Friday, December 3, 2010

Ten Reasons Why Walmart Is Crippling Society.

Oh, Walmart. You've had this coming for so long.  I do believe
that I'm going to enjoy this.

Last Friday (if I remember correctly), I threw up a post about the ten movies I hate the most in this world.  It was, apparently, very popular so I've decided to do a "Ten ____" every Friday from now on.  In an effort to keep this blog more about social issues and less about what I'm interested in personally, I thought that Walmart would be a great place to start.  And by "a great place to start", I mean that I'm going to make you never want to shop there again.  

Of course, most of the reasons why I believe that Walmart is destroying our society can be found in the documentary entitled Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices.  And yes, you can find the whole 98 minute film on google videos, or you can instant Netflix it.  A word of warning about the documentary:  I can guarantee it will make you furious- so furious that you will contemplate murdering the next person you see.  

While I have never worked at Walmart, I have known several people that have/are, including my own father.  So between the documentary and some personal witnesses, I think I have enough experience on the subject to get ten convincing reasons out there as to why Walmart is a fat, ugly tumor on the rectum of society.  Like the movie list, these are in no particular order.  
1.) There is this fantastic website called People of Walmart that prove how unnatural some of the individuals are that shop there.  Now, I'm not saying everyone, I'm merely saying that at no other place on Earth will you find people like these.  Here are some examples:
And no, I don't need to caption them.  The website does that for me and besides, they kinda speak for themselves, do they not?  Anyway, People of Walmart is hilariously addictive.  You can search photos by newest, by state (which is fun) or randomize them.  Have a blast!

2.) Where ever a Walmart pops up, the locally owned small family businesses in the area vanish.  Because Walmart is a bigger corporation, it can afford to sell its goods at a lower cost, making it more appealing than the local Ma & Pa stores.  Saving money is, in fact, a good thing, but not when it is at the cost of harming others.  I'm sure you're thinking, "Well, that's capitalism.  The big survive and the small get crushed."  I will not lie here- I know next to nothing about economics.  What I do know is history, and history shows that this country was built on the small businesses that used to line the streets of our towns and cities.  Then again, history also shows that most Ma and Pa businesses were run by those damned communists.  Good job, Walmart!  You're so patriotic!  Show those Ruskies (or, I suppose now they'd be terrorists!) a thing or two about what happens when you challenge Amurica!  

3.) Walmart employees are given a 10% discount on everything in the store.  Need I remind you that the prices in Walmart are already lower than pretty much anywhere else in the country?  So this makes it seem like a good deal, right?  Wrong.  Employees are paid minimum wage at best, and hardly ever get raises.  If they are single or a student, it's not such a bad thing.  But if they are part of a family, they make only enough money to shop at Walmart.  In other words, Walmart hands their employees a check, and then gets most of it back.  I suppose it is good business... seems evil though, doesn't it?

  See reasons 2 and 3...

4.) Walmart takes life insurance policies out on its employees.  Without telling them.  Sure, not everyone dies, but sometimes Walmart gets lucky.  Maybe one night, Teresa is driving home from working a ten hour shift (which they make you work around Black Friday) when her car explodes in the middle of the highway.  She's driving a Ford Pinto in this scenario.  Yeah, I know it's an old car, but she couldn't afford any better on her Walmart paycheck.  Plus, she got it 10% off because she bought it at a Walmart. They sell cars there now, don't question me.  At any rate, her shitty Pinto decides that it's time for Teresa to make peace with her God and explodes into a massive fireball with literally no warning.  The left rear tire goes flying over the median and busts through the windshield of Grampa T-Dawg's brand new Mustang, and what does he do?  The old coot has a massive heart attack and dies right there, driving his brand new social security funded muscle car into a ditch.  As the police reports roll in, the Walmart higher ups rejoice.  Both Teresa and T-Dawg were employees- and better!- they were both insured for $1 million each!  With any luck, the bank will forget to notify the families that their loved ones were insured by their employers, and Walmart will make quite the profit.  

