Disparate Liberal Debutante

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6/12/2006

'organic' the new 'lowest prices ever!'

I hate WalMart. They're really one of those 'where do I even start' issues. The truth about Walmart is their workers receive unfair wages...the average Walmart worked in 2001 earned $13,861, where as the poverty level was at $14,630. From StatsCan, in 1999 it cost $23,705 to support a family with one parent and one child comfortably in Canada. And it's not like Walmart can't afford a raise, their prices are low enough, and so many people shop there that increasing the price of say...a pack of paper from the $0.99 to $1, anually that would add up to $1,800 for each employee (Walmart-Annual Report 2005). There there are those other validated stories that workers are sometimes forced to work off the clock, short changing Mexicans, Texans and Chicago...nians?...Walmart also only covers 48% of their employees with health care plans which are horribly restictive anyway. There are like a zillion things with walmart and healthcare....go here to read about it. Also, the tax dollars of people end up paying for Walmart's greed, here is a PDF fact sheet on that...

Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed

  • The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. [“Harper’s Index,” Harper’s Magazine, Vol. 310, No. 1858, 3/2005]
  • One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:
    • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
    • $42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.
    • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
    • $100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.
    • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)
    • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.
Yes yes, lots of bad things. It also pulls almost a monopolistic characterisitcs...with the size of its presence, and stupidly low prices. And of course, it wouldn't be a rant by me if I didn't mention its effects on the environment. The company has violated the Clean Water Act in 9 different states. In Massachusetts, New Mexico, Okalahoma and Texas it released dischage into waters, which can lead to build ups, and ecological disruption. In Pennsylvania Walmart was fined for polluting water, and in Florida for having unregistered fuel tanks that would overflow, and were not up to date. And finally in Georgia Walmart was fined for water contamination. As you can see just from that, there are a lot of ...not so awesome things with Walmart, you can read a more complete list here. That site doesn't go into urban sprawl, which happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves, and is often associated with big box companies building just on the outskirts of cities allowing for suburban houses to be built, unnecessarily expanding the cities. Anyway this post isn't about all those reasons that Walmart sucks, its about the fact that Walmart is going to be introducing lines of organic products. I love organic produts, I love going to organic markets and looking at all the neat new things they have, and really feeling good after purchasing an entire grocery list of organic, fair trade products. But here is my beef. First of all, I think it's hypocritical of Walmart to start selling organic/fair trade, I think it would be awesome if more people bought that way, but...just something seems out of place with Walmart doing it. Second of all, Walmart doesn't like competition, and its a rich enough company, that those fair trade/organic markets that I go to, are tiny ants in a giants race for stores, Walmart could easily decrease their prices on organics to out do those independent markets virtually putting them out of business. That really, really irritates me.
The dynamic is tense, and extremely interesting. Here’s the money quote from the Wal-Mart side: “At Wal-Mart, executives say a rebirth is occurring inside their no-frills headquarters. "Sustainability" and "trend-right" have entered the corporate lexicon alongside "everyday low prices."”
It would be cool if the entire world was hit by a 'trend' of organic shopping, but...it can't jsut be a trend, and Walmart would be selling them for all the wrong reasons. It just really pisses me off I guess to see huge corporate capitalist pigs chaseing after organics and fair trade like its a huge prize to be won. I don't want it just to be a trend, I don't want people to be buying organics because it seems like the high class, trendy thing to do. I want people to *realize* there is a reason that people buy organic, and an even bigger reason as to why things are labelled as fair trade. People shopping at Walmart buying the organic trend won't look into these things....it'll be like buying a tickle me elmo...no one knows why they were awesome, but everyone had to have one.
|| Kian, 11:24:00 PM