TBogg

The Wal-Martian

One man’s trickle down is another man’s pissing from above

We don’t spend much time dealing with the weekly idiocies of John Tierney since the NY Times keep him safely locked up behind the Firewall of Dumb, but we really appreciate his timing with this little nugget:

I don’t want to begrudge the Nobel Peace Prize won last week by the Grameen Bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus. They deserve it. The Grameen Bank has done more than the World Bank to help the poor, and Yunus has done more than Jimmy Carter or Bono or any philanthropist.

But has he done more good than someone who never got the prize: Sam Walton? Has any organization in the world lifted more people out of poverty than Wal-Mart?

[…]

But there’s a limit to how much money villagers can make selling eggs to one another — a thatched ceiling, as Michael Strong calls it. Strong, the head of Flow, a nonprofit group promoting entrepreneurship abroad, is a fan of the Grameen Bank, but he figures that villagers can lift themselves out of poverty much faster by getting a job in a factory.

The best way for third world villagers to tap “the vast pipeline of wealth from the developed world,” he argued in a recent TCSDaily.com article, is to sell their products to the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart. Strong challenged anyone to name an organization that is doing more to alleviate third world poverty than Wal-Mart.

So far he’s gotten a lot of angry responses from Wal-Mart’s critics, but nobody has come up with a convincing nomination for a more effective antipoverty organization. And certainly none that saves money for Americans at the same time it’s helping foreigners…………..

As Steve notes:

Let’s start with the fact that Sam Walton is dead. A simple fact, and highly relevant.

Second, Strong is a fucking idiot.

Wal-Mart doesn’t alliviate poverty, it spreads it like a virus.

How? In China and the developing world, it demands greater and greater price savings on factory owners, who have to use repressive methods to keep their employees. It’s so bad, the Chinese government has allowed Wal Mart workers to unionize.

In the US, Wal Mart’ s predatory pricing forced Rubbermaid to close, and forces other suppliers to ship work overseas to meet Wal Mart’s pricing demands.

Every contract, Wal Mart demands greater savings from producers, demanding cost cutting. Most of the brand names sold in Wal Mart are substandard products with the same brand name. Snapper refused to sell to Wal Mart because of that practice.

Vlassic pickles, anyone?

Of course Tierney’s timing couldn’t have been worse:

Now, as Wal-Mart rolls out a new round of workplace restrictions, employees at a Wal-Mart Super Center in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., are taking matters into their own hands. On Oct. 16, workers on the morning shift walked out in protest against the new policies and rallied outside the store, shouting “We want justice” and criticizing the company’s recent policies as “inhuman.” Workers said the number of participants was about 200, or nearly all of the people on the shift.

[…]

The protest wasn’t led by any union group. Rather, it was instigated by two department managers, Guillermo Vasquez and Rosie Larosa. The department managers were not affected directly by the changes, but they felt that the company had gone too far with certain new policies. Among them were moves to cut the hours of full-time employees from 40 hours a week to 32 hours, along with a corresponding cut in wages, and to compel workers to be available for shifts around the clock.

In addition, the shifts would be decided not by managers, but by a computer at company headquarters. Employees could find themselves working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week and noon to 9 p.m. the next. “So workers cannot pick up their children after school everyday, and part-timers cannot keep another job because they can be called to work anytime,” says Vasquez.

In addition to scheduling changes and reduction in hours, workers are now required to call an 800 number when they are sick. “If we are at an emergency room and spend the night in a hospital and cannot call the number, they won’t respect that,” says Larosa, who has worked at the store for six years. “It will be counted as an unexcused absence.”

John Tierney thinks that these people never had it so good, when the fact is, they’ve never had it at all.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....