5.) Walmart is impersonal, usually unclean, and a breeding ground for criminals- especially rapists.  Whenever I'm in a Walmart, the only employee I talk to is the extremely depressed cashier.  Anyone working around the store is not approachable in the least, as I have seen them with box cutters and this clear look of "I'm gunna kill you, boy" plastered on their spiteful faces.  Not to mention the fact that I have to sanitize my hands after touching any surface or product inside the store.  It has to be the only place on the planet where you can get an STD (sorry, an "STI") from touching an item in the home and gardening section (insert "garden hoe" joke here).  As far as the criminal breeding ground thing goes, just look for some news involving the parking lot situation.  You won't have to search very hard.  There are numerous rape cases a year that take place outside of the store due to lack of security cameras (or lack of guards watching the cameras).  And where do serial killers go for all of their rope and fertilizer needs?  Walmart!  

6.) Only in America is Walmart valued.  In the rest of the world, it is generally shunned for its lack of personality.  When I took German my freshman year, my professor was telling us about how Walmart attempted to set up stores in central Germany not too long ago.  They were driven out not because the people rallied against the idea, but because nobody shopped there.  The Germans, who buy groceries every day (they like the food fresh... bunch of freaks), would rather spend more and feel as though they are socializing with actual humans than spend less and have a brief interaction with the suicidal robot cashier.  I'd like to go on record here saying that I don't know how many Walmarts there are in Germany- there could be several.  But from what my professor said, there are not nearly as many of them over there as there are here.

7.) As of 2005, Walmart has 356 "dead stores" in its inventory.  Ever notice how a regular Walmart goes up and stays around for several years, and then a "super Walmart" goes up practically next door?  You'd think that the company would tear down the old one and make room for someone else.  Nope.  Walmart leaves the hollowed out, vacant shell of the old store to sit and rot, while the new super center prospers.  This is to keep competitors from throwing up a Lowe's or a Target right next door.  These abandoned Walmarts are an eye sore and a waste of space, with absolutely no value.  Walmart actually pays the taxes to keep the space- evidence that they are doing this on purpose.  And this statistic is almost 6 years old.  How many vacant Walmarts are there now?  500?  600?  To put 356 stores in perspective, that is approximately 26.7 million square feet of decrepit buildings.

(Movie Trailer Announcer Voice)
"In a world where there are Walmarts, and Walmart Super Centers, one family 
tries to find a place to live.  But they'll soon discover that the evil executives that run
Walmart have hearts as empty as their vacant stores.  There are no houses.  There are no stores.
There is only... Walmart."

 8.) This one I took directly from the Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices fact website:

In Massachusetts, "a Middlesex court judge has put his imprimatur on a suit alleging the retail giant failed to pay employees for time worked and neglected to give them meal and rest breaks, the Herald has learned. The eight-page ruling by Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy cites an affidavit by a computer expert hired by the plaintiffs. The expert allegedly found 7,000 instances during a one-year period when Wal-Mart managers deleted large blocks of time from their employee payroll records."
Source: John Strahinich, "Judge OKs Employee Lawsuit Against Wal-Mart,"Boston Herald, January 7, 2005. 

Meanwhile, in California, a class-action lawsuit potentially involving up to 215,000 current and former Wal-Mart and Sam's Club employees "charges that Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., deleted thousands of hours of time worked from employees' payroll records by erasing overtime hours and by penalizing employees who forgot to punch in after their meal breaks by denying them pay for the remainder of those days."
Source: "Alameda County Suit Alleges Wal-Mart Cheated Workers," Bay City News, January 20, 2005.

Well, isn't that fucking special?  If I worked more than 40 hours a week and found out that my manager had been skimming off whatever hours I had worked over the 40-hour mark, I would completely lose my shit.  In no way is that acceptable at any job, let alone at a corporation where the majority shareholders rake in billions of dollars a year.  There are many reasons to hate Walmart, but this one takes the goddamn cake.

