Wal-mart: The Unstoppable Corporate Machine

    Wal-mart is often portrayed as a huge corporate machine, destroying everything in its path. It is said Wal-mart executives are motivated by greed and are unfair to their employees. One key issue overlooked by these claims is the fact that every Wal-mart location relies on two forces in order to survive: employees and customers. A Wal-mart location cannot thrive without customers. Nor can it exist without employees to service customers’ needs. Therefore, it is the choice of the community to enable a Wal-mart location to succeed or fail.
    It has been argued that the arrival of a Wal-mart, especially to a rural location means the destruction of all competition and therefore all other potential opportunities for employment. This would seem inevitable as lower prices drive business away from smaller companies who do not have the strength to buy in bulk or the willingness to pay their employees the low wages Wal-mart pays. But it is up to the citizens of a town to decide low prices are more important. It is up to the citizens of a town to decide they want to work at Wal-mart.
    So let’s say a town is, figuratively swallowed up by the arrival of a new Wal-mart location. Citizens of the town made bad choices and shopped and worked at Wal-mart until all “Mom and Pop” stores and any other competition were gone. But, it was the decision of the citizens to patronize the establishment in the first place. It would certainly seem possible for a single adult to move away from such a lifeless town. An adult with a family has to weigh his or her options when it comes to remaining in a town that has had the life drained out of it by a Wal-mart: Home equity, schools, family. There would seem to always be a choice.
    Let’s say a family in one of these towns lives in sever poverty. The single parent works at Wal-mart and is barley able, with the help of Medicare, to feed his or her family. There is no money to save for a relocating of the family. Now days, one can get a small loan online. This kind of loan would just be enough for gas to the next town, where one could begin to work for a fair wage. Let’s say, somehow, Wal-mart managed to put the library out of business as well. Our poverty stricken family has no means of accessing the Internet. Surely there is something in the possession of the family that it worth some money. If you find yourself working in one of these towns where Wal-mart has completely destroyed all other businesses, you have no access to the Internet, and no means to gain gas money to transport your family to the next town, message this author and he’ll float you $20.
    From what this author understands, it is not Wal-mart’s goal to make their employees victims. It is their goal to be as profitable as possible. It is this drive for profits that leads to employees working off the clock with threat of dismissal if they refuse. It is this drive for profit that causes Wal-mart execs to keep lower level employee wages as low as they are. Still, it is the employee who accepts these low wages. It is the consumer/taxpayers who say we don’t mind paying for Medicare for Wal-mart employees.
    The Wal-mart business design is built around low prices via low wages. If the wages or the social problems Wal-mart causes are problematic for their employees or their customers, it is up to their employees or customers to refuse to do business with the company. The encouraging of employees by management to take advantage of low-income programs like Medicare may cost those of us who do not shop at Wal-mart, but our system of government has in place aide for those who need it at the cost of those who don’t. Although this problem is one that could have been avoided, the same could be said about drug addiction. The SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) budget for 2013 includes $1,812,769,000 for substance abuse treatment alone. This is more than one billion dollars spent on a problem that is arguably preventable.
    The Wal-mart problem was not created by Wal-mart alone. The problem was created and continues as a result of our willingness to work for lower wages than we can live on and willingness to put our desire for lower prices before the well beings of others and our desire to not pay for Wal-mart employees’ Medicare. Although Wal-mart may behave as disease, moving to new location and destroying much around it, we are the life-blood of that disease. Any Wal-mart location may not exist without the support of the community via employees and customers.

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