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Something Wal-Mart this way comes

Sunday, March 18, 2007 in My Opinions and Rantings (Views: 5352)
I remember when I was younger - there were grocery stores, drug stores, electronics stores, but rarely would any of these stores overlap the other. Oh sure, you could get cold medicine at the grocery store, or TV dinners at the drug store - but you wouldn't grocery shop at the drug store...

Then out of nowhere in the early 90's - this thing called Wal-Mart began popping up in conversation... As a matter of fact, we used to make fun of the idea of putting a computer next to a head of lettuce - that the computer consulting world wouldn't possibly be affected.

Now, Wal-Mart seems to be the target once again - on their employment practices, how they strive to create monopolies, and the fact they are just in general, dirty players...

I personally was a late arrival to Wal-Mart, mainly because one was never all that convenient to me... Once acquained with Wal-Mart, generally I do like the place. Below are my thoughts of the battle of the special interests vs. Wal-Mart...

Of my observations...

1. Wal-Mart is a zoo.

Why? They're popular and for one reason or another, people want to shop there. But let's not kid ourselves - low prices probably look attractive t a lot of people.

So if you stand in line, remember - you are paying less, don't complain if the lines are longer. There are people who shop in more expensive stores so that they don't have to fight as bad of crowds.

2. Special interest groups are only giving advertising to Wal-Mart

Wasn't it President Bush that said "No publicity is bad publicity?" Say what you want about Wal-Mart, it is free advertising.

3. Is it slander, or just spin?

Honestly, I don't think either side is completely clean here - but I would side with Wal-Mart here... Special interest groups can put spin on how Wal-Mart doesn't pay enough and how many employees don't have health care.

Let's face it - whether you make $7.50 an hour or $75,000 a year isn't the issue. I know some who do better on $7.50 an hour - it's not easy, but doable...

One word for the special interest groups... A reference from the FX show "The Shield" sums it up when Det. Vic Mackey goes to another detective ("Dutch") and threatens to call the other detective gay if he doesn't go along with him. The other detective responds with "But I'm not gay." Mackey says "I know, but all I have to do is say it for people to believe it"... Just because you sling mud, doesn't mean everyone will believe you...

4. The prices are lower in general for just about anything I am looking for (without sacrificing anything in quality)... Let's face it, a box is a box. Need I say more?

5. The convenience of one stop shopping. The other day I picked up a hand truck, light bulbs, rawhide bones, vitamins, a CD, and groceries (and made it to the 20 or less line)...

6. They're everywhere. I travel fairly frequently, and I am somewhat assured that no matter where I go, a store is nearby.

7. Adding to #6, they are consistent... I know for the most part what I will be buying when I go to a store - even if I have never been there before. The brands and prices are consistent, so I don't have to do a lot of searching to find what I want.

Let's talk now about benefits and culture, shall we? I don't personally work at Wal-Mart, and don't know all the goings on... I'm sure some stores are much more pleasant to work in than others...

Of the things I've heard, many Wal-Mart employees have health insurance, and have it offered to them at a semi-reasonable cost. Either the employee is covered through an outside plan (such as a spouse's job) or they are offered the company plan.

Let's be honest about health care in general here - even with GOOD insurance, most people making near minimum wage will have a harder time making a $20 copay and a $20 prescription copay for a single visit (assuming that is all they need to do is go to a doctor and get drugs)...

According to Wal-Mart, they do offer plans at about $1 a day (assuming about $30 a month)... At close to minimum wage, an employee in good health would probably rather skip this option, since you can buy other things with that money. So I can see how the numbers are skewed and spun making the company look bad.

My understanding also is that Wal-Mart is not a union based operation, which of course makes the unions quite unhappy with them. My opinions of unions in general are that they really are nothing more than special interest groups which extort money from employees to keep their clique running. Speaking from past experiences, my ex was required to pay yearly dues (working for a retail - drug store) to a union. Upon filing a complaint to the union (which had merit), the only thing they really did was reluctantly took a statement, and the rest was pretty much a waste of time from there.

I suppose I've blabbed enough here - but in general, Wal-Mart offers a decent product and it's a reasonable place to shop... For the most part, employees there don't seem unhappy (you can't fake being happy too well) - but some people wouldn't like their jobs if they could dictate their own terms...

To sum it up - let the mud slinging continue towards Wal-Mart... You seem to only be feeding the beast you're trying to kill...

 

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