Thursday, October 9, 2014

WalMartians and the Lunacy of Less

This week it was announced that WalMart would cut back on the number of employees that would be covered for health insurance.  The number people affected is in the neighborhood of 30,000 people.  That is thirty thousand lives worsened by the owners of Walmart.

The largest shareholders are the Waltons… arguably some of the richest people in the country, if not the world.  The money “saved” by this change will mostly go to the bottom line, which is then the income line for the Walton's. 

Without the ability to organize, that is, to strike against their employer the employees are essentially cheated by the rules out of what they had up until now.  It is noted that part of the decision to discontinue coverage was that WalMart is now going into the healthcare business.  They cater to the least financially sophisticated populous in the U.S. and have shown an ability to exploit that population repeatedly.  Concentrating on having the cheapest price they sell substandard products manufactured in substandard conditions abroad.  They cheat the drivers that transport those goods and they hammer the producers on price.  The WalMart model is to exploit the tax payer as well.  It is said that each store costs the tax payer in excess of $900,000 per STORE in the state and local benefits needed by employees to live at a near subsistence level due to the starvation wages paid by the company.  The company has further violated laws in Mexico (for instance) by bribing local officials in order to by-pass local laws and build stores where none were wanted.  There is a long and growing list of reasons that WalMart is not a good citizen wherever it exists.

We might want to ponder system that allows this.  We might want to consider the possible ways to change the course of this slide toward feudalism.  It is not just WalMart but it is useful to see and understand their model.

On one level there is problem involving the employees themselves.  They need the job, even as low paying and inferior as it is, they cannot do without it and therefore cannot strike or create a UNION to better their situation.  WalMart's history of union busting and illegal actions to pressure employees against forming any union are extensive but let’s just focus on part that is within what the employees can do for themselves first.  You cannot join a picket line if you are going to be fired.  It is necessary to have the job, remember.  You would others, by proxy, to stand in create the protest for you.  You need some way to keep them on the line.  Since there is no union you do not have the ability to have dues paid into create a fund.  But, in this day and age, it is possible to create on-line funding for a group that could fulfill the function of striking the employer.  I won’t go into the history of unions or the laws that now are currently used against the unions.  I would mention that protection of the middle class is the business of unions.  Our legislators have been co-opted, bought out, by businesses or organizations representing businesses.  The pendulum has swung so far to the Right that unions represent fewer than 7% of non-public employees today.  This, in wake of 30 years of Reaganomics (undisputedly bad for the middle class), has devastated the legal standing of most of the country’s working people.  The New Feudal Order (NFO) has positioned the employee without recourse, without a voice in the workplace.  The worker tends to feel that he/she should be doing the “right” thing and working ever harder.  Increases in productivity have been absorbed by the company and redistributed to the shareholders rather than the employees who made it possible.  Wages have decreased in real terms over the last thirty years.  The wealth of the nation has not been spread across the spectrum of people who have made it possible.

So, a first step in recharging the middle class could be creating a way for the worker to strike without leaving the workplace.  Creating a mechanism, a fund, targeting the worst abusers of workers for actions to get the public to understand the menace of, “Low prices always,” being the start of a downhill slide that needs correction.   

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