The Low, Low isn’t so Low, Low

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Wal-Mart is pretty bad despite the so-called boosting to the American shopper. While it can be stated that the everyday, low, low mentality that Wal-Mart resounds across these United 50 states is beneficial to the average consumer pocketbook, it takes advantage of its employees and in turn, its customers. How, you may ask? Through a suppression of wages and employee treatment.

According to Arindrajit Dube of the University of California at Berkeley, a leading Wal-Mart critic, it was calculated that Wal-Mart "caused a $4.7 billion annual loss of wages for workers in the retail sector" (Mallaby). Mallaby contends that in spite of this annual loss, that Wal-Mart "received 8,000 applications for 525 jobs, suggesting that not everyone believes the pay and benefits are unattractive" (Mallaby). That does not necessarily speak to the atrocities of Wal-Mart's ethics and moral values, but more to the overarching picture of America and the struggling economy. More than any other time, people of all backgrounds with as many degrees as a thermometer are applying for jobs that they otherwise would not have because they are in need of money to feed their families and keep roofs over their head. Thus, they may be willing to take less in the interim to get back on their proverbial feet. That still does not discount the minimum wage problem that Wal-Mart smiles upon.

Lydia Dishman in her article "Target vs. Wal-Mart - Which One Is A Better Place to Work?" notes how much Wal-Mart pays per eight popular positions. A greeter makes anywhere between $6.98 to $12.18 per hour; a cashier makes $7.30 to $10.40 an hour; and [if you are lucky enough to start as a manager] the managers make anywhere between $42,000 all the way to $60,000. Customer service sales associates make between $7.79 and $12.75 an hour and a freight mover, makes anywhere between $7.35 to $14.90 an hour (Dishman). That's definitely, low, low. While it is understandable that these jobs are considered minimum wage and entry level, which does not mean Wal-Mart is the savior of the economic dilemmas this country is facing nor does it mean that America suddenly needs and benefits from Wal-Mart as many proponents of Wal-Mart claim.

Malaby conveniently noted that "the $4.7 billion of wage suppression in the retail sector excludes Wal-Mart's efforts to drive down wages at its suppliers" (Malaby) which means he acknowledges the suppression problem that Wal-Mart swims within. It would seem as though Wal-Mart is replete with Chinese workers who are working grueling hours and intense labor for pennies per day and this is supposedly good for America. In what context, exactly? This poor treatment of labor and wage suppression mentality is negatively impacting Wal-Mart's bottom line. Customers are abandoning the low, low for the better elsewhere because of Wal-Mart's lack of investment in its workers. If this is the so-called dominating force among super chain retailers in America, there should be a better focus on the people they hire and the output that is created (Jones). Wal-Mart just does not seem to get that their low sales are the result of the low wages that Dube pronounced.

In "emails linked to Bloomberg News, Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart's vice president of finance and logistics, called February the worst start to a month he had seen in his seven years with the company. An email from another company executive said in part, 'where are all the customers? and where's the money? Where are the customers?'" (Jones) which would denote that Wal-Mart isn't all it's cracked up to be. So where is the disconnect that Malaby contends is not really a disconnect?

Employees are a noteworthy part in the company's assets. Employees need to feel good about working for a company that treats them reasonably create good customer service. Wal-Mart can't keep its shelves stocked because it deems in cutting labor first in order to accumulate money. They have a downright disrespect for long term business accomplishment in favor of mistreatment. Thus, the chickens are coming home to roost for Wal-Mart (Jones). Indeed, they are but it would seem as though this is being ignored by those who find Wal-Mart’s low, low; a high, high for the American people.

Another interesting discovery that has been panned by Wal-Mart lovers is that it's not such a parasite on taxpayers. "5% of Wal-Mart workers are on Medicaid. That's a typical level for large retail firms, and the national average for all firms is 4%" (Malaby). But this customary percentage that is being purported is more of an indirect declaration made by Wal-Mart to avoid paying workers more for their labor. "Wal-Mart declared profits of $15.4 billion in 2011 while receiving subsidies of $2.66 billion in the form of food stamps and Medicaid to associates earning poverty wages. So how does Sam Walton and company stay so rich? By paying their employees slave [labor] wages and not providing [but a slim amount of benefits] forcing them to use food stamps and Medicaid" (Frauenfelder). So this national percentage that is being quoted is nothing but smoke and mirrors, a magic trick by passionate Wal-Marties that hides the siphoning of money from taxpayers. Malaby contends that progressives "favor a national health system. In the 1990s progressives argued loudly for the reform that allowed poor Americans to keep Medicaid benefits even if they had a job" (Malaby). Yes, reform to keep Medicaid benefits, not to circumvent them. That is not reform.

It is understandable that Wal-Mart is not run by saints, but does that make Walton and Co sinners? If the shoe fits. Wal-Mart can do better than they are doing than suppression of wages, Chinese workers ensuring that there are continually stocked with cheap clothes, and other kinds of foolishness. That is not business innovation but manipulation of the American public. This is American inequality, not equality. As previously noted, the American public are willing to take jobs that pay minimum in the interim given the economic downturn, but that does not give companies such as Wal-Mart the right to just do anything. Wal-Mart is essentially trying to have their cake and eat it too because they are the dominant retailer in the types of goods they sell.

Simply put, Wal-Mart is bad for America. But America absolutely adores the company because of its monolithic centralization. Wal-Mart has destroyed tons of small businesses, our economy is being crushed by the ruthless operations, and not to mention, Americans have become dependent upon them. Wal-Mart's "power is so immense that even the largest suppliers must comply with its demands for lower and lower prices because they cannot afford to have their goods taken off the shelves. Companies that used to manufacture products in the United States [are] pressured to shut U.S. factories and move manufacturing abroad" (Snyder). And this is good for America? How, exactly. The question cannot be answered with rational logic and reasoning. In fact, proponents of Wal-Mart simply refute those of us that proclaim Wal-Mart to be somewhat tyrannical in their practices in America of wage suppression, slave labor and other avenues of manipulation and deception.

What can be done about the rampant Wal-Mart love? Unfortunately, not too much. As quiet as it's kept, Wal-Mart is a known quantity. A hot commodity. Americans have been brainwashed by the corporation into thinking it's good for the economy, but there is nothing transformative about it. But how do you de-brainwash a myriad of the populace who have become so used to a place where they can buy everything from groceries to DVDs to new tires and gas? Deprogramming is a slow process, but one that must be done for the future of America. 

Works Cited

Dishman, Lydia. "Target vs. Walmart -- Which One Is a Better Place to Work?." AOL Jobs, 2 May 2011, http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/05/02/target-vs-walmart-which-one-is-a-better-place-to-work/.

Frauenfelder, Mark. "How Walmart uses medicaid and foodstamps to avoid paying its workers a living wage." Boing, 23 Nov. 2012, http://boingboing.net/2012/11/23/how-walmart-uses-medicaid-and.html.

Jones, Sarah. "Customers Abandon Wal-Mart As Their Treatment of Labor Wreaks Havoc on Sales ." PoliticusUSA, 26 Mar. 2013, http://www.politicususa.com/wal-marts-treatment-labor-wreaks-havok-sales-costco-boost.html>.

Mallaby, Sebastian. "Progressive Wal-Mart. Really." The Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/27/AR2005112700687.html.

Snyder , Michael. "Is Wal-Mart Destroying America?" Activist Post, 5 July 2012, http://www.activistpost.com/2012/07/is-wal-mart-destroying-america-20-facts.html.