Skip to main content

up against the wal[mart]

ok, if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know where i stand, but if you're new, let me be up front: i hate walmart. pretty much everything they do, i would do the reverse. anything they hold to be a virtue strikes me as a vice and, i would dare to say, their management would believe the same about me. that hasn't stopped me from courting them. i've worked with companies who supplied them and my personal efforts were dedicated to increasing their business. but that's not what made me hate them. if anything, working closely with them gave me a sense of admiration for their ruthless efficiency. in all honesty, it's like a newbie fbi agent looking at the work of an adept serial killer. it's hard not to be impressed by the craft, divorced from the real-world results.

but somehow, when i first heard the story of a garment factory burning to the ground and killing over a hundred people in bangladesh, i couldn't help but think that walmart's hand was in there, pulling the puppet's strings in the background.

and so they were.

and if there is anything that strikes me as worse than the largest corporation in the world being involved with a factory where supervisors barricaded the doors as the building burned around them, it's the fact that said corporation has chosen to adopt a position of ignorance, claiming that their supplier outsourced to this factory without consent and that they had absolutely no idea what was going on.

i call malarkey.

walmart's position with its vendors is that from one year to another, they must offer "more for the same, or the same for less". that means that the price either has to decrease, or walmart has to get more product for the same amount of money. it flies in the face of economic theory, which indicates that a healthy economy carries a nominal level of inflation [and the attendant price increases]. where exactly did they think that these savings were coming from? the owners and managers of walmart aren't stupid. they are perfectly aware that the demand that all suppliers lower prices means that jobs are handed off to factories with sub-standard [and possibly illegal] modes of operating. but as long as they get what they want, they're willing to look the other way.

i've already ranted about this, but i think it's worth calling attention to this story, because, ultimately, it's important to understand that this factory fire isn't a tragic accident, but a natural outgrowth of walmart's corporate policies. at a corporate level, this sort of incident has been deemed an acceptable risk in the name of maintaining the company's pricing policy. walmart will do the expected public mea culpas and insist that they didn't really know what was going on, but know this: it's a load of b.s. everyone, including those at walmart, know exactly what is going on. and while what happened in bangladesh may well have been an accident, in the sense that it was not intentional, it should by no means be a surprise.

ironically, by artificially suppressing inflation and holding domestic workers' wages at a lower rate than they should be, walmart creates a marketplace where consumers simply can't afford things that are made at properly managed and carefully vetted factories. it's a very tricky situation where both sides of the tug-of-war have to be adjusted at the same time.

but one thing is clear: walmart is hurting both sides, while enriching themselves. and that's the sort of thing that people really can't afford to endorse.

[fyi, this is not to say that all large retailers are inherently bad. costco, for instance, is much tougher on their overseas suppliers while at the same time providing a higher standard of living to their workers and earning less margin on sales than walmart. so there.]

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

presidenting is hard :: these people are not your friends

hello mr. president! a while back, i promised that i would periodically be giving you some advice on how to do your job, since you seem a little unclear on how everything works. i didn't mean to go so long between missives, but the fact is that i've been busy and you're administration has been in overdrive giving me things to write about. what i've realised is that many of those things are ones i can't help you with: if you or anyone in your immediate circle worked with russians to compromise the 2016 election, that shit is done. robert mueller is going to find that out, because he's the kind of person who looks like the theme from dragnet just automatically starts playing every time he enters a room. so that's your problem. i'm just here to talk to you about what you can do now that you are, by law, the president. because, while chief detective mueller is doing his thing, we all need to live with your decisions. i'm even less happy about that than…

write brain

i was talking to a friend of mine about coffee, specifically about our mutual need for coffee, yesterday and, literally as i was in the middle of a thought, an idea occurred to me that i felt like i had to note. so there i am, scribbling a note to myself that was really just a word salad of related terms, which i later transformed into a weird but more comprehensible note that i could refer to later. [i don't want another beatriz coca situation on my hands.] i feel like this idea isn't a story on its own, but something that i could incorporate into a larger project, which is good, because i have a few of those.

now, of course, i need to sit down and do research on this, because it's become terribly important to me that the details of this weird little idea that i'm planning on incorporating into a larger thing be totally plausible, even though no one but me is ever going to care. i'm increasingly convinced that the goal of every writer is to find someone who will t…

luck of the irish?

i like st. patrick's day. i like the fact that there is a holiday that celebrates celtic-ness and drunkeness at once (you could argue they were pretty close to begin with). in fact, it's probably second only to halloween as my favourite publicly recognised holiday.

so every year, i have to have my little ritual and that ritual involves visiting a pub and partaking of the cheer. i've made attempts at watching parades in various cities, but i've more recently given up that practice because a) eight out of ten times, it's freezing cold and/ or snowing in canada on march 17th and b) the parades seem to consist entirely of trucks carrying people who are as drunk as i would be, if i weren't freezing my tush off watching them. so i've backed off the parade in recent years.

however, a visit to the pub, the longer the better, is still an important thing for me.

next year, however, i'm going to have to plan things a little better.

first of all, i didn't …