Okay, honestly, I wasn't going to say anything. I figured it was beneath my radar and I would just leave it alone.
… but then the barrage began.
Christmas Eve. Vicky and I are at my mom's house, giving presents, and Joe (I'm just too old to refer to him as my step-dad) launches into this jag about how Wal-Mart is such a good corporate citizen. Good corporate citizen, I asked? I was amazed that someone as lower-middle-class as Joe could be so brainwashed by corporate propaganda. They pay their employees dirt, they sell crap, and they're a driving force in the dumbing down of our nation's economy. He didn't buy it. He came back with that tired line about people being able to work elsewhere, shop elsewhere, or live elsewhere is they don't like it. And, of course, this is true, which is why that line is still around and so tired. What people don't consider is that it doesn't HAVE to be true. People CAN earn a better wage. Goods CAN be of a higher quality. Neighborhoods don't HAVE to be ghetto-ized. The fact that this would take some work, however, immediately delivers apathy.
Then, I saw a Wal-Mart commercial. It was about two parents who had worked at Wal-Mart all their lives. They'd met at Wal-Mart. Their son was now working with them at Wal-Mart. They had a house and a college education and their son was going to college as well. I was livid! What phenomenal bullshit! I've known people who work in those environments and they do not foster long-term employment; they burn their employees out and get new ones! They don't pay enough to afford college, let alone a home! And the thought of multi-generational employment reminds me far too painfully of 19th century mill workers or share croppers! The idea is to lift your kids up to a better way of life, people!
I thought that would be it.
I was wrong.
Wal-Mart, it seems has gone on the "defense". According to this Associated Press article, Wal-Mart is taking out full-page ads to help spread their propaganda. They say they their jobs pay well, really well… some at TWICE the minimum wage! TWICE! Okay, who are they kidding? Who's going to buy a home at $10-11/hour?! And how many jobs at Wal-Mart really pay that much to begin with? What kind of idiots do they think we are?
They also say they offer health insurance and 401K benefits…. Okay, let's stop here for a minute. Do you know how much it costs a company to offer these benefits? As little as NOTHING. Employers can offer benefits without contributing any money towards them and, with Wal-Mart not stating what they contribute - and the additional knowledge that they don't provide squat, which I learned during the grocery worker's strike of last year - I'm going to chalk this up as a meaningless statement.
So, how is this a defense? Well, it works fine if you buy into the pack of lies. If, however, you're aware of what's going on in the world - even in such a small corner as your local Wal-Mart (of which there are FAR too many) - you can see right through it and maybe you'll think twice about the effect you have in the world and how, even when you're buying a small item, you can change things for the better.