Monday, January 15, 2007

The Peoples' Champion?: Part II

Wal-Mart is a classic target for Democrats who think they know what working people want.

With the best will in the world, these Democrats get it wrong because they are not talking to 'real' working people.

The working poor of this country could not survive without the cheap goods that Wal-Mart, and stores like it, provide. And John, if you talked to the 'real' working poor, you'd know this.

Let's get real here.

Wal-Mart does not close down stores. Shoppers who choose to shop elsewhere close down stores.

The benefits offered to workers by Wal-Mart are no worse than other grocery stores. The problem is not Wal-Mart; it is the system.

Small, independent stores are no better for workers than Wal-Mart. They pay less; they do not hire disabled workers; and they often do not offer any healthcare.

Trade Unions aren't interested in alleviating poverty. Without the working poor, there would be no need for Trade Unions.

The bottom line, John, is this: you're not listening to 'real' working people. I know you need Trade Union support in the Primaries. But bless your heart, Trade Unions are not 'real' working people.

If you want to know what 'real' working people think about Wal-Mart, why don't you get off the photo-op picket line, and go and ask some of the shoppers - or some of the people who actually work quite happily at Wal-Mart?


American Nationalist said...

Thank you for this post. It's a great relief to see it.

Robert P said...

This is odd timing, since last night I heard your manager giving a lecture to someone on the economic costs of shopping somewhere like Trader Joe's versus a local co-op.

Also, every penny saved at Wal-Mart is spent by those same people (and those of us who don't shop there) to pay for health care for Wal Mart employees. You need to do some more research.

Look for the study that showed most hospital patients on medicaid in one north carolina county were Wal Mart employees.

Look for the study that compared overall prices between Wal Mart and other retailers, it shows that the "low" prices are a myth, that overall prices are the same.

Look for the study that compares working conditions and corporate profits between Wal Mart and Costco.

We don't NEED Wal Mart, what we need is a change in our national attitude that it is better to buy a crappy fake wood desk every two years, than one GOOD one that lasts for decades. It is only that attitude which keeps Wal mart in business.

'watch on the ninth' said...

You know, Robert, my first reaction was to say nothing, so that your last sentence would resonate more loudly - I agree with it so completely.

And I don't disagree with much of the rest of what you say. But let me add a little flavor.

Of course, the beauty of a co-op is that it is a democracy, and we are all entitled to our different views.

Thank you for the point about research. If I was in your position, I would make the same point. However, I look beyond the research.

Like it or not, within the crappy system that we have, the working poor look to the like of Wal-Mart to survive. And if one speaks to the shoppers and the workers at Wal-Mart, that is what one hears.

I want the system changed too. In the meantime, isn't it fair to say that campaigning against Wal-Mart is also campaigning against the working poor?

The fact is that helping to raise the many millions of poor above the poverty line is going to take contributions from everyone: government, individuals, corporations - and Wal-Mart.

But so long as the system allows them to get away with it, Wal-Mart - and other businesses - are going to go on dumping their share of the problem on the rest of us.

And just because Wal-Mart may or may not be the worst offender, is that any reason to take it out on those working people who shop and work at Wal-Mart?

It is this last point that, in my opinion, has caused so many 'real' working people to feel alienated from what they see as 'elite' Democrats, who pay attention only to reports, rather than talking with them.

Too often, as a consequence, Democratic leaders end up proposing solutions which they think are best for working people, but are not necessarily reflective of what 'real' working people actually want.

All of that said, robert p, I value the ongoing discourse. Thank you.