I first ask my readers to speak with the pre-1992 Wal-Mart associates about the company. They have great stories to tell. Sam Walton had a great idea. He supported American manufacturing when possible, believed in customer service and allowed his employees to reap a portion of the dividends of the company's profit. During my brief time at Wal-Mart I learned a few things: 1. You cannot fire at will. (Well known lazy fuck-offs were given the opportunity for occupational rehabilitation) 2. They take discrimination against homosexuals seriously (The deep-South store where I worked only lacked one disco ball from a full fledged Pride celebration) 3. Profit-sharing checks based on store's performance were still being given (Although the calculation of the checks had been modified since 1992) 4. The pay was .25 higher than the other low skilled entry level positions in the area.
I know Wal-Mart does not pay enough at the hourly level to support a family without government assistance. The low pay in conjunction with inability to fire lazy fuck-offs and health issue was one reason I turned down an hourly management position. However, Wal-Mart does allow me to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at a low price. I am also able to buy at a low cost the basics non-food items I need for my family. The local stores were I live charge more for the things I need for my family. The ones that charge lower have items that are suspect. In 30 years the only reason it is cheaper to not drive 80 miles to the large town to shop is because of Wal-Mart and internet access. In rural Mississippi shopping locally has not been the promise land.
The local stores were charging more before Wal-Mart came to town. The owners paid low wages and to the profits shopping at the high-end department stores. The downtown area failed to grow not because Wal-Mart came to town but because the skilled labor jobs left the town. In fact Wal-Mart had to agree to lower employee wages before being allowed to open a store (pre 1992 days). The current local retail businesses operate with a "share cropping" mentality in regards to their employees. There are no profit sharing opportunities, no health benefits, or even paid days off.
I support small businesses. I enjoy shopping locally, especially for my food. I understand it is senseless for a CEO (i.e. Wal-Mart) to earn 1K times the average hourly wage in his/her corporation. However, blaming Wal-Mart does not solve the issue. Fighting Wal-Mart takes away energy better used to form corporations or co-ops that offer a livable wage, health insurance, educational reimbursement, paid time off, etc.... Fighting Wal-Mart takes away energy better used in getting Congress to enact livable wage legislation that has a mandatory COLA. Fighting Wal-Mart takes away energy better used in getting Congress to strengthen the Affordable Care Act into something that resembles the single payer option President Obama actually wanted. We must move beyond protest and into action.