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?

wrong turn

as some of you are aware, i have a long-term project building a family tree. this has led me to some really interesting discoveries, like the fact that i am partly descended from crazy cat people, including the patron saint of crazy cat ladies, that a progenitor of mine once defeated a french naval assault with an army of scarecrows, that my well-established scottish roots are just as much norwegian as scottish, and that a relative of mine from the early middle ages let one rip with such ferocity that that's basically all he's remembered for. but this week, while i was in the midst of adding some newly obtained information, i found that some of my previous research had gone in an unexpected direction: the wrong one.

where possible, i try to track down stories of my better-known relatives and in doing so this week, i realised that i couldn't connect one of my greatĖ£ grandfathers to his son through any outside sources. what's worse that i found numerous sources that con…

dj kali & mr. dna @ casa del popolo post-punk night

last night was a blast! a big thank you to dj tyg for letting us guest star on her monthly night, because we had a great time. my set was a little more reminiscent of the sets that i used to do at katacombes [i.e., less prone to strange meanderings than what you normally hear at the caustic lounge]. i actually invited someone to the night with the promise "don't worry, it'll be normal". which also gives you an idea of what to expect at the caustic lounge. behold my marketing genius.

mr. dna started off putting the "punk" into the night [which i think technically means i was responsible for the post, which doesn't sound quite so exciting]. i'd say that he definitely had the edge in the bouncy energy department.

many thanks to those who stopped in throughout the night to share in the tunes, the booze and the remarkably tasty nachos and a special thank you to the ska boss who stuck it out until the end of the night and gave our weary bones a ride home…

eat the cup 2018, part seven :: oh, lionheart

it all seemed so magical: england's fresh-faced youngsters marching all the way through to a semi-final for the first time since 1990. everywhere, the delirious chants of "it's coming home". and then, deep into added time, the sad realization: it's not coming home. oh england, my lionheart.

now, if we're being really strict about things, my scottish ancestors would probably disown me for supporting England, because those are the bastards who drove them off their land and sent them packing to this country that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. and indeed, shops in scotland have sold through their entire stock of croatian jerseys, as the natives rallied behind england's opponents in the semi-final. however, a few generations before they were starved and hounded from the lands they'd occupied for centuries, my particular brand of scottish ancestors would have encouraged me to support england [assuming that national football had even…