9.) People that like Walmart and its "every day low prices" are normally so obsessed with the place, they practically live there.  My own dad, for example, would drive the extra ten minutes out of the way to go to Walmart for a single gallon of milk when there was a grocery store much closer.  His excuse was that the milk was ten cents cheaper, and he got his 10% discount.  OoOo.  Ten fucking percent.  Pardon me, Mr. Ten Percent Discount.  I didn't realize you had the prestige and recognition of Walmart Inc. Allow me to bow before your majesty.  My only wish is that you kick dirt in my face and then spit on me, so that maybe, just maybe, some of your greatness will rub off onto me.  Look, if a gallon of milk cost $100 bucks, I would be on his side.  But 10% of ~3.40?  That's thirty-four cents.  At minimum wage, you make thirty-four cents in about two minutes.  By the way, because he has to go the extra ten minutes out and the extra ten minutes back, that's twenty minutes of wasted gas he spent.  So really, it would have been cheaper to just get the milk and pay ~$3.50 for it at the closer store.  

10.) If you do anything that looks even remotely suspicious, or if you personally look suspicious, you will get followed around Walmart for the entire time you're in the store.  I am not kidding.  They have cameras every where inside the store (and these ones actually get watched), and they can see every aisle from every angle.  I'll share another personal anecdote with you (and I do mean personal).  
     I was in Walmart with my dad- the one he worked at- about three and a half or four years ago.  Needing to buy a specific product that only men would buy (a product I didn't want him to see me buying) I told him I was going to go grab something and that I would be right back.  Embarrassed, I grabbed said product and slipped it up into the sleeve of my sweatshirt.  I had no intention of stealing it.  I just didn't want people to see me walking around with it.  I went to the front and found one of those robotic, do-it-yourself cash registers and proceeded to make my purchase, throwing in a candy bar and a soda for good measure.  Receipt in hand, I bagged the items and wandered back to my dad, completely unaware that I was being followed from about the moment my hand touched the product.  I will admit, the action was suspicious, but I literally bought the item and had the receipt for it.  To make a long story short, my dad brought me home to my mother, and I then went over to a friend's house for a few hours.  Later on that evening, my mom came by to pick me up as I only had my permit at the time, and she was not happy.  I could tell because I didn't call her to ask her to come and get me.  
     As soon as I sat down in the passenger seat, she threw my purchased product- which I had hidden from her in my room- and said, "Why the hell did you steal this?!"  I was dumbstruck.  "I didn't steal anything," I told her.  "I have the receipt at home."  "You better," she said.  "Because your father called and told me that Walmart is ready to press charges and sue your ass off for stealing."  "...No, I have the receipt, Mom, really... How... how did you find ____?"  "It took me thirty seconds.  Don't hide shit in your sock drawer."
     There is more to the story, like how my dad had gone back to Walmart on the way home from dropping me off (sad, huh?) and security had pulled him into a room where they showed him my antics.  So much for my discretion.  He did, in fact, tell me that someone had been following me- I was not making that up.  
     The point here is that I had a Walmart employee stalking me, even after I had checked out, and instead of confronting me when I left the store, the individual let me walk out.  Maybe they counted on me to throw the receipt away like a stupid, irresponsible sixteen year old boy would.  What proof would I have had then?  Walmart would have taken everything from me, my mother, and my family, all because I had "stolen" an item that was under $5.  
     This final reason, however, isn't just about me.  There is a rampant string of racism running in the Walmart stores- racism that lies behind the scenes in the employee circles.  While it's probably more prevalent in the southern U.S., I'm sure it happens in just about every store.  Employees, particularly caucasian employees, will stalk ethnic customers hoping that they do something that looks even somewhat suspicious.  Not only that, but within the Walmart "family", it is very difficult for non-caucasians- and even women!- to get promoted, get raises, and even get respect from fellow co-workers and the store management.  Jesus Christ, it's like Walmart is living in the early nineteenth century.  Hey, Walmart.  It's almost 2011.  Get the fuck over yourself.  Here are some more facts from the aforementioned website, just in case you don't believe me:

Wal-Mart is facing a class-action lawsuit for discrimination against $1.6 million former and current female employees.

