Saturday, December 17, 2005

I've Been Writing, Just Not Here . . .I'm Writing Here Now Though, And I Ain't Happy

Aaron over at Treasure State Judaism had a post a day or two ago about Wal-Mart and I just had to open my big trap. Go check it out and be sure to read the comments by yours truly.

I read Aaron regularly, he's smart, and I like his style, I may not agree with him all the time but at least he can carry on an intelligent discussion, but saying that the fact that Wal-Mart is a legal business somehow exalts it from all accusations is ludicrous. Like I said, Aaron is smart, and I see where he's coming from, but the foam eminating from my mouth at this moment leaves me with a few things of my own to say. They're more about morals and principles than legality however, enjoy.

While companies like Wally World may indeed not break any laws per se, just because something's legal, that doesn't make it right.

Making gigundus profits and paying your employees as little as possible may be legal, but is it right?

It's perfectly legal for some dimwit to spill their coffee in their lap and then sue the person that sold them the coffee for negligence, but does that make it right?

It's quite legal for me to shoot your flea bitten dog if it ventures onto my property, even if your kids are standing there watching, but does that mean that it's right?

It's absolutely legal to stand by and yell insults at a group of soldiers being greeted by their families at an airport because you don't agree with the war they've been fighting or the politicians that sent them there, but does that make it right?

It's definitely legal for some clumsy lard ass to trip over the "Caution: Wet Floor" sign in the aforementioned Wal-Mart store, bust their big butt, and sue the store, but does that make it right?

Caution: Cussing Alert, Repeat, This Is Not A Family Appropriate Post! This blogger has just quit playing nice for a minute! Do not read this if you find crude language offensive! Please scroll past the following text if you donate to any TV evangelist programs! Please get the hell off my blog if you donate to any TV evangelist programs, I only want intelligent people here! I repeat:


Did I make myself perfectly clear?

I can legally post on this here blog that whoever the person is that commented and therefore soiled Aaron's quality blog by the name of "wolfpack" who doesn't even have the balls to put anything in his profile except for a phony name just so he can post bullshit on good blogs because he isn't smart enough to start his own likely because he's so busy running his successful business and fucking his help, is a cheap assed tightwad motherfucker that should be drug out into the street and beaten by his own employees, but would that be right?

You goddam right it would be, and if I find out what your business is you tiny minded little bitch I will personally hand deliver a copy of what you posted there to each and every one of your employees, as well as make damn sure that it's common knowledge around Great Falls. And I don't give a flying fuck if it's legal or not, because some things that happen to be illegal, ARE right. Hopefully that will solve your staffing woes. I'm your worst nightmare asshole, Working Class White Trash on the internet, straight from my trailer to the whole goddam world in an instant and I'm not the only one, not by a long shot. Fuck with us at your peril.

Start a business that's a one man show, pay yourself whatever you want, lock the doors on a moment's notice if you want. As soon as you take on employees you have a responsibility to those people. They trust you whether you think it's a fucking joke or not. They base their hopes and dreams on the illusion of security that you've provided them, if you reward their loyalty you'll reap the benefits tenfold. Defy that trust and may your legs grow together and your ass sprout boils while you sleep. People like you are the reason that this country will never be great again, it's run by a bunch of selfish little bitches that think that working people are their own private pawns.

History has shown that companies that treat their people the best, do the best in the long run. People are waking up to that fact, and when enough of them finally do I pity you, I really do. You may not get rich quick doing right by your employees, but you can damn sure live comfortable and you won't make near as many enemies. People will only put up with this use it up and throw it away attitude about labor for so long, it's happened before, it's like a natural ebb and flow in the labor market and it will turn back the other way eventually. Which side do you want to be on when it does dipshit? Employees will work harder for an employer that treats them fairly, in other words it's a two way street asshole, you scratch our backs we'll scratch yours, you need us just as much as we need you. Is your goody two shoes ass gonna flip your own damn burgers or slop out the grease trap? We can do your job. There isn't a damn one of us that couldn't handle driving around in one of your new cars spending your cash, maybe that's what we should do when we're done kicking your ass. I always wanted to drive that new truck that I bought you fucker, gimme the keys or I'll hit you again.

