Sunday, January 22, 2006
Something Wal-Mart this way comes
I have probably been in a Wal Mart less than five times in my life. My guess is that I have spent less than $ 15 on Wal-Mart merchandise (think I once picked up a medicine ball) - ever.
But its not that I think that Wal-Mart is an evil empire. Candor compels me to confess that I'm a bit of a snob. The prices are low, but the quality is not what I want and the ambience sucks. This does not, I am afraid, reflect well on me. I'll work on myself.
But I hardly think that Wal-Mart is evil and I'm intrigued by the way in which it has become the Richard Nixon of the '00s - widely and easily hated. The inestimable Boots and Sabers suggests that it is because Wal Mart is not unionized. Others, perhaps marking the same facts from another persoective, argue that it is because Wal Mart wages aren't all that high.
I prefer a different slant. Wal Mart associates are not highly paid, but that's long been the case in the retail sector. You don't get a lot of money for walking the aisles or manning the register at a big box store. That's true today, but it was also true when I worked at the Target on 27th & Layton in 1974. Its a low skill - high flexibility - entry level job. While people pick and choose statistics to either demonize or canonize,Wal Mart, it is seemos that it does not pay appreciably more or less than comparable employers for comparable positions.
What it does do is offer merchandise of acceptable quality at remarkably low prices. In that, it has probably done more to make life "affordable" than Gov. Doyle will so much as shake a pair of die at. And that, I think, is what drives liberals crazy. By its own efficiency and by, quite frankly, beating up on its suppliers. , Wal Mart has saved the working poor more money than a boatload of liberal nostrums could ever.
Although its profit margins are not all that exceptional, Wal Mart, in successfully serving the lower income consumer, has made its shareholders a boatload of money. Could it be that they have done good and done well?