The Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart’s Every-day Low Prices

Ever see the commercial with the bouncing smiley face? “Rolling back prices”? They must have paid a lot of money to hire some highly talented graphic designer to create that lovable bundle of corporate propaganda. But if you ask me, that’s just good old Sam Walton, smiling at all of us from his new, happy home, in hell. Its time you learn the truth about Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is an evil corporation. Accounting for 9% of the retail market. Just to give you an idea of how massive this store really is; it has its own in store TV network playing nonstop commercials for Wal-Mart products. This network is ranked 5th largest in the country. Ironically, they have more viewers than PBS. With a company this large, it’s no wonder there has been so much abuse of power. You may already know some of the issues overseas from the teachings of the WTO riots, but what really didn’t get much attention were the domestic issues involving some of the American working class.

All exploitation starts with the hiring process. Wal-Mart carefully picks its managers from the community to find the most ruthless, cruel, manipulative, dependable people around. Sadly, those people aren’t that hard to find. They are then carefully trained, equipped with a manager’s toolkit, (a stack of manuals explaining in detail, exactly how to deal with any situation imaginable.) then sent on their way. Management’s duty now is to carefully select their workforce. Wal-Mart’s employees are expected to meet the highest of standards, so Wal-Mart is looking for the least questioning people around. People who will willingly follow management’s advise, no matter how immoral it may be. Employees who would be unlikely to know what lines management can, and can’t cross. These aren’t bad people, they aren’t stupid people, they’re usually just desperate for a job. I’ll explain why that is a little later.

I was a little curious about how in depth these manuals really were, so I acquired a set of them. To my dismay, I encountered a section in one of the manuals that explains exactly how to find, screen and hire the most “suitable” workers. This section is titled “the 7 types of associates attracted to unions” in “labor relations and you”. It’s curious how serious they are about keeping unions out of their store.

My favorite of these 7 is number 6. “THE CAUSE-ORIENTED ASSOCIATE. This associate will “jump’ on any bandwagon that passes through his area. He was the same individual who joined all of the ‘off-beat’ organizations in high school or college. He typically led demonstrations against everything from “red dye” to “ban the bomb”. He once took a trip to India to visit his personal “guru”.” Apparently Wal-Mart doesn’t think very highly of the red dye movement. Many types of red dye have been linked to mental illness, birth defects and death. But I digress.

The consequences to this are as such. Hire immoral people to direct desperate people, you will have, for the most part, a workforce with no conscience. I wanted to test this theory, so I took a little field trip to the local Wal-Mart in Bremerton Washington. (The one that was fined 64 thousand dollars for the environmental disaster it caused when it built a store over a salmon stream.) I walked around the store, politely interviewing employees. I asked what their wages were, what their benefits were, if they knew what the average pay for their job at other retail stores such as Costco, and if they were happy with their job. A few minutes later, I was confronted by the security team, and “escorted” to management. I was interrogated, and they attempted to remove my notes. That’s not legal, it’s in violation of RCW 4.24.220 upon informing them of this, the questioning ceased, and I was told to leave the store. All this for asking a few simple questions that the employees were more than happy to answer.

Now that Wal-Mart has their militia, they have to control them. This is done through mindless propaganda, personal warnings, and a highly threatening shadow. My favorite example of this propaganda is found in the manager’s toolbox. It explains why “unions are bad for employees” by making such absurd claims as “a substantial number of unions are linked with the underworld.” I’m not kidding. This is on page 15 of “labor relations and you”. I can see union members dancing around a fire, practicing their satanic rituals before sacrificing a virgin managerâÂ?¦.

If associates don’t buy these warnings, and continue to question about unions, the store goes into what is called a category 2 alert. This is where management calls 501-273-8300 and the professionals, “labor consultants” are flown in to handle the matter. Sadly, this number has recently been changedâÂ?¦

If it comes down to it, and a union is successfully organized in a store, Wal-Mart shuts down that location, and lays off everyone. Little discouraging, no?

So, now the associates are under Wally’s control, lets take a little look at what their lives are now worth. For Wal-Mart, they are simply cheap labor. They exist to make money. Lots of money. As much money as possible. But how much money can one employee make for a company? Lets use a greeter for an example. The elderly folk that say hello as you enter the store. They can’t generate that much profit, now can they? Well, the truth is, they do. A dead peasant insurance policy is taken out on any feeble looking employee. For this position, that is what they look for when hiring. You may have heard that walmart hires the elderly? Well, this is why. Every time one of these people dies, Wal-Mart instantly gets $300,000. Yes, its legal, no it’s not moral, and no they don’t know about it. I find this disgusting. Know what other company regularly took this type of policy out on its employees? Enron.

So, someone who makes that much money for the company, they’re bound to get some respect while they work there, right? Good wages? Low cost health insurance? At least, something. Right?

Nope. In fact, quite the opposite. A starting wage of 7 bucks an hour or minimum wage, ridiculously expensive health insurance, and free training? That’s funny, what kind of training could that be? I’ll tell you. Employees are taught how to receive free health insurance from the state. Health insurance that is paid for by tax dollars. So, ultimately we’re paying a little more to have the option to shop at Wal-Mart. Only $312,750 per store per year though. That’s $36,000 to pay for reduced price lunches for the children of the associates. $42,000 for section 8 federal housing assistance. $125,000 for federal tax credits and deductions for low income families. $100,000 for title 1 educational funds. And $9,750 for energy assistance subsidies for low income families. Wal-Mart simply casts its employees away, for the state to deal with.

Now, what would it cost Wal-Mart to show some respect? Not a whole lot considering they are one of the biggest companies in history. Only really being rivaled by “Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co” of the 1920s.

Wal-Mart could even raise prices a little to give their employees a raise. To raise the starting wage $1.00 an hour, Wal-Mart would only have to raise prices half a penny on the dollar. This would hardly be noticeable to the customer. For example, say you, (the customer) want to purchase a new Verney carron .410 guage snake charmer break action shotgun for about $140, and a 24 pack of Milwaukee’s best for $9.00âÂ?¦ that’s about $149, right? Well, if Wal-Mart raises their prices, that’ll cost you about $149.75âÂ?¦. 75 cents to help a person survive. Is that so much to ask?

It is our example, as moral beings that will change the future. You don’t need to be vocal if you wish to fix these issues, just educated. I urge you to support businesses that still have a shred of decency Costco is an excellent example.

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