  • Source: Liza Featherstone, "Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights At Wal-Mart," Basic Books, 2004.
  • For more information on this lawsuit, please visit the Wal-Mart Class website.
Edith Arana was told by a manager, "There's no place for people like you in management..." - WAL-MART and Racial Discrimination
Wal-Mart disputes a claim made by Edith Arana in the film, that she experienced racial as well as gender discrimination in her experience working at Wal-Mart, by saying hers is an isolated incident.
  • In fact, in addition to Edith Arana's claim, Cleo Page and Betty Dukes, two of the six named plaintiffs in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, the largest gender discrimination class-action lawsuit in history, have also filed individual race discrimination claims against Wal-Mart.

    Several of the other women involved in the class-action have provided depositions that attest to racial discrimination as well as gender discrimination. Those testimonies are available at the website and include the declarations of the following women, who testify to racial discrimination in addition to their gender discrimination claims:
  • The company also faces a smaller class-action lawsuit from African American truckers who charge discrimination, which was publicized recently in the New York Times (source: Jonathan D. Glater, "2 Black Truckers Sue, Accusing Wal-Mart of Hiring Bias," New York Times, July 14, 2005).
  • Also, the following reports attest to further racial discrimination practices:
    • "The EEOC noted�that only one of the 20 drivers Wal-Mart hired in 2002 was black. The EEOC also noted that Wal-Mart hired some white drivers with more serious driving violations and less experience than black applicants."
      • Source: Tammy Joyner, "Truck Driver Applicant Accuses Wal-Mart of Racial Bias," Cox News Service, September 23, 2004.
    • In 2001, the Mexican-American Political Association initiated a boycott of a Fresno, CA Wal-Mart. Ben Benavidez, president of MAPA, claimed that "MAPA received complaints from current and past employees about the store manager and some of his assistants making remarks such as, "You see one Mexican, you've seen them all," "We don't want our store front to look like a Mexican flea market," and something to the effect of, "Have you noticed how Mexican women like to buy body-revealing clothes?"
      • Source: Louis Galvan, "Fresno Wal-Mart Mistreatment Alleged," Fresno Bee, November 24, 2001.
    • The NAACP's 2005 Industry Survey gave Wal-Mart a grade of C- "within the areas of employment, vendor development, advertising/marketing, charitable giving and investing/ franchising."
  • Wal-Mart also testifies to its diversity by citing several awards it has won for racial diversity, including a citation from DiversityInc Magazine.

    That same magazine also published an article entitled "Wal-Mart Diversity Head Can't Back Claims With Numbers," in which it states:
    "The company won't say how many women and people of color now work as hourly associates, supervisors, managers and executives, and it won't describe hiring goals that it touts as critical to its new diversity efforts. As a result, Porter -- a 12-year-veteran of Wal-Mart -- has no factual support for her claim that Wal-Mart's existing diversity efforts have been successful or her contention that those well-publicized hiring goals will produce any significant change."
    (Source: Linda Bean, "Wal-Mart Diversity Head Can't Back Claims with Numbers," DiversityInc Magazine, June 23, 2004.)

So there you have it.  Walmart is an evil, crippling force to society that shows no signs of stopping.  It is harming our environment, our culture, and yes, our economy in hundreds of ways.  I urge you to watch the documentary I mentioned at the beginning, and to avoid shopping at Walmart at all costs.  I know times are rough- I still go there when I absolutely have to- but try Target or something.  You're all good people, and Walmart doesn't deserve you.

Oh, and by the way, I could have gone on to give fifteen more good reasons, like how they had to recall bags of frozen veggies because there was broken fucking glass in thousands of bags.  To me, there is no three strike system for things like that.  One shot and you're out.  Broken glass in my vegetables is a one shot deal.  Do not serve me frozen peas from Walmart, or I will break your freezer to ensure that you can never buy frozen veggies from any where ever again.

Finally, this two minute South Park clip from the episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes" sums up almost this entire post.  Check it out, and if you find the time, watch the entire twenty two minute episode.  I promise you'll like it.



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