, given the desperation by many for employment (especially in a lot of the areas where wal marts are prevalent), any worker thinking about organizing would likely be tossed out on his/her ample keister and replaced before the day is through.

  2. wadE Avatar

    Stephen Colbert had Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) who has written a book about companies who have closed their domestic manufacturing operations and outsourced the jobs overseas where countries like China only pay 30 cents an hour, and how that it is impossible for the US to compete with that.
    Colbert brings up my point of how much we like to buy cheap stuff here in the US…

  3. alex Avatar

    Yeah you guys wouldn’t know anything about wanting to buy cheap stuff and/or maximizing what you get for your money. 😉

    I keeed, I keeed. Jedi.

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