Wal-Mart Doesn’t Care About You

If you’ve lived long enough, you remember when Wal-Mart hung banners in their stores trumpeting the numbers of American jobs Wal-Mart helped preserve by buying American-made products.

When was the last time you saw those banners?

The answer to that question comes down to the death of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton in 1992. While Walton may have been a shrewd businessman who was always seeking the lowest cost, Walton still believed in America. Sadly, Walton had not been dead for more than a year when the “American-made” banners started falling from the rafters of his stores.

What that meant for America cannot be underestimated. Wal-Mart’s growth was largely fueled from the demise or destruction of American companies forced to compete against Communist China in the race to the pricing bottom. Wal-Mart Doesn’t Care About YouSam Walton once said, “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.” I’m certain that he did not intend that community to be Shanghai, yet building China at the expense of America appears to be the corporate vision for Wal-Mart today

This has been devastating for Ohio and for our local area.

Wal-Mart’s abandoning of American-made goods for Asian resulted in the gutting or outright demise of some well-known Ohio companies, notably Huffy Bicycles and Ohio Arts (the makers of Etch-a-Sketch). Wal-Mart’s race to the bottom took away hundreds, if not thousands, of well-paying Ohio jobs. Worse, it forced other companies to adopt the same abandonment of America. This has led to rapid growth in Asia, but stagnation and malaise here at home. Local and regional companies suffer—and we suffer along with them. Is our state better for any of this?

Wal-Mart is not a local company. It does business with very few companies in our area. Wal-Mart does not support us. Money they make goes to their headquarters in Arkansas and to their suppliers in China, money siphoned out of our local economy.

On the other hand, we do have Kroger in town that DOES support our local economy. Kroger is a Cincinnati-based company. Beyond the clerks and workers in our local store, Kroger employs thousands locally in other sources outside that store. Kroger supports regional farmers, too. And, as opposed to Wal-Mart, Kroger is a union shop that believes in fair wages.

I don’t work for Kroger. All I do is shop there. I believe that’s worth doing because Kroger impacts our region in positive ways that Wal-Mart does not. That keeps our region strong. It also prevents another regional company from going the way of Huffy, Ohio Arts, and companies like them that once employed Ohioans in good jobs, but now employee Communist Chinese workers in less-than-ideal ones.

What is best for our town and our county is to stimulate local and regional businesses, companies that are homegrown. If anything, Wal-Mart comes to town and puts those kinds of companies out of business so you can save a few pennies. And you’ll need those pennies, too, considering that it was your company Wal-Mart put out of business. Goodbye, mom and pop.

Wise people are beginning to understand the need to forgo big-box, global companies in favor of local and regional ones. For us to welcome Wal-Mart to town is to run counter to the new wisdom. In truth, that “new” wisdom is really the old wisdom that made this country great, not the false wisdom of globalization and the destruction of local economies. To continue to foster economic goals that hurt our region and our country at a time when people are wising up to the harm this does is to show us as little more than uneducated pawns in Wal-Mart’s conquering of the world.

America can do better. And so can our community by saying no to Wal-Mart.

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10 thoughts on “Wal-Mart Doesn’t Care About You

  1. While I don’t think any one company is perfect, I think the demonization of Wal-Mart is one that’s convenient for today. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing. Huffy moved to Missouri after it left Ohio and the factory was less than a mile from the home I had there until I moved to Denver. Sadly, after the 5-year TIF district expired on Huffy’s factory, they up and closed the shop and moved all operations to Mexico even though their bicycles were in our local Wal-Mart store. There’s a restaurant on the strip in Farmington, Missouri that was named for Huffy’s move to the city. It’s called “Spokes” and it still stands today even though Huffy long since moved in 2000.

    Unions aren’t the answer either. As soon as the local grocers union here were given a huggge wage hike after striking, several local Albertson’s and King Soopers (Kroger’s brand in the West) closed costing many their new “higher paying” jobs. Seems there wasn’t enough in the kitty to make it worthwhile and the union was told that but pressed on anyway. Had they relented and taken a lower wage hike, about 70% of those jobs would have remained.

    Until our government steps up and stops the imports from communist nations like China, Wal-Mart and every dollar store in town will continue to import that stuff. The battle isn’t with Wal-Mart. It should be with those government officials who see fit to line their pockets with China’s money by allowing the free-flow of Chinese made goods into our borders. That’s where I take my battle…and those who fruitlessly fight the Wal-Mart corporation will need to as well. Wal-Mart isn’t deterred by the battles. It expects them and budgets for them and their pockets are large…very large.

  2. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I do believe our opinions should be informed ones. Those who don’t think Wal-Mart presents a problem to American communities may not be aware of all the issues. This isn’t about demonizing a company. It’s about reflecting on what our priorities are, and what values we want to protect. I found “The High Cost of Low Prices” to be informative and thought provoking. It’s available to be watched online free of charge at http://video.google.com/.

  3. Fighting Walmart is far from fruitless. There is a growing list of communities that have successfully done it, mostly as the result of civic effort. But even some city governments have intervened: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20061129-9999-1n29walboxes.html

    I support your effort. Check out the fact sheet of this far-from-perfect company: http://www.walmartmovie.com/facts.php They are mind-boggling! Not to mention their racial and gender discrimination.

