Wednesday, April 27, 2005

On the Bright Side... At Least I Don't Work for Walmart

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/

I watched and recoiled in horror to see the absolutely brainwashed culture that thrives in the Walmart environment. Their stockholder/staff meetings resemble a cross between a Baptist Revival and a Political Rally. Their morning staff meetings in stores begin with the whole staff engaging in a snappy little clap as several staff members/clerks proudly describe the "rollback" prices of the day. It made me nauseated just to watch it.

Here's why. When you work in such an environment where the ultimate goal is the success of "your" company you cannot see the larger picture outside of the micro/macrocosm of the company that you work for. Everything is good as long as it is for the good of the company, because the company feeds you, rewards you. Makes things much better for you... that's great, but what about the world you live in? The towns who once depended on the manufacturing and production jobs from the companies that went out of business because they could not compete with the lower prices from foreign countries. You don't care because you still have a job, and besides those jobless folks can just get a job at Walmart. Doesn't matter that they have to take a cut in pay that may amount to half. If they work there long enough they can get a discount for the rest of their lives.

Are they really saving a lot of money for Americans in reducing the costs of their purchases or is the growth of their culture benefiting only the employees of Walmart (most especially it's corporate heads and leaders) rather than the rest of America. There is something wrong with a culture that does not make things... that's what my intuition tells me at least. I believe those communities including Medford, Oregon who had the courage and determination to stand up against this Giant are the ones who should be applauded.

Why do I keep on thinking of that horrible Star Trek episode (from the original series)... "You are not part of the BODY!" (Therefore you will become annihilated or rejected).

Addendum:

I've been thinking per recipher's comments: Maybe if we look at the whole idea of capitalism as the Mega-corporate proponents view it as analogous to species existing in an eco system. Maybe this form of capitalism is normal... one species becomes dominant... then wipes out other competing species and also the supporting species because growth in size/population cause them to over-consume... then there is obliteration/destruction/nothing because the mega-species can no longer sustain itself. My whole point is that competition is essential to insuring a healthy environment. Ever hear of the theories of what happened to Easter Island? I can probably come up with better examples if I had the time.

Then again, thinking of those workers who loose their jobs because of outsourcing and because their companies cannot compete with unfair pricing offered by foreign labor sources. We can always hope that they can find other jobs or that the workforce will 'evolve' yet again and these people will just evolve with it... but how? Will we become a nation of gypsy traders on eBay? What will we do? How can you have a healthy economy where businesses can remain competitive and thrive when the people don't have any money to spend because they either don't make as much or don't have a job period?

I know I'm a little off kilter, one need not point this out. I know I could probably use a basic lesson in economics (which do wish to research more about when I have the time). But I think all of these obsessions about the nature of our economy and the system as it exists are why I've developed a fear and revulsion of chains and megastores... this would explain the nightmares I had while I was down in Arizona for business. I dreamt that Daleks (shows what sort of a geek I am I'm afraid) were hunting me in a mall. While I do know we sometimes don't have much of a choice and we do frequent these stores at times, I still think that we can keep them at bay by buying wisely. Case in point. I have an aunt who buys for the sake of buying things...she continues to buy goods and appliances (from washrags to coffee-makers) at the local meglo mart at a discount, but as she buys the very cheaply made versions of things, they often break or degrade sooner than if she had bought a quality made items and paid a premium price. So she needs to buy these things more frequently.

Another example of sort of wasteful consumerism is the purchasing of brightly colored seasonal dinnerware and table accessories (usually made cheaply of plastic). Many major discount stores offer these items. I have bought them before, but I usually use the same set year after year or until they have become too discolored or scratched and even then I stll use them, but not for entertaining. I was initially charmed by a series I found that had a 60's tiki theme. One must admit, that while a dinner set fashioned to look like slices of watermelon might look cute and kind of smart, but is it really necessary to buy a plate set that looks like cantaloupe the next year to replace it?

By the way, I've opted for a nice set of sturdy ceramic ware. Mom's old standby of having a good set of china and a everyday set is always a good idea. If I want to add some decoration to my table... I'm considering some homemade options. Funny, I sound sort of sixties house-wifish... but oh well Brini Maxwell is my heroine :) I guess I sort of went on a stream of consciousness tangent here... talking about unrestricted capitalism and ending with sixties homemaking. But honestly, I believe that basic consumerism is how we live and breathe, and it's also how we exercise our power and choices.

Place settings and stuff:

I would not personally choose these colors, but the concept is nice:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=4253.0

Table setting basics from DIY:
http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/lc_table_basics/article/0,2041,DIY_14018_2273511,00.html

Cute little picnic ideas:
http://www.readymademag.com/feature_17_picnic.php

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