mm275: Republic of WalMartia?

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s a big target (as it were): Wal-Mart. The 800-lb. retailing gorilla that everyone (in a blue state) loves to hate.

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has done its share of W-M disparagement: a tongue not-so-deep in cheek look at Wal-Mart’s function as armory to the red state militia; a look at rising prices in China, Wal-Mart’s sweatshop of choice; Wal-Mart’s key role in the rise of the compact fluorescent bulb; and most recently, a casual backhand at Wal-Mart in the context of another (supposed) 800-lb. gorilla in its business, Starbucks.

But, the NYTimes has detected a change, in a corporation previously known for its penny-pinching ways where employees and their pay and (almost non-existent) health benefits are concerned,

For decades, Wal-Mart was associated with low wages, skimpy health insurance coverage and poor treatment of workers — and not without reason. An internal memorandum in 2005 showed that though Wal-Mart earned $10 billion a year, 46 percent of its workers’ children were uninsured or on Medicaid.

…and whose growth model has been, in the ineffable prose of yr (justifiably) humble svt: “…in the manner of Wal-Mart (which has for all of its over 40 years eviscerated locally owned Main Street stores wherever they open)…”

nytimes

Wal-Mart: The New Washington

By MICHAEL BARBARO | Published: February 3, 2008
OBAMA, Clinton, McCain, Romney … Wal-Mart?

The nation’s largest private employer sure sounds like it’s running for president these days.

It’s making sweeping commitments to reduce America’s energy use and improve its health care system. It’s obsessively polling voters, boasting of a higher favorability rating than Congress. It’s even touting an “economic stimulus plan for American shoppers” in the form of steep price cuts made last week. (Four 12-packs of Pepsi? $10.)

That last one may be slightly tongue in cheek — even discount retailers have a sense of humor — but the bigger message is not: after years of running afoul of the United States government on labor and environmental issues, Wal-Mart now aspires to be like the government, bursting through political logjams and offering big-picture solutions to intractable problems.

As the federal government debates how to wean the country from its addiction to oil, Wal-Mart just announced it would require suppliers to make major appliances that use 25 percent less energy within the next three years.

A stunning change. Imagine, maybe one can get better productivity from employees who can afford health insurance coverage for their children. Imagine, one can do well by doing good.

A new concept for the pirates of Bentonville, Arkansas, which looks to be finally beginning to initiate the process of starting to think seriously about pulling its weight as a corporate citizen of the nation that bore it.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Wal-Mart: The New Washington – New York Times

Wal-Mart points with pride that they have a higher (by far) approval rating than our current President, and Congress.

A very low bar to scale.

They’ve a long way to go before this blue-state citizen will set foot in one of their relentlessly downscale stores again (even though there’s a Sam’s Club less than a mile away, the MUDGE household cheerfully drives a mile in the other direction to Target, or even 10 miles further to Costco; there is no comparison).

But, the effort has been noted. And with their size, and their reach, even small progress means a better deal for its employees, and its home country.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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