I hope you're OK with the idea of a young kid with a kid of his own trying to make a living working 80 hours a week at two or three of the horseshit jobs that you provide because he knows he fucked up and he's trying to make it right instead of making his kid pay for his mistakes. He doesn't expect any special treatment, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't appreciate a fucking break. Take a minute and teach the kid how to do the books or something so maybe he'll have a chance in life instead of spending it making you rich. You might be surprised how much he'd do for you if you show him a little respect instead of treating him like a piece of shit put on this earth to serve your sorry ass.

I hope you're comfortable with the idea of a young mom trying to feed her kids on what she makes working for you because she's determined to make it on her own instead of going on welfare. I hope you're wife doesn't find out about how you stare at that little 20 year old body all day and wonder if she'd sue your ass if you grabbed a handful. Oh yeah motherfucker, I've worked for guys like you, but unlike that little gal that you push around and intimidate and daydream about naked all fucking day I don't have my back that hard against a wall, my principles are more important than money to me. Let me see you pinch her ass pervert, I'll knock you the fuck out and you can shove your crummy job up your ass. Am I being too presumptuous? Am I reading too far into this? Probably, but I've known a hundred just fucking like you and you make me nauseous, I just hope for your employees' sake that you continue to be able to live with yourself instead of doing the right thing and putting a bullet through your fucking head. Sleep well fucker, sleep well.

I've been that kid, and my wife's been that girl, and we've worked for good people so we know they exist. The good help that you can't find are working for them, not Wal-Mart, just so you know.

And Aaron, the good people that I speak of, they do let people work overtime sometimes, they do it a little more often if they know one of their people's kids just got out of the hospital, or they're having a baby, or they're about to lose their house or car. They do it because it's right and they can, not because the law says they have to.


Aaron makes some good points, biased but good. At least they seem to be born of intelligence. But for someone who's been through what I've been through recently, having my job of 10 years sold out from under me so that a bunch of good ol' boys that are already rich could get richer and to hell with all the good people that they put out on their ass on a moment's notice, I have a really hard time feeling sorry for a big corporation that treats their employees like crap. This is a little mom and pop operation that I'm talking about, nowhere even a fraction of the influence of the almighty empire that is Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart pulls the kind of crap that my esteemed former employer pulled, it isn't a handful of people in 4 or 5 states that suffer, it's the whole world.

Don't take my word for it, go find out for yourself.

Or maybe you'll trust this source more since it's free?

Or maybe you don't like to read? Try the video version, be sure to watch all of them, they really fit together. Pay special attention to the parts about how your beloved Wally World buys product in a previously unheard of system where the price is entirely set by the retailer, I especially like all the sweat shop footage from China. Is this everyone's definition of a legitimate business? Sam's American Choice my ass.

Or maybe you prefer something very non-mainstream? Here's something obscure for you.

And how many companies have pissed off so many people that someone felt the need to start an official watchdog group?

Or maybe you'd like to ask a few of the proud Wal-Mart "Associates" mentioned in this article or elsewhere on this site?

Or perhaps you like your news from the mainstream media? Check out flavor of most of the articles on this page. Wow, very legal and legit if you ask me.

Or here's my personal favorite, this one requires a more hands on approach however, just type "Wal-Mart sucks" in the little box and see what happens. This one isn't for the terminally ignorant, however, so use it with caution.

If you've ever bought a CD at Wal-Mart raise your hand. Anyone?

Yes, Justin in the front row. You bought a CD from Wal-Mart, what did you think of it?

You think that it sucked? Why exactly would you say that, a CD is a CD isn't it? I mean the record companies make them and the stores sell them. Wal-Mart sells them cheaper than the record stores and since they're the same CDs you'd have to be a fool to buy them anywhere else wouldn't you?

