Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Walmart

Check out the Sunday Oregonian. Some stats:

-Walmart saved the average american household $2300, not $830 like I previously thought.
-they employ 1.6 million people
-average hourly wage $11.52
-profit per employee $11039

compare that to Costco:

-average hourly wage $15.97
-profit per employee $13647

not to mention Costco contributes $2000 more than Walmart does to employee health care ($5735 compared to $3500) and 82% of their employees are covered compared to 47% of Walmart employees.

So apparantly you can pay higher wages give health benefits and still increase profitability.

Does anybody care?

It's easy to make a point either way with statistics...

For instance according to the department of labor, women make on average 34 cents an hour less than men in identical positions.

In October of 2003 federal agents searched 60 stores in 21 states and picked up over 250 illegal immigrants working for as little as $2 a day. This follows similar searches in 2000 and 1998 with identical results. (AP)

There are currently lawsuits pending in 25 states, including Minnesota, charging that Wal-Mart systematically deprived employees of overtime pay. In the first case to go to trial, in December 2002, a federal jury in Portland, Oregon, unanimously ruled that Wal-Mart was guilty of withholding overtime pay at its 18 stores in the state.(AP)

I think we're both on the same page here. Walmart, for the most part, is bad.

I just find it fascinating for a variety of reasons: the hatred it inspires, the business practices it has adopted to grow into the largest employer in the US, the amount of influence it has in all areas of society.

Until people value things other than money, Walmart will continue to thrive. People continue to patronize Walmart because if it's low prices, so Walmart continues to grow, move into new communities, drive out local businesses by undercutting their prices, and forcing people to be employed there. The solution? Don't shop there. But the lure of low prices is too much for most to resist.

Moreover, it is easy to apply economic principles to non-economic areas of life, but it is much harder to quantify the effects. What about the ugliness of a Walmart with a huge parking lot, plunked down in the middle of Main St, USA? The traffic congestion? The destruction of local culture (I'm not a huge fan of this argument, but I know a lot of people like it)?

So yeah, Walmart is bad. But it's still fascinating. And it has some positive effects, such as saving people money.

That's all.
True story.
Think of it this way. Two ends of every burrito, and even if you prefer one end, you'll still have to eat the other one sooner or later...
All this talk about Walmart's deleterious effects and no mention of the heinous fashions perpetrated on the eyes of the public in the name of low prices?

I think your missing a big part of Walmart's badness.
But I come from a place where "bad" means "good". Like, "that Michael Jordan, he's so bad". So I'm not sure what you mean.
I'm not too sure, but I think you were using COSTCO as an example of a buisness that is somehow better than Wal-Mart. Truth is COSTCO is just as terrible at destroying local economies as Wal-mart. The vast majority of Americans are short sighted and fail to see the big picture. Low prices come at a very high long term cost. Anyway, how is COSTCO's big box any nicer to look at than the big W?
it doesn't have that stupid smiley face on it?
What about the families that can't afford to buy elsewhere when Wal-Mart or Costco are their only choices? Politics don't mean squat when you are broke or pinching pennies and have kids to feed and clothe.

What's the average wage of bike store employees? What about commissions? Does that enter into the equation? What kind of benefits do they have?
I hope walmart will work to provide health insurance for employees as they deserve coverage.
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