By Tommy Clarkson from the March 2014 Edition
(Walmart is a 250 pound playground bully)
Mr. Bauer and Mr. Hampton’s small, locally owned, grocery stores, Knupp’s pharmacy, Doerr’s Mercantile, Lischevsky’s Dry Goods and the ladies clothing store called The Toggery couldn’t do it. Row’s bakery, Estes Dairy, Western Auto, the Palace Clothier, Standish Men’s Clothes, Mullin’s Furniture Store and neither Wiggon’s or Lynch’s Drug stores could have stood up to it. On fact, virtually none of the family owned businesses of my youth – in the epitome of small town America (Larned, Kansas) – could survive the onslaught of such as Wal-Mart.
Simply stated, the knuckle dragging bully that we know as Wal-Mart, uses his size and muscle to have the playground all to himself. He did first in “Gringolandia” and now has commenced to do so here in Mexico! The “Reality Check Bottom Line: Wal-Mart is bad for communities, jobs, family businesses and ultimately the economy whole!
For a remarkably revealing look “behind the curtain” – and a veritable tome of relevant data – I refer you to this web site: http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/faculty/stone/. Personally familiar with Dr. Kenneth Stone for many years I know him to be a man of the highest scholarly credentials and personal credibility.
Starting in 1988, through extensive research and evaluation, he carefully observed and noted the effects of Wal-Mart on the smaller towns and cities in which it was located. As stated in one of his studies, “communities in the United States have been more adversely impacted by …Wal-Mart .. than by any other factors in recent times. Studies .. have shown that some towns lose up to 47 percent of their retail trade after 10 years of Wal-Mart stores nearby.”
I remember reading, three years ago, that – in spending nearly $308 billion dollars – Americans bought nearly the same amount of merchandise from Wal-Mart as the next five largest US retailers combined: Kroger, Target, Walgreen, Home Depot and Costco. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club sales (if cars were excluded) constituted 8.5% of all retail sales in the United States. That’s a behemoth of a bully beast in our retail play yard!
In his article, “Walmart and the Economics of Reality” – published in the August 27, 2013 edition of Trumpet.com – Sam Livingston stated that “If Walmart were a country, it would have the 25th largest economy in the world! By economic activity, it would be the biggest country in all of Africa (with), worldwide, the company employ(ing) a whopping 2.1 million people (which) in dollar terms, brings in over $1 billion a day in revenue and more than $400 billion annually.”
He went on to state that “In America, Walmart employs a little over one percent of the entire workforce. It is the country’s largest retailer and grocery store, with grocery sales accounting for over half of the company’s revenue.
More than $1 out of every $45 spent in the country is spent at Walmart—that is more than two percent of America’s total gross domestic product.”
Not a fan of Socialism, I am the quintessential believer in laissez-faire capitalism as it is clearly the individual/family driving force that once brought the United States to world economic prominence. (Just as a refresher, that would be “an economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from government restrictions, tariffs, and subsidies, with only enough regulations to protect property rights.”) But, some assert, that such allows monopolies and big businesses to oppress competitors.
Well, the Walmart organization of today makes the early (19th century) “Robber Barons” such as Astor, Carnegie,
Morgan, Vanderbilt, Mellon and Rockefeller, as well as the more recent sorts such as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdock and Donald Trump look to be absolute pre-school pikers at tromping the opposition and sucking up much more than lunch money from the masses!
And what of Wal-Mart’s employees? An ITVS story entitled “When Wal-Mart comes to town”, that while employing more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line. On the average these employees’ take home pay is under $250 a week. The salary for their employees (called “associates”) is $6 to $7.50 an hour for 28-39 hours a week.
Relative to this, a Huffington Post article of December 18, 2013, cited that a Wal-Mart “store decided to hold a food drive for needy local families for the holidays. What made this a PR nightmare was that the needy families were full time Wal-Mart employees who were working in the store holding a food drive.”
What of their “Buy American” assertions prominently placed throughout their stores? The same article states that “85 percent of the stores’ items are made overseas” and “after Wal-Mart’s “Buy American” ad campaign was in full swing, the company became the country’s largest importer of Chinese goods.” If that’s not a business biting the hand of the families that feed it I am hard pressed to know what to call it!
So in reflection, let’s think this over. Wal-Mart effectively thwarts (read “destroys”) “Mom and Pop” businesses – the very life blood of many smaller communities. Wal-Mart takes advantage of local bad economies by paying low wages to folks who need jobs. Wal-Mart doesn’t support the U.S economy by buying “American Made” products. And, Wal -Mart, in spite of its claims, doesn’t have all around the lowest prices.
Now, other than simple laziness, abject apathy and/or ignorance in the recognition of the fact that we are actually a part of the problem by going to there, why again is it that one should shop at Wal-Mart?
Tommy Clarkson is a bit of a renaissance man. He’s lived and worked in locales as disparate as the 1.2 square mile island of Kwajalein to war-torn Iraq, from aboard he and Patty’s boat berthed out of Sea Bright, NJ to Thailand, Germany, Hawaii and Viet Nam; He’s taught classes and courses on creative writing and mass communications from the elementary grades to graduate level; He’s spoken to a wide array of meetings, conferences and assemblages on topics as varied as Buddhism, strategic marketing and tropical plants; In the latter category he and Patty’s recently book, “The Civilized Jungle” – written for the lay gardener – has been heralded as “the best tropical plant book in the last ten years”; And, according to Trip Advisor, their spectacular tropical creation - Ola Brisa Gardens – is the “Number One Tour destination in Manzanillo”.