What's that? The CDs that they sell at Wal-Mart are different than the CDs that they sell everywhere else? Nonsense, record companies wouldn't put out a special Wal-Mart version of an album just so that they could have their products sold in one particular store, they'd just tell the store either sell what we have or don't sell our products we'll sell them elsewhere. That would be censorship and a good American company like Wal-Mart would never take part in something like that. Besides, the suppliers decide what Wal-Mart can buy, not the other way around, everyone knows that's how business works, the retailers don't decide what gets made, the manufacturers do. That would be extremely dangerous to our economy, our freedom, our very way of life if a retailer as large as Wal-Mart had that much control over the market. I mean, they could control the type of media that a huge percentage of the population had access to since such a large number of people shop there. I mean, what would happen if they did the same thing with movies, or books, or magazines?

What? They do the same thing with movies just to a lesser degree? Well yes, we all know that Wal-Mart doesn't sell certain magazines or books but that's just because they're such a morally forthright company, not because they're trying to control what people can see or read. I mean, why should people have to walk past rows of porno magazines in order to get the latest copy of Cosmo? I don't want to be exposed to that type of filth. I just want to get my Cosmo and see what this month's sex tips are.

No Justin, I don't want to hear the CDs that you bought at Wal-Mart compared to the CDs that you bought at the record store, that would be facts, and in order to hear facts I would have to take off my tinfoil hat and you would see the horns growing out of the top of my head and we wouldn't want that now would we?

Class dismissed wolfpack.


Anonymous said...

Lets not hold anything back.

Justin said...

That's why I started this thing, I'm sick of holding back, I'm sick of being quiet, I'm sick of being stepped on and not being able to do a thing about it, I'm sick of seeing other people getting stepped on and not being able to do a thing about it. Granted, I'm not really doing anything about it now, but if I can get a few people to think a little . . .

Treasure State Jew said...

Justin; Wow. I seem to have facilitated a controversy. This should be talked about and discussed.

Please know that I am not arguing that Wal-Mart is good. I am just arguing that they are not evil. Wal-Mart is a symptom, not a cause, of the problems you cite.

As for overtime, as an employer I veiw the overtime laws as a strong incentive and encouragement by the government to push employers toward healthy management and scheduling practices. It is also an attempt to institute a 40 hour maximum workweek as the standard in this country.

Allowing overtime for non-business related reasons is a benefit, and giving benefits to ones employees is important for many reasons. However, any employer that relies on overtime is guilty of poor planning and will not long be in business.

Treasure State Jew said...

Oh, and a 3.5% net is an incredibly reasonable profit number. Microsoft made more on 1/8 the sales last year.

If your net is 3.5%, there is not too many places to increase expenses, unless you increase prices.

Justin said...

I know that you're not saying that Wal-Mart is necessarily good, that's why I respect you as much as I do. Taking an objective look at it is one thing, saying "oh I wish I were a Wal-Mart so I could pay people less" is another.

The statement that Wal-Mart is a symptom not a cause is yet another intelligent and reasonable, albeit, debatable point, you are a wealth of them sir and I salute you for it. The atmosphere that allowed WM (I'm getting tired of reaching for the hyphen, so I'll abbreviate), to rise to be such a power was indeed already in place, but the atmosphere that would allow me to start a business fixing cars and charge exhorbitant prices and do shoddy work is in place as well. Would that make it right? Granted, if my customers were dim enough to keep coming back for more, most of the blame would be on them since there are other shops around, but in the case of WM, the number of "other shops" gets smaller everyday, when they're all gone, then what? That is WM's objective, and they're well on their way to achieving it, ol' Sam himself said that he would run K-Mart out of business one day, he didn't live to see it, but it's close.

WM represents all that is wrong with a free enterprise system, a system that I support in every way possible by the way. It works great as long as everybody plays nice and works in harmony. When somebody starts taking advantage of every loophole for their own benefit it skews the entire thing. What comes out of it in the end is more laws and regulations that don't help anybody, add that to the fact that other businesses have to copy their tactics to compete and you have a recipe for widespread poverty, at the least the income level of the masses is loaded on a downward trend. What is the benefit for any business in that?

