Wal-Mart reality check

I’m shocked that The Houstonian has encouraged people to shop at Wal-Mart. I realize the purpose of the “Price Check” article, written by Jennifer Rudolph, was to highlight the cheapest places in town to shop, but how reckless can you get? Here are a few of the reasons that you should not shop at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is a corporate bully that undermines capitalism and the American economy by squeezing its distributors to lower prices which causes layoffs and bankruptcies, drives locally-owned businesses away, and doesn’t pay a living wage or its fair share of taxes.

Wal-Mart engages in some of the worst labor practices in the country. Wal-Mart is opposed to the unionization of their associates and they avoid stocking union-made products as often as possible. The average salary for a Wal-Mart employee is less than $10 an hour, with most of their workforce existing below the poverty line. In addition to paying substandard wages, Wal-Mart does not offer its employees affordable health insurance and often forces them to work unpaid overtime.

Yes, it’s cheap to shop at Wal-Mart, but how can they afford to sell their products so cheap? Wal-Mart accomplishes this by forcing their suppliers to engage in the same labor practices as their own. This is the reason the vast majority of items carried by Wal-Mart are made in Chinese gulags under inhumane conditions. If Wal-Mart were an independent nation, they would be China’s eighth-largest trading partner.

In the days after Hurricane Katrina, 40 Wal-Mart stores scattered around the Gulf Coast stopped selling firearms. The people that survived the hurricane were anxious to defend their property in the wake of the ineptitude of the N.O.P.D. and other officials. Fortunately, other area stores provided firearms to the desperate Louisiana and Mississippi residents, but the fact remains that Wal-Mart was, and still is, arrogant enough to say what people can or can not buy, regardless of any existing laws.

Perhaps the greatest disservice perpetrated by Wal-Mart is the lack of health insurance provided to its employees. Over half of the Wal-Mart workforce has no health insurance at all. So who pays when they get sick? We do. Wal-Mart employees top the Medicaid rolls in 16 states and more are enrolling everyday. So much for the money you save by shopping at Wal-Mart.

These are but a few of the troubling issues associate with or caused by, Wal-Mart. I encourage everyone to visit http://www.walmartwatch.com to learn more. As for Jennifer Rudolph and the editors of The Houstonian, you should be ashamed for acting as a proponent for the greatest threat to America’s economy. I sincerely hope that you are more responsible in the future.–Mass Comm. Student

Brian Cook

Mass Communications Senior

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