    As far as unions not being the answer, it is hard to imagine not unionizing under these conditions: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/facts/ and I come from a strongly anti-union family. But let’s weigh out the facts. I do agree that Walmart is just a front for the ease of imports from China, but until we stop consuming them, the market will dictate this course of action.

    Another helpful resource: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/

  4. Scott – Stick around and read a few of the posts soon to come to this site!

    Sarah – Wal-Mart used to be a great company, but when Sam Walton died they forgot who made them great.

    Riley – A Wal-Mart destined for N. KY was prevented by the community there. Yes, it can be done. There are already five Wal-Marts within 30 miles of my home. We simply don’t need another one, especially after what I’ve seen happen to some of those communities.

  5. Once Wal-Mart starts giving more money to the Democrats and to the unions and to other liberal elements, folks like this will give up on bashing a great American company.
    The people of Brown County will welcome Wal-Mart. I bet this blog was started by liberal interloper, and not a native Brown Countian.

  6. Actually, Mak, you could not be more wrong.

    I have been a resident of Brown County since 2001. I’m a born-again Christian and a hardcore conservative. My father was a lifetime member of the NRA and I support the NRA wholeheartedly. When I was younger, I was a champion marksman as a Boy Scout and I can knock a cicada out of the top of a tree without even trying.

    I am also someone very concerned about my community and my country. In other words, I’ve done the research to know why Wal-Mart is bad for both.

  7. How about that monstrosity of a Kroger on 68? That union shop shut down some fine small businesses in Mt. Orab, but I don’t remember a blog being started over that. I would bet you dollars to donuts that if Wal-Mart was a United Food and Commercial Workers shop then the leftists in this country wouldn’t be going after them so hard. Remember, Wal-Mart was fine back when the Clintons served on their board, and back before they sold groceries, but when they stepped on the toes of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union by doing so they were vilified.

  8. I have linked to a great commentary by Paul Kirklin on the benefits of Wal-Mart, but here is just a bit from the article that sums of Wal-Mart detractors to a tee.

    “Many of Wal-Mart’s critics are socialists who probably resent the fact that Wal-Mart provides an increasingly clear example of how capitalism can shower abundance on its entire population, as their socialist utopias never could. Many of the critics seem to be motivated by fear of change and fear of economic progress. They have a deep distrust of economic freedom and see doom and gloom around every corner as an economy is advancing. In the past, people like this denounced innovations like the assembly line and mass production for many of the same reasons that they denounce Wal-Mart today. They said that these new methods of production would reduce us all to miserable cogs in a machine enslaved to our employers. It is ironic that their intellectual descendants now panic at the thought of losing assembly-line manufacturing jobs overseas because of Wal-Mart. The next generation of ignorant critics will probably complain about the loss of Wal-Mart jobs to more efficient producers.

    The truth about Wal-Mart’s critics is that they aren’t really interested in economics at all, but they know that in order to be taken seriously they have to pretend to be addressing the issue from a rational point of view. Economic science is complicated and poorly understood by most people, so propagandists often use it as a tool to lend credibility to their arguments. By misusing economic concepts, terminology, and statistics, Wal-Mart’s critics have been able to give many people the impression that they are on the side of science. I hope this essay has demonstrated the utter fallaciousness of that impression.

    The Wal-Mart critics’ understanding of economics isn’t much better than could be expected of a small child. They are incapable of seeing anything except the most direct effects of an action or policy in the short-term. If a child sees something he wants, he takes it, and so do Wal-Mart’s critics. Never mind if this causes destruction and decline in the long-term for the economic system as a whole and unemployment and impoverishment for those they are allegedly trying to help.

    Everything that the critics claim to be against is caused by the policies that they seek to enact. They claim to be against unemployment, but then seek to avoid unemployment by enacting the very thing that causes unemployment. They claim to be against wage earner impoverishment, but then seek to enact policies that would cause such impoverishment. Wal-Mart’s critics are the economic equivalent of hysterical quack doctors running around trying to cure an imaginary health epidemic by injecting people with real diseases.”

  9. Mak,

    Kroger is headquartered in Cincinnati. Supporting Kroger supports our community. Supporting Wal-Mart doesn’t. It’s that simple.

  10. Dear DLE, your entire post about Wal-Mart is excellent and straight forward. You highlight the long-standing problem of corporations in this country being allowed to transfer their manufacturing to places with slave-labor wages and conditions, ironically like we had in the U.S. in many places before people got a clue and started demanding improvement. The race to the bottom for both product cost and labor costs is ultimately unsustainable. Corporate bosses will get their nugget and get out eventually, leaving the devastation of working people scrambling and fighting with each other for the crumbs.

    Mak, in trying to transfer blame to so-called “socialists” and liberals is pulling the expected dirty trick of the ever-selfish, short-sighted conservative. Anyone looking closely at unfettered, unregulated capitalism can see that it is NOT a perfect system and that it will eventually lead to a modern form of feudalism. There has never been any pure form of socialism, or communism that has played out successfully so far either, except in small cases of coummunal farm setups or Co-Ops, and even those can have porblems as their populations change with age and other vagaries of time and circumstance. The reason why Regulated Capitalism may be the lesser of evils in all flawed systems is becasue there HAS to be people fighting for what they think is right and fair… against the total greed and power of the privileged class by the less fortunate. All of this has been around for eons, and Kings and peasants is not the model any of us want that have a basic understanding of humanity and history.

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