Look at it as a form of self discipline, economic discipline if you will. Just because a business can make more money than anyone else by paying low wages, doesn't mean that it's prudent. When WM has driven all of the good jobs out of the country, then who is going to buy their products? Paying higher wages is prudent when possible, it puts more money in the pockets of one's customers, with predictable results. There has to be a balance in other words, pay your people enough to buy what you're selling and the money will come back to you. Don't, and your business has a very finite lifespan.

As far as overtime is concerned, you are exactly right, it is irresponsible for a business to rely too heavily on overtime, but for a lot of people 40 hours a week just doesn't make ends meet, sad but true.

As far as 3.5% is concerned? I have to plead ignorance when it comes to businesspeak, but 3.5% of the money that WM takes in is a big friggin number. I'm not familiar with the laws regarding how much a business has to pay back to it's shareholders ect. But if they can take in as much money as they do and the law only allows them to pay their employees as much as they do, then I think perhaps it's time to change the law, or buy stock in WM perhaps?

Treasure State Jew said...

Justin; You make some good points. Lets examine them further.

If you open a mechanic shop and charge high prices for shoddy work, how many return customers would you reasonably expect? I would argue that your lifts would seize up from non-use.

The same is true for WM. Look at 2004. WM decided to forego deep discounts during the Christmas season. As a result, the retail trades were full of stories about the resurgence of Target (and yes, K-Mart) as retail competitors to WM. WM had an anemic holiday season and suffered a commensurate decline in both revenue and profit.

As for loopholes, they are there for a reason. I don't know about which particular law you speak, but our sage representatives (sarcasm intended) in Washington write those loopholes (which they call incentives) in order to fulfill some policy objective. A company, or an individual, that does not take advantage of every opportunity afforded them usually is not acting in rational self interest.

To complete our analogy, lets examine the very small instead of the very big. Particularly, lets examine an 'average' individual tax return.

A MFJ (married filing jointly) return from a two-wage earning, homeowning family will take advantage of many deductions and tax credits; not least a mortgage-interest tax deduction. In fact, there is a good chance that that family made mortgage decisions primarly based on the receipt of the mortgage interest tax deduction.

All of the deductions and credits claimed by that family are loopholes in the tax law. That family would be foolish if they did not take advantage of every one of those loopholes possible. Why should WM be any different?

Talk to our Representatives and Senators about the incentives (loopholes) they wrote in the law. However, I have trouble criticizing anyone for taking advantage of those loopholes once they already exist.

Justin said...

Aaron, I think that we're basically on the same page, we're just looking at it from different perspectives. I agree that WM has merely taken advantage of the opportunities that were already in place, I agree that as a business they would have been foolish to not do so, in the beginning at least, but more laws are not the answer, ethics are the answer. As I've said before, I wouldn't favor a law change, I'd like to see them do it willingly.

What I think we disagree on is a basic gut level discrepency regarding business etiquette. I see a lot of the old "the purpose of a business is to make money" going around and yes that is true to a point. I compare that reasoning however, to "life is short, have fun". While making money should be important to any business said business also has a responsibility to the people it effects. Much the same as any individual going through life, having fun is great but some types of fun like indiscriminate casual sex and drug use are irresponsible and lead to bad consequences. WM is indiscriminately sticking the shaft to the masses in the never ending quest for the almighty dollar. Unethical, and irresponsible.

My points have been full of analogies to the flavor of "just because it's legal, does that make it right". My beef with WM is similar to my beef with Mr Wolfcrack, when a person, company, government, it doesn't matter just anything with a disproportionate amount of power, (and like it or not WM has a disproportionate amount of power) rises to said power they have a responsibility to the people that they effect. Their actions have a ripple effect that resonates to far more than the individual or institution that plunks the stone into the pond. When we're talking about a business, their first priority should be their responsibility to their customers, and their employees, take care of those people and the profits will come. It is therefore my opinion (stress "opinion", I am no business expert by any means), that WM could do better as far as benevolence is concerned.

