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moosnsqrl

Gourmet's Wal-Mart article

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Again, don't go if you don't like them! Yes, lots of commercial farming is done by large companies now, that started with the advent of widely available refrigeration and transportation capability many years ago. Since then we have achieved a goal of an affordable, dependable food supply as life expectancies keep going up year after year. It's really not that ominous, don't worry, be happy, and not hungry foodies!

This is a common response to those who question factory farming and its purported benefits. As the variety of produce on our shelves has increased so too have the kilometres they travelled to get there. Consider both the fuel consumption and emissions of a truck that crosses 3000 miles or more to bring you a Mango from South America, or a ship that consumes petroleum while at sea to deliver those luscious San Marzanos.

In terms of an affordable and dependable food supply I would say neither is really the case, and that factory farming doesn't deserve any awards for securing our food supply. In the last 40-50 years we've become accustomed to food being exactly that...affordable and dependable. We rarely if ever expect to pay more than $1.00 for bananas despite their actual cost being closer to $2.00 a bunch (in Canadian that is) if fair wages, transportation costs and re-investment into the communities where their grown was a part of the Del Monte pricing equation.

The only "dependent" aspect to factory farming is a dependency on oil. It's required to transport these products to every store in North America, and in its refined form it's needed for the production of agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers.

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I was surprised to find LAURA CHENEL GOAT CHEESE in the cheese cooler at Sam's Club. $5.85 a pound. No WAY.

Bought some. Took it home, tasted it. Yup, goat cheese, not distinguished at all, but goat cheese. Started looking at the label more closely.

Aha. It was LAURA CHENEL "SELECT," which I'm guessing means they sold the NAME to be slapped on production goat cheese. Made in Canada, the fine print said.

Mystery solved.

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This is a common response to those who question factory farming and its purported benefits. As the variety of produce on our shelves has increased so too have the kilometres they travelled to get there. Consider both the fuel consumption and emissions of a truck that crosses 3000 miles or more to bring you a Mango from South America, or a ship that consumes petroleum while at sea to deliver those luscious San Marzanos.

So you are suggesting that we should only eat food grown locally? Is this really a tenable solution? What about folks living in Northern latitudes? Sorry, no fruit for you New England resident, it's January. Enjoy your scurvy and have a nice day! :raz:

These evil factory farms :rolleyes: are located in places where the crops grow best and are farmed on a large scale because of the greater yield/acre. If all food was grown locally, we'd all have to be farmers to produce enough to simply subsist and that's without the huge variety of food we now enjoy.

No thank you.

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As the son of a former small business owner, I feel for the mom and pop places that are hurt by the opening of Walmart and Target Superstores. In my hometown of Waterville, ME, they just closed the Walmart, after the drag that it is on seemed to practically go under (a hardware store, a grocery store, a Rich's Department store, several auto parts places), making my town seem more white-trashy than it realy is.

That being said, when the Wal-Mart came to the town, everyone was up in arms about it, saying that the above woudl happen. And youknow what? They were right. You know why? Because they shopped there, instead of recognizing that if they shopped at hte local shops, they would help them survive. It was ok to say that they liked the local shops before Wally World opened, but when it came time to spend the dollar, they chose to save a couple of pennies on a roll of toilet paper. So, who's to blame? Sam Walton or the people of Waterville?

BTW, I shop at Target, not becasue it is closer or it is cheaper, but becuase it is cleaner and more organized than Wal-Mart. When we had the hurricanes last year, Walmart was a bomb, crap just everywhere (not much unlike most days, but it happened to be more than usual), people fighting over water and batteries. Went to Target, it was quiet, all lanes were open, pallets of batteries and flashlights when Walmart was rationing... it was like a whole different world. And you know what? The people at Target smile at you and seem to at least care that you are a person. I was at Walmart the other day (late night shopping, my only gripe about Target), and the cashier that was checking me out was talking on a cell phone while ringning me out. That is crap. Maybe people at Wal-Mart can't earn a living wage because they don't have the skills (people or otherwise) to get a better paying job. Life is like a mattress (not that foam crap that doesnt' move when you jump on it, a real spring mattres), when you move one part of it, the rest of it moves, when you drop out of high school, you're not gonna make a good wage, when you dress and talk like trash, you are not going to make a decent wage or get decent benefits. For every action, there is a reaction, good or bad, a consequence for all things. For the good people who work for less than they desserve, I feel for you, but I have never come accross an associate at WalMart that impressed me with anything about themselves. I'm not sayign that it doesn't exist, I am saying that I have never seen it.

Ok, rip me a new one.... I am ready to hear it....

Oh, and I like to build things out of cheese too.......

(Edited to say that Wal-Mart always looks trashed, not just when hurricanes threaten)


Edited by Tonyy13 (log)

Tonyy13

Owner, Big Wheel Provisions

tony_adams@mac.com

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BTW, I shop at Target, not becasue it is closer or it is cheaper, but becuase it is cleaner and more organized than Wal-Mart.  When we had the hurricanes last year, Walmart was a bomb, crap everywhere, people fighting over water and batteries.  Went to Target, it was quiet, all lanes were open, pallets of batteries and flashlights when Walmart was rationing... it was like a whole different world.  And you know what?  The people at Target smile at you and seem to at least care that you are a person. 

We don't have a local Target but I prefer to drive the 45 miles to the nearest Target than shop at Wal-Mart for ALL the reasons you mentioned. What's even more terrifying is that our dirty and dark Wal-Mart is about to become a Superstore. God help us all. We'll lose at least one grocery store because of it I have no doubt. You couldn't pay me to shop at our Wal-Mart now, but I won't shop for food there - ever. Just the thought of it makes my skin crawl.

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BTW, I shop at Target, not becasue it is closer or it is cheaper, but becuase it is cleaner and more organized than Wal-Mart.  When we had the hurricanes last year, Walmart was a bomb, crap everywhere, people fighting over water and batteries.  Went to Target, it was quiet, all lanes were open, pallets of batteries and flashlights when Walmart was rationing... it was like a whole different world.  And you know what?  The people at Target smile at you and seem to at least care that you are a person. 

I agree. My local Wal-Marts are not clean or organized, and the employees take out their misery on the customers. In my opinion, their fresh meats and produce are of a lower quality than my local grocery stores.

For those who have been looking for statistics on what Wal-Mart costs taxpayers, here are some good estimates:

$420,750: the estimated federal taxpayer cost to operate one 200-person Wal-Mart store for one year. Here’s how it breaks down:

• $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families

• $42,000 a year fro Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.

• $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of households with a child and 50 are married with two children.

• $100,000 a year a year for the additional Title I Expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.

• $108,000 a year for the additional federal heath care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.

• $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance

Source: Every Day Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart. Report by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives, February 16, 2004.

And here are some actual statistics in a few states:

In Alabama 3,864 children of Wal-Mart employees were on the Medicaid rolls. The cost to Alabama taxpayers was over $5.8 million. In Florida 12,300 Wal-Mart employees or their dependents qualify for Medicaid, while in Tennessee 9,617 Wal-Mart employees—a whopping one in four of Wal-Mart’s total payroll of 37,000 employees statewide—are on Medicaid.

Sort of makes saving 25 cents on a can of tomatoes seem pretty insignificant.

It's like concern over biodiversity only on a macro level. If everyone is growing only one kind of corn, raising only one kind of cow, etc, we are at much higher risk for something along the lines of the Irish potato famine to occur, and this type of practice pushes us into that danger zone.

I agree with this, too. By 2007, Wal-Mart is expected to control 35 percent of food and drug sales in the U.S., which, IMO, really pushes us into that danger zone.


Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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For me one interesting thing about Wal-Mart and similar stores has less to do with food than with the other stuff they sell: Wal-Mart is apparently a very large player in the new Chinese economy. A very large number of their products are manufactured in China at artificially low cost. I'm not talking about what China pays its factory workers, or how much attention it pays to international environmental laws (though these things may be worth thinking about) but rather that China has taken steps to keep its currency artificially low relative to the dollar by subsidizing American debt. In other words, none of the cheap goods we are importing from them are priced at their true value. Back in my econ days, I would have thought a weak dollar and a trade deficit were mutually contradictory, but that's where we are right now. I'm not saying WalMart is the cause, but a symptom. We pay low prices for things that turn out to have high hidden costs.

Someone upthread asked what to do. I certainly wouln't shut down places like Wal-mart -- but I do think we should try and see where we might be unwittingly subsidizing them and factor that cost in accordingly. Also, if they are busting unions and undercutting small businesses there are some serious legal issues that are not being addressed, but given the country's current climate there doesn't seem to be a lot of sympathy for such issues. Too bad.

Now I need to stop wasting time and get back to my work. (Thankfully not econ, at least for a while!)

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Hi, folks,

Liza Featherstone's book, Selling Women Short: The Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart, provides the kind of data people have asked for on this thread. An adapted excerpt is available at: http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050103&s=featherstone

Liza's a well-respected investigative journalist. I also suggest Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. You can also check out www.walmartwatch.org.

I also point out several things:

-Employees at Wal-Mart do not receive discounts on grocery items.

-Full-time at Wal-Mart means 28 or 29 (I apologize, I forget which) hours per week. Such few hours combined with such low hourly wages are why so many full-time Wal-Mart employees qualify for emergency food boxes, among other forms of public assistance.

-In regard to future food choices for consumers, please keep in mind this is the same company that refuses to sell uncensored CDs and DVDs. And refuses to fill certain 100% legal prescriptions for women, such as the morning-after pill.

It's regrettable their low prices are so necessary for so many people. I feel fortunate to have the resources, and options, to shop elsewhere. Too many people don't.

Ingrid


My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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A lot of the anti-Wal-Mart agitation is classism.  I

It has been documented though. This is not just WalMart employees but those that they write contracts with. They've put many companies they've written contracts with in dire financial difficulty.

see if this is still available for starters: http://www.missoulanews.com/Archives/News.asp?no=4608

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Here's an interesting (and loooong) article on the anti Wal-mart battles being fought in the greater DC area. The major drivers are the food workers unions. The bill passed in Maryland mandating health care spending by private employers with over 10,000 employees was lobbied heavily by the unions (including hefty donations).

Here's some wage and benefit data from the article:

Unionized grocery chains do the same, but they simply cannot match Wal-Mart's buying power or its lower labor costs. Wal-Mart's hourly wage in the Washington region is $10.08, while Giant's and Safeway's is $13.19, the companies said. With overtime, the figure rises to $16 an hour for the union chains. Giant's and Safeway's health care plans cost the chains $12,249 for every full-time employee, nearly twice what Wal-Mart pays for a typical family plan, the companies said. Wal-Mart's cost for health benefits depend on the plan and deductible chosen by employees. While Wal-Mart workers have a 401(k) plan, with the chain matching up to 4 percent of employee contributions, depending on annual profit, Giant and Safeway are required by the union contract to pay into a more expensive pension plan.

So, the unionized stores do pay more, don't know how much of that goes back in union dues, but still, $10/hour is twice the minimum wage. The health care plans for the union cost twice as much. I wonder if they're twice as good? I bet they're about the same and the extra expenditures mandated by the union contract provide the extra money needed to slush around in your lobbying efforts. Same for the retirement benefits, gotta keep the money flowing to the union bosses and the politicians!

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Here's an interesting (and loooong) article on the anti Wal-mart battles being fought in the greater DC area.  The major drivers are the food workers unions.  The bill passed in Maryland mandating health care spending by private employers with over 10,000 employees was lobbied heavily by the unions (including hefty donations).

Here's some wage and benefit data from the article:

Unionized grocery chains do the same, but they simply cannot match Wal-Mart's buying power or its lower labor costs. Wal-Mart's hourly wage in the Washington region is $10.08, while Giant's and Safeway's is $13.19, the companies said. With overtime, the figure rises to $16 an hour for the union chains. Giant's and Safeway's health care plans cost the chains $12,249 for every full-time employee, nearly twice what Wal-Mart pays for a typical family plan, the companies said. Wal-Mart's cost for health benefits depend on the plan and deductible chosen by employees. While Wal-Mart workers have a 401(k) plan, with the chain matching up to 4 percent of employee contributions, depending on annual profit, Giant and Safeway are required by the union contract to pay into a more expensive pension plan.

So, the unionized stores do pay more, don't know how much of that goes back in union dues, but still, $10/hour is twice the minimum wage.  The health care plans for the union cost twice as much.  I wonder if they're twice as good?  I bet they're about the same and the extra expenditures mandated by the union contract provide the extra money needed to slush around in your lobbying efforts.  Same for the retirement benefits, gotta keep the money flowing to the union bosses and the politicians!

Sorry, forgot the link!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...52200742_3.html

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I am very very afraid...of the people who don't realize how bad WalMart is.

I stopped at one in American Canyon on my way to Napa last week...what an ugly hellhole. I did this deliberately, knowing I was entering a temple of evil, a place that destroys local economies.

When I tell you I left screaming, believe me. It was filled with the most dronelike people, wandering blank-eyed down the aisles. Even though it was lit with charming fluorescent lighting, it appeared dark in there.

I got in line behind a waddling woman with the worst case of biscuit poisoning I've ever seen. In an eerie déjà vu to the day before, she wanted to purchase gift cards. I was in a bit of a rush, and had only one item to pay cash for. (If I'd known she was going to take so long, I easily could have beat her lumbering butt to the cashier's stand, but I was being nice. Big mistake.)

I said to the cashier, "I only have this one thing. Could I give her the cash and you ring it up with her stuff, so I can get out of here?" I was so polite, of course! Old ladies love me.

The woman's fat face screwed up tightly, and she whined/hissed, "I don't want to do that!!!"

I was absolutely dumbstruck. I said (and I have no shame about this, so don't try to make me feel bad!): "OH MY GOD, YOU HORRIBLE, MEAN OLD WOMAN! NO WONDER PEOPLE THINK WALMART IS SO EVIL! ACK!" and the cashier kind of stupidly mumbled (she might have had a lobotomy), "You c'n go over there and do the self-serve register if you wanna."

Yes, I wanted to. That nasty old cow probably thinks she is a pious woman, but I'm here to tell you that WalMart f-r-e-a-k-e-d me out.

So yes, avoid WalMart like the plague. It really is a horrible place with bad business practices, and I wish I could find the link to the terrible story I read about Horizon. I won't buy their milk anymore, but get my organic milk from other sources.

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I wish I could find the link to the terrible story I read about Horizon. I won't buy their milk anymore, but get my organic milk from other sources.

I read that article too, I think, and I can't find it either. Here's a similar article, though.

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I got in line behind a waddling woman with the worst case of biscuit poisoning I've ever seen.
I easily could have beat her lumbering butt to the cashier's stand, but I was being nice.
The woman's fat face screwed up tightly, and she whined/hissed, "I don't want to do that!!!"
That nasty old cow probably thinks she is a pious woman

Wow. I'm not sure what to even say to this. So if walmart customers were skinnier and they had better lighting, the business practices would be less of an issue?

Sorry, I hate walmart too but...this isn't really helping the argument any.


Edited by Behemoth (log)

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I wish I could find the link to the terrible story I read about Horizon. I won't buy their milk anymore, but get my organic milk from other sources.

I read that article too, I think, and I can't find it either. Here's a similar article, though.

Did the article you saw have a photo of the zillion cows, with a shot of the Horizon cartoon logo cow, saying, "This is probably the only happy cow here"? Something like that? It was a filthy place, like the stockyards on I-5 that you can smell ten miles away in the summertime.

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I got in line behind a waddling woman with the worst case of biscuit poisoning I've ever seen.
I easily could have beat her lumbering butt to the cashier's stand, but I was being nice.
That nasty old cow probably thinks she is a pious woman

Wow. I'm not sure what to even say to this. So if walmart customers were skinnier and they had better lighting, the business practices would be less of an issue.

Sorry, I hate walmart too but this is sort of offensive.

Hey, I am overweight, but this isn't about THAT. She was just the embodiment of Jabba the Hutt. Some people are fat and they don't look fat. Some people look heavy and dark. She did. Very dark in the eyes, especially.

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Hey, I am overweight, but this isn't about THAT. She was just the embodiment of Jabba the Hutt. Some people are fat and they don't look fat. Some people look heavy and dark. She did. Very dark in the eyes, especially.

You mean, um, spiritually dark, I hope? :huh:


Edited by Behemoth (log)

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Somehow Target and Costco have been given a pass on such scrutiny.  And yet, the aforementioned dread Horizon milk is found at Costco, a company whose buyers are certainly ruthless on their price point and supply demands.  I would imagine Target's are no different.

Are Target's employees paid more than Wal-Mart's?  And do they all, even part-timers, have company-paid health insurance?

A lot of the anti-Wal-Mart agitation is classism.  I fail to see how shopping at Target or Costco is more pure or noble than shopping at Wal-Mart.

I don't know the specifics for Target, but Costco employees are paid more and do receive health benefits. As a result, their turnover rates are much lower than industry standards. Not only that, but in a recent survey of supermarkets, specialty stores and warehouse clubs by Supermarket News, Costco actually edged out Sam's Club with slightly better pricing.

I work in sourcing for a major grocery store holding company, and in the industry Costco is seen as both a shining star in terms of the way they treat their employees and a beacon of hope as one of the few players who has so far beaten Wal-Mart at their own game.

One of the major criticisms of Walmart is their extremely aggressive labor tactics. Almost every attempt by any of their employees to unionize has been squashed. The most famous example is for meat cutters: when the meat cutters at one Walmart managed to successfully form a union, Walmart eliminated butchers from all their stores and went to prepacked meat. Also, stories abound about how if any particular store does try to unionize, the workers are called at their homes and harassed and threatened so they will not form unions. The funny thing is, I personally am not pro-union (some of my company's grocery chains have been through union negotiations in the past few years, and I'm not convinced the unions are doing the best for the workers they represent OR the company as a whole), but I do find Walmart's labor practices reprimandable.

But like I said, I work on the sourcing side, so my knowledge of the labor side isn't as detailed. But on the sourcing side, Walmart is notorious among suppliers for strong arming them. I have heard from countless suppliers that Walmart flat out told them to move their production to China to lower costs or risk losing the contract. There are also cases where suppliers have been forced to sell their products to Walmart at prices below their costs.

How does this make sense? When I first started in this job, I didn't understand why any company would sell at a loss. If Walmart wanted them to sell at below cost, wouldn't the producer logically say no, since they would lose on every sale? But it's not as simple as that. Walmart is THE largest retailer in the world. If Walmart says jump, you jump. If your product is not on a Walmart shelf, it basically falls of the retail screen. So suppliers will sell at a loss or at break even at Walmart just to keep market share and keep their brand name in the marketplace. Of course they have to make it up elsewhere, so other retailers can't get nearly as good of a deal, and thus Walmart's prices are even lower compared to everyone else. And so the cycle continues. It's gotten to the point where some retailers have realized they can't make money selling at Walmart, yet if they pull out of Walmart they also go out of business due to the vast drop in market share. There have been some attempts to try to band against Walmart, such as toy makers several seasons ago joining together and all agreeing not to sell their "hot" toys at Walmart that Christmas, but these attempts are few and far between.

At the same time, I don't have a "blame it all on Walmart, they're brainwashing everyone" mentality. Not at all. Walmart has succeeded because people consistently choose them over mom and pops, etc. And I've been in enough mom and pops to know that many of them aren't the wonderful, personal places we've romanticized them into. A lot of them were small, not very well kept up, had very limited selections, very high prices, and no customer service to speak of. That's why Walmart succeeded, because the competition couldn't justify their higher prices for the exact same items. Walmart strong suit is in rural areas, where in a lot of cases they are better than the local options. They are struggling in urban markets because people do have choices, and higher incomes too.

And frankly, you have to give them credit where credit is due. Their supply chain is incredible. There is no waste at all in that company. I certainly can't say the same for my own. But they do intimidate and coerce their suppliers and their employees, and because of their sheer size they affect every single last bit of the supply chain, either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, they do contribute to the homogenization of America (and, more and more, the world) but for a lot of people that can mean more variety at lower costs.

Frankly, the buyers and negotiators at my company are very tough. You have no other choice in this marketplace. But we do consider quality, customer service, treatment of employees, etc when we evaluate a supplier's price. In an industry where suppliers are used to being beat up on price, Walmart is legendary as being the worst of them all.

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That being said, when the Wal-Mart came to the town, everyone was up in arms about it, saying that the above woudl happen.  And youknow what?  They were right.  You know why?  Because they shopped there, instead of recognizing that if they shopped at hte local shops, they would help them survive.  It was ok to say that they liked the local shops before Wally World opened, but when it came time to spend the dollar, they chose to save a couple of pennies on a roll of toilet paper.  So, who's to blame?  Sam Walton or the people of Waterville? 

Quite a few years ago (like 8-9), NPR from Orono, Maine did a series on what happened when Wal-Mart came to town. It was interesting. The reporter tracked several businesses over the course of the year. Some businesses went about things the way they always did and went under. Other businesses re-examined their models and changed their strategies and succeeded.

One of the success stories was a hardware store. The owner realized he could never compete with Wal-Mart on the price of cheap paint or a Mr. Coffee maker, so he dropped the lines and went upscale. He purposely carried more expensive, higher quality brands of paint, tools and appliances not found at Wal-Mart. A year after the Wal-Mart opened, he was making more than before.


S. Cue

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Thanks to those of you pointing out the hidden costs of Wal*Mart and providing documentation in my absence. I would add the same holds true with remediating the effects of factory farming. Whenever the topic of organics is raised, the first objection is the cost. But taxpayers don't have to come along behind organic farms and clean out lakes and streams, take extreme means to save wildlife left in their wake, settle (in or out of court) for health affects from crop dusting, etc, etc. Plentiful supply? So far. Reliable? So far. But cheaper? Not in the long run.

And don't even get me started on GMO stuff. How would you like to be one of the unlucky millions suffering from food allergies and never know if the fruit or vegetable you are about to eat has something from an entirely different species spliced into it that could cause a reaction? San Monsanto tomatoes, anyone?


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Thanks to those of you pointing out the hidden costs of Wal*Mart and providing documentation in my absence.  I would add the same holds true with remediating the effects of factory farming.  Whenever the topic of organics is raised, the first objection is the cost.  But taxpayers don't have to come along behind organic farms and clean out lakes and streams, take extreme means to save wildlife left in their wake, settle (in or out of court) for health affects from crop dusting, etc, etc.  Plentiful supply?  So far.  Reliable?  So far.  But cheaper?  Not in the long run.

True, but those costs can be hidden as opposed to the immediate "savings" at the cash register. For those living paycheck to paycheck, saving an extra few cents per item means bus fare to get to work. Yes we should all think about the future but there are some who don't have the luxury, especially in small towns where the shopping choices are few.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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True, but those costs can be hidden as opposed to the immediate "savings" at the cash register.  For those living paycheck to paycheck, saving an extra few cents per item means bus fare to get to work.  Yes we should all think about the future but there are some who don't have the luxury, especially in small towns where the shopping choices are few.

That's why the changes need to come from the top down, from legislators. Still, this is a problem deeply ingrained in american culture. Small towns are themselves a product of old railway and highway subsidies. Not to mention gas subsidies, which bring yet another set of hidden human costs.

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Here's an interesting (and loooong) article on the anti Wal-mart battles being fought in the greater DC area.  The major drivers are the food workers unions.  The bill passed in Maryland mandating health care spending by private employers with over 10,000 employees was lobbied heavily by the unions (including hefty donations).

Here's some wage and benefit data from the article:

Unionized grocery chains do the same, but they simply cannot match Wal-Mart's buying power or its lower labor costs. Wal-Mart's hourly wage in the Washington region is $10.08, while Giant's and Safeway's is $13.19, the companies said. With overtime, the figure rises to $16 an hour for the union chains. Giant's and Safeway's health care plans cost the chains $12,249 for every full-time employee, nearly twice what Wal-Mart pays for a typical family plan, the companies said. Wal-Mart's cost for health benefits depend on the plan and deductible chosen by employees. While Wal-Mart workers have a 401(k) plan, with the chain matching up to 4 percent of employee contributions, depending on annual profit, Giant and Safeway are required by the union contract to pay into a more expensive pension plan.

So, the unionized stores do pay more, don't know how much of that goes back in union dues, but still, $10/hour is twice the minimum wage.  The health care plans for the union cost twice as much.  I wonder if they're twice as good?  I bet they're about the same and the extra expenditures mandated by the union contract provide the extra money needed to slush around in your lobbying efforts.  Same for the retirement benefits, gotta keep the money flowing to the union bosses and the politicians!

I don't see how that last paragraph goes with the rest of your post, which seems to detail a successful fight by unions to increase pay and benefits for workers. For some reason, you "wonder" and "bet" that the unions are actually harmful to the workers, although the facts you cite would seem to show them as having benefitted the workers. And if you want to complain about pay for union leaders and lobbying and campaign contributions by unions (which seem to have benefitted the workers in this case), what do you think the money Walmart pays to its executives and to contribute to and lobby politicians is costing workers?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Here in Columbus, Ohio, we're getting Walmart saturation. I believe we have at least 10 of them. That's fine, if they're spaced; but having one every 2-3 miles is overkill.

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I don't shop at Walmart because I find it dingy, messy, and crowded and the staff isn't very helpful. It's just not a pleasant experience. I do look on some of their business practices with suspicion, but I also try to see things from both sides.

However, one of my favorite stores to shop in is another non-union shop - Trader Joe's. The staff is pleasant & helpful, going out of their way to get things or help; I've overheard offers to help load stuff in the car, for instance. They automatically bag your groceries, something that is no longer a guarantee anywhere, etc. The stores are small, but clean & bright. And yet, the prices are decent to very good, depending on the item. They're doing something right, although I wish I could get loose produce there and a bit more varity in meat cuts.

Even Target, which is often compared to Walmart as an "evil corporation" is a more pleasant shopping experieince. Again, clean stores, helpful staff.

I don't know how to solve the "Walmart problem" except by putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, and shopping elsewhere.


Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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