Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Wal-Mart Debate

I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart. I say “avoid” because this is not a militant position – if there is a time crunch and it’s on the way, I’ll go there as a matter of practicality, but there are typically months to years between these times.

I have a couple reasons for this. First, Wal-Mart’s profits are used to widely influence political positions that I cannot support, both at the corporate level and by the Walton family.

Second, their website states that the average wage for regular, full-time employees is $11.73 in Wisconsin, but that is just the problem – this number doesn’t include part-timers or seasonal workers.

Further, I’d wager that $11.73 is also skewed by an inflated salary given to one or two managers whose job it is to keep hours down for part-time workers.

Another reason Wal-Mart is unappealing to me is that if they decide they want to be in a community, you’d better believe that Wal-Mart will be opening a store there whether the community wants it or not.

A blog post by the Center for Working Class Studies further illustrates this problem. I was particularly struck by the comment that, “Walmart may save us money at the check-out, but we pay for it in taxes and lost jobs.”

What if, instead of giving them tax benefits to build their stores, everyone in the community just took out their checkbook and wrote a check directly to Wal-Mart? Maybe then a few cents saved at the register will not seem like such a great deal.

The views in this blog post are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of the entire Working Class Student Union.