WM loves to hang posters up around their stores advertising how much they donated to this or that in an effort to maintain/repair their public image. They could repair said image to an astounding degree by providing a living wage to their employees and promoting American made goods, it would cost them more initially but they have the money and it would benefit them far more in the long run. Sort of a "Share the Wealth" campaign if you will. While donating money to starving kids in who knows where is important, those kids won't be the next generation of WM customers, the kids of their employees and the employees of their suppliers will. Wouldn't it make more sense to boost their position in life?

You have yet to address the main point of my entire argument, what is WM going to do when they've driven all of the good jobs out of this country? What are the rest of us going to do when WM drives all of the good jobs out of this country?

WM has indeed found the formula for making money in today's global economy, but the gravy train can only travel so far on it's own, if these huge corporations like WM don't start pumping something back into the economy as in higher wages for their own people, that gravy train is running on a limited amount of steam my friend. There are only so many .com millionaires left (I know millionaires probably don't shop at WM, it's an amalgum of all of the people that seem to have money but nobody knows where it came from since they don't work), sooner or later their customer base is going to fall back onto the working people. People working for 8 dollars an hour aren't buying cart loads of video games and DVD players every week, not after their credit cards are fully loaded anyway.

Treasure State Jew said...

Justin; Well, now you have gone and done it. You have hit on one of the main problems in our economy.

We don't make anything anymore, we just consume. Most of the people in the US have service sector jobs that do not make anything lasting of substance.

So if we don't make anything, what do we buy? Mostly tschockes made in another country. As I mentioned in some post on some blog during this debate, we now live in a global economy and all of us are competing against one another.

So we are importing the stuff we are buying, and the people in the US are working mostly service sector jobs. This situation can last for a little while, but eventually we will have sent all of our money to those other countries (where they are making the stuff we are buying), and we will have a serious problem.

Wal-Mart is a place where they sell the stuff we buy (that is made elsewhere). As a country, we need to make better stuff, cheaper. We are competing against every other country in the world, and that situation is not likely to change.

Again, WM is a symptom and not the cause. Why are we competing against people in the third world? Because technology makes it possible for their stuff to get her cheaper than we can make it.

How do we solve that problem? I have no idea. Sorry; I really don't. We need to find a solution, though.

This has been a fun debate, thanks.

Justin said...

Thank you as well Aaron, if I accomplished nothing else by it, I got something off my chest that's been bothering me. I think we actually agree on a lot, mainly that this "global economy" of ours is loaded against America, I said it when NAFTA was enacted, and I still say it now. When it all boils down, you are right. Who can blame Wal-Mart for taking advantage of the opportunity? I can because I'm looking at it from the perspective of an employee, but I posess enough humility to see that were I a businessman I may have a different view. Once again, thank you for a well thought out debate, and congratulations for doing so without managing to send me off on a tirade, that sir, is an accomplishment in itself. ;)

5 said...

Nevr respond to those who hide behind the anonymity of the web....

ZenPanda said...

Wow. This was a very interesting discussion. I enjoyed reading both sites & sides.

Rocky Smith said...

I'm not even sure what the inside of a Walmart store looks like. I'll shop anywhere else- even if it costs me a few dollars more. Walmart whacked Kmart and other merchandisers. Now they are killing grocery stores. Soon they intend to enter the banking arena. Who is next?

I travel to many small Montana towns on business. Many of these small town residents cry foul when their local stores close up shop. "Gee, now I have to go to the big city to get what I need." they cry. "Did you shop at that store when they were open?" I ask. "Why no- it's cheaper at Walmart." They say. They earned their fate, the stupid, penny pinching sheep! Where possible, support LOCAL businesses. Your neighbor's reasonable wage job may depend on it.