I really dislike social injustice. Sure, everybody says they do, but if this is the case why do people send me "amazed" email when I dare to say something against a large corporation? Do their strong arm tactics threaten even little guys like me? When I wrote the piece on bottled water a few years back I did get a response from an employee at Pepsi simply saying "the author obviously doesn't know anything about bottled water." I believe their first tactic is to just shrug people off as alarmist or uninformed. But small storms do escalate, and now it seems the lid has blown off the fact that bottled water has lower standards than tap and these folks are selling us tap water for three bucks a gallon.
Anyway, after my Walmart rant the other day I received this question from a friend:
In all seriousness, isn't Walmart one of the greenest of the big companies?
You're thinking of Costco.
Walmart is owned by a family who doesn't give a shit about the environment, our world, or the people in it. They give huge amounts of money to Bush and spend less money on altruism that any large corporation in the world. When they've been questioned about this their answer is basically to fuck off. They are continually being sued by their employees, have government charges against them for polluting, abusing workers, and pretty much any other nefarious thing a corporation can get away with. Any type of small business would have been shut down but they just buy their way out of everything.
In one instance they made an nearly an entire town sick by polluting its waterway. They hire illegal immigrants and lock them in the store overnight--the funny thing is that this one made the headlines mainly due to illegal immigrants, not the fact that they were locked inside a building with no supervision. They employ an "anti-union" program that will attack the lives of individuals that attempt to work on employee unity—on a personal level! They think nothing about ruining the life of someone who just wants to improve their workplace.
The main thing wrong with Walmart is that their business plan centers around ruining town centers in favor of Walmart centers, which are placed outside of the town center. For them to be successful, sprawl must be firmly in place, public transportation cannot work, and the traditional town center must die.
This doesn't always work. Occasionally, towns don't patronize a Walmart but under their plan they need assurances when they move into a community from the elected officials with regards to building codes, street development, public trans etc--none of which are good for the town in its pre-Walmart state. Part of their deal--besides paying off the officials themselves--is the revenue the town will get from part of the profits, after the initial set up period. When a Walmart isn't making enough cash they move prior to this time and set up another giant box in an adjacent town, which tends to (because no matter what people still shop there) put the original town under enormous financial strain.
They are one of the leaders of globalization and farm out work to the most competitive country. You can argue that this is the future, and perhaps rightly so, but under the current structure--aided by our friends of leisure at the WTO--it's more or less capitalisms version of legal slavery.
The Daily Show ran a piece about the illegal immigrant issue and were interviewing customers. One woman said something along the lines of "I just don't believe Walmart would hire illegal workers.(sic)" Jon Stewart's reply, "Lady, you just bought a sweater for 39 cents."
On the plus side, they did devise a POP programs that instantly alters the inventory and informs the factories in China (Laos, Cambodia, or wherever) when an item is purchased. This helps those adolescent kids in the developing world be more efficient during their 12-hour factory shifts assembling